Buying food in bulk can be a great way to save money on quality items. One of the top recommended items to buy in bulk is meat - especially chicken or beef. However, unless you have a very large family, you will have to freeze some of the meat so it doesn’t spoil before you use it. Thawing the meat safely and in a timely manner can be tricky, if you don’t have a good strategy. There are many that work okay, but compromise meat safety, or quality. Can thawing meat in cold water really work in time for dinner?
- Better for you – thawing in cold water prevents growth of sketchy bacteria, while preserving good meat quality
- Better for the earth – no need to use the microwave or the energy to power it
- Saves money – when you are successful with buying, freezing, and thawing bulk meat, you can save lots of money
- Easy – put meat in water and forget about it – couldn’t be much easier than that
- Saves time vs. the let it sit in the fridge for a couple days method
- Needs a little planning ahead time as it takes a couple hours to work
As a young girl, I remember watching my mom struggling through making meatloaf with her bare hands. The ground beef she had pulled from the freezer and thawed in the fridge, or microwave, always seemed to be soft on the outside and icy in the middle. Meatloaf making was a miserable affair, leaving her with red and frozen fingertips. Then one day a friend told our family about thawing frozen meat in water. And everything changed.
(Okay, obviously not everything, but I remember my mom raving to all her friends about this great new kitchen trick).
It’s pretty simple: Wrap up your frozen meat in plastic wrap, or a plastic zipper bag. Place it in cold water: it will thaw within a few hours, depending on the thickness of the cut. There are two ways to keep the water cold: 1) replace the water as it warms to room temperature, or 2) keep it in the fridge so it stays cold.
My favorite method of thawing goes like this:
- Check my weekly meal plan in the morning before work
- Pull the needed meat from the freezer
- Place in plastic zipper bag with all the air squeezed out
- Place bagged meat in a big bowl
- Fill bowl with water
- Place a plate, or lid on top to ensure the meat stays submerged
- Put the bowl in the fridge
- Come home to meat all thawed and ready to cook
I leave mine in the water all day, because I’m gone all day, but I’m pretty sure this will work just as well if you put the meat in at lunch time.
If I am really desperate (like, it’s time to make dinner, but I forgot to defrost the meat) I use the same method, except fill the bowl with HOT water from the tap. Then I replace the water as soon as it starts to cool – typically every ten minutes. It usually takes only 30 min to defrost meat this way. However, I caution you that if you do this, you must cook the meat immediately, and very well to ensure any bacteria that may have been woken in the meat is completely killed.
Overall, the defrosting meat in cold water trick works quickly, and works well!
How do you usually defrost your frozen meat? Do you have any tips or tricks to share?