As soon as raw or cooked meat, poultry or egg products begin to thaw and become warmer than 40°F, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to multiply.
Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter or in hot water and must not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. There are safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave.
Remember: Even though the center of the package may still be frozen as it thaws on the counter, the outer layer of the food could be in the “Danger Zone,” between 40 and 140 °F — temperatures where bacteria multiply rapidly.
Put the meat you plan to use for the week in the refrigerator to thaw immediately. This avoids those last minute “what do I cook for supper” moments.
Ideal – Refrigerator thawing
- Planning ahead is key. This method requires 24 hours per 5 lbs. of meat, so place meat in the refrigerator at least the night before you plan to cook it.
- Once fully thawed, ground meat, chicken, & salmon should be cooked within 2 days.
- Red meat, including beef, pork, and lamb, should be cooked within 3–5 days of being fully thawed
- Meat thawed in the refrigerator is safe to refreeze without cooking, but quality may be affected.
Last minute – Cold water thawing
- This method is great in a pinch, but requires more attention.
- To avoid water or bacteria, place your Moink package into a leak-proof bag.
- Place the bag into cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes so it continues to thaw.
- Small packages of meat, around a pound, may thaw in less than an hour.
- Larger packages, such as chuck roasts or pork shoulder roasts, may take 2–3 hours.
- After thawing, the meat must be cooked IMMEDIATELY.
- Meat thawed in cold water must be cooked before refreezing.
Super last minute – Microwave thawing
- Microwave thawing is the least preferred method, as it may dramatically affect quality, especially steaks. So only use this for ground meats, sausage, & bacon.
- Thaw meat in the microwave on a defrost setting, or the lowest power setting, turning frequently.
Cooking from frozen – Crock pot
- This works particularly well for roasts, or any other cuts you place in a crock pot, instant pot, or similar device.
- Cooking times may increase up to 50%.