What’s the best way to defrost food?

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Using the correct methods for defrosting food can dramatically increase the quality of your finished dishes while ensuring food safety.  So before you throw that kurobuta pork in the microwave and waste all of its amazing flavor and texture, read below to learn how professional chefs defrost food:

When Thawing Food, Do:

Slow Method: Thaw in the Fridge:  Simply place the food you’re going to thaw on the bottom of your fridge if it will be cooked…on the top shelf of your fridge if it will be eaten raw. 

Put thawing raw meats, fish, or poultry in a bowl to collect any liquid that may be released as they defrost.  This will help protect against cross contamination.  Thawing food should always be covered or wrapped in some way.  Wait until the food has completely thawed, then cook it. 

Fast Method: Thaw in the Sink:  Place the still wrapped or bagged frozen food in your sink, under a constant slow stream of cold water.  As the water runs over the food and down the sink, it will carry cold away, gradually thawing it.  Depending on the size of what you’re thawing, you may have to periodically move the food so different parts of it are under the water.  We recommend using the fridge method instead, as the sink technique can waste a lot of water…but if you need to thaw food quickly, use this method.

Do Not:

Put your food in the microwave…unless it’s a processed food designed to be defrosted in the microwave.  Microwaves have a nasty habit of partially cooking the outside of your food while leaving the inside still partially frozen.  This means that when you do cook the meat, poulty, or seafood you just defrosted it will cook unevenly.  Microwaves can also dry food out and/or make it rubbery.

Leave your food on the counter. Chefs often thaw cases of ingredients at a time, so items on the outside of the case can thaw (and even come to room temperature) before items on the inside.  To protect against any chance of this food becoming unsafe, they don’t thaw on the counter.

Cook your food frozen…unless the food was designed to be cooked frozen, like Nuovo Artisan Ravioli.  Otherwise, you’ll cook the outside while the inside is still thawing, which will completely ruin your food’s taste and texture, and possibly leave the inside raw, putting you at risk for things like salmonella.

Thaw all your food, and refreeze what you don’t need.  This can really damage the flavor and texture of your food, and possibly make certain seafood unsafe.  It is far better to only freeze (or thaw if purchased frozen) food once, so if freezing your own food at home, try to only freeze it in usable amounts. 

Depending on what you’re freezing, that doesn’t mean you have to individually wrap everything.  If you want to use large containers  for freezer storage, first freeze individual pieces of food separately (perhaps laid out on a baking sheet) before combining them in a bag for storage.  That way they’ll be much easier to pull out of storage piece by piece later.

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