HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Thawing question

I have a friend that thaws meat, poultry, seafood in a different manner...Has done it for many years and never became sick. Scares the heck out of me. She will take a frozen bag of chicken breasts, ground beef or whatever. She lays it on the counter then goes to work.. 9 hours later she comes home and cooks it. It is thawed, but still cool.She swears the bag the meat is in acts as a refrigerator and keeps it cool through the whole thawing process. It kinda makes sense.Does anyone else do this? Sounds simple ,but "I just don't know"

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I do it that way in winter when the house is cooler. Since most of the time the meat is frozen or partially frozen, I figure it's cold enough to keep just fine.
    Summer, when the house is 80 degrees, no, then I will thaw it in the fridge, or do it on the counter only if I am going to be home soon to check it.

    1. Yup, I do it.

      Not all the time, just sometimes. Not sure I'd leave it out as long as 9 hours, but definitely an afternoon (4-6 hours) is not uncommon with me.

      1. I do it, too, and am here to tell about it. I don't think I'd admit it to my mother, though.

        1 Reply
        1. Assuming it's not hot in the kitchen and you're going to cook the meat I wouldn't worry about it.

          1. I'd be very hesitant to use that method for ground meat, particularly if you like to serve your burgers a little rare ...

            For frozen chicken breasts, steaks and fish filets I pour very cold water in the sink and (still in the wrapper) put the item in, turning it every five minutes or so ... it usually defrosts in about half an hour or less. For shrimp or scallops, I fill a bowl with really cold water, pour in some sea salt, and then put the shrimp in ... I swear this method even revitalizes shrimp (or scallops) that have been in the freezer awhile.

            1. I defrost things that way frequently overnight. Depending on what protein, the thickness of it, and the room temperature it has worked for me as well for a few hours. 9+ hours is pushing it though.

                1. Where you hold your meat for thawing from a frozen state is immaterial, the temperature of the meat is the key. If you can maintain a temperature below 40 degrees it is, based on USDA data, safe. Your friend's greatest risk, based on what you posted, is cross contamination. If the exterior of the meat package is contaminated with meat juices, often deposited there during packaging, those contaminants can transfer to the counter surface and unless the counter is adequately cleaned when the meat is removed for use, can cross contaminate other foods either by direct contact or through transfer from counter to hands to foods, etc.
                  At times when I've used large commercial kitchen facilities to cook for large groups of people, I've discharged people from my kitchen who failed to handle foods properly. Food borne illnesses are nothing to be cavalier about; they can kill.

                  1. A little iffy - especially if it's seafood or ground meat. Submerging the frozen bag in cold water thaws food much faster than you'd ever think. If your friend's situation is that she doesn't decide what to thaw until morning, you might suggest to her that she do the cold water thaw for a half hour or whatever the interval before she has to leave for work, then put the bag in the fridge before leaving the house. If she forgets and it stays in the water all day, it will still be safer than leaving it on the counter, as the water will remain cold for a long time.