The dos and don’ts of storing and defrosting frozen meats
When you maintain a freezer full of meat at home, you will never have to worry about your pooch’s next meal. You can plan in advance and ensure that your furry companion gets a nutritious meal every single time.
But there can be some confusion regarding frozen meats and defrosting them. We’ve spoken to meat experts from the industry and also put together our experience gathered over the years to answer any questions you might have about frozen meats and defrosting them correctly.
At the bottom of this post, we’ve also included some advice on what you can do to organize your meat and maximize freezer space after your frozen meat arrives on your doorstep.
Defrosting in the refrigerator
The safest and easiest way to thaw frozen meat is in the refrigerator. An average size cut of meat will need a full day to defrost in a fridge. If you have a larger cut or a whole bird (like a turkey), it will take about 24 hours for every two kilos to thaw. Let’s now look at individual meats and how long you will need to defrost them in the refrigerator.
If the chicken cut you have is vacuum-sealed, it will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. If the meat is not sealed but frozen, you can safely allow it to remain in the refrigerator for 1-2 days, but no longer.
Consider the source of the beef that you’re getting. If you get it in its original packaging, sealed tightly, then you can safely keep it in the refrigerator for two weeks without worrying. However, if you remove the meat from its packaging or if it gets torn, then the refrigerator shelf life of the meat is 3-5 days after it’s been defrosted. Ground beef has to be treated a little bit differently. Once you defrost it, it can stay fresh for 1-2 days.
As with the earlier two meats, the process for defrosting pork too depends on its cut. Most large pork
cuts are usually sold in strong vacuum-sealed packages. Like beef, these can stay fresh and good for up to two weeks when defrosted in the refrigerator. The smaller cuts of pork have a shorter shelf life, and if sealed, they will stay fresh for 3-5 days when defrosted in the refrigerator. Consume the meat in 1-2 days if it has been removed from its original packaging and defrosted in the refrigerator. Bacon will last for 7 days in the refrigerator.
Among all meats, seafood
has the shortest shelf life when defrosted in the refrigerator. It will remain fresh for 1-2 days only and must be consumed at the earliest. Also, unlike other meats, you must ensure that you remove fish from its original vacuum-sealed packaging before defrosting since this is one meat that encourages the growth of bacteria even in the absence of oxygen.
Can you defrost any meat outside of the refrigerator?
Yes, it’s possible to defrost meats outside of the refrigerator, either on its own or in cold water.
Thawing meat in cold water
If you need to defrost frozen meat quickly, putting it in cold water is one way of doing so. This can either be running water or water that you change every 30 minutes. Do ensure the meat is sealed properly or place it in a sealed plastic bag before defrosting it in cold water. Also, make sure you pay attention to the meat and don’t leave it in the sink indefinitely. A half kilogram of meat will usually defrost with an hour by using this technique.
What about defrosting meat on the kitchen counter? Or in hot water?
We wouldn’t recommend defrosting meat by leaving it out on the kitchen counter at room temperature. Meat left out for two hours or more takes it into the ‘danger zone’. The temperature for bacteria to begin forming. Thawing in hot water has the same effect on frozen meats.
If you’re in a pinch and are unable to defrost in time, you can use the cold running water method as mentioned above, or try and feed your dog frozen, if he is willing to eat that.