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Dec 14, 2007 10:49 AM

Defrosting meat on the counter?


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  1. Oops--hit enter too quickly to explain myself. My husband took hamburgers out of the freezer this am before work and put them on the counter instead of in the refrigerator to defrost. Neither one of us will be home until later today. We should throw these out, right?

    8 Replies
    1. re: jrmd

      I'm a counter defroster myself. I know...bad, but I'm still alive.

      When you get home feel them...if they are warm, I wouldn't use them (or if you do, cook them really, really well) But if they are still cool to the touch, I'd use them.

      1. re: jrmd

        I too use the counter top, now granite to defrost. That sounds like an awfully long time for ground meat to be sitting on the counter. I would have reservations about using it but given the fact that E. Coli contaminated meat is sold to restaurants that will cook it completely, I guess you could cook it until it's well done as long as it doesn't have an off smell.

        1. re: jrmd

          It's fine. Eat it. I know this goes against the grain, but as a 70's child who's Mom ALWAYS defrosted the meat on the counter while she was at her 8+ hour job as a nurse and who NEVER got food poisoning (sorry-run on sentence--I know). You'll be fine. Don't waste meat while 'people in ______ are starving" :)

          1. re: diablo

            Diablo is right - my mother always defrosted meat on the counter and so I do and haven't gotten sick from it. Only I have to put mine in the microwave so the cats don't sample it first! And I have left ground meat in the refrigerator for 2-3 days after it was defrosted before I used it and have not had problems.

            1. re: diablo

              My mom did the same and I am perfectly fine...BUT the strains of bacteria present today are much stronger than the ones around when we were kids.

              I say, when in doubt, throw it out.

            2. re: jrmd

              Despite what the blithe spirits say, you're right. Toss it.

              1. re: mpalmer6c

                I also defrost meat on the counter, but I wouldn't do it with hamburger/ground meat.

              2. re: jrmd

                First, i'd toss the burgers. Meat starts to rot the minute it's ground. Therefore, you should consider grinding your own hamburger from chuck steak. The safest, tastiest way to go.

              3. I lived with an African family who had recently immigrated to Canada. The mother would put a whole raw chicken, not frozen in the sink-overnight. The first time I saw the chicken in the sink I laughed so hard, she had crossed the chickens legs and it looked like it was lounging or relaxing in the sink or something. Anyways, that family never gets sick. I guess thats how some people do it in Africa with no refrigerators!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Cookiepants

                  I know this is a total No! No! But I admit, I do this as well. I will also soak chicken in cold water exemption of ground beef. When it is defrosted, I do put it in the refrigerator, If I am not cooking it right away, after it defrosts.

                2. Great topic! I too defrost on the counter and also throw chicken breasts in cold water. I have read that you should defrost in the fridge, but it can take DAYS!

                  1. I also always defrost on the counter (and out of the way of my german shepherd who can reach everything). Haven't killed anyone yet - but surely it depends on the weather and temperature of your house.

                    1. Actually I defrost on metal, preferably a cast-iron skillet, because it improves heat transfer. But what you cited is a long time to leave meat out.