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Thawing Pork

There are several methods that can be used for thawing frozen pork. Pork should never be thawed out on the kitchen counter because the outside of the meat will reach a temperature above 4°C while the inside is still frozen. The area that reaches a temperature above 4°C would be susceptible to bacterial growth. Use one of the thawing methods described below.

Refrigerator (Recommended)

Thawing pork in the refrigerator is the slowest but safest method you can use and will result in the least amount of moisture loss in comparison to the other methods. The temperature of the refrigerator should be maintained at 0°C to 4°C to discourage growth of harmful organisms as the meat thaws. Leave the meat wrapped and placed on a platter or a tray to catch the drippings as it thaws or unwrap and loosely cover with plastic or foil. After thawing in the refrigerator the pork can be refrigerated safely for 3 days.

Cold Water

Thawing pork in cold water is a faster method than thawing in the refrigerator but the proper precautions must be taken. Fill the sink with enough cold tap water to cover the cut of meat, place the pork in a leak proof bag and put it into the cold water. Be sure that the meat is sealed tightly so that the meat is not exposed to the water. Meat exposed to the water will result in flavor and color loss, and will have a greater chance of bacteria growth. The water should be changed every 30 minutes. Do not use warm or hot water, even though it will thaw the pork faster because it will also encourage the growth of bacteria.

Do not use the sink for other purposes during the thawing period and be sure the water does not splash onto other preparation surfaces or food. Once the meat is thawed, remove it from the sink and sanitize all utensils and surfaces affected during the thawing period. The pork should be cooked immediately after thawing and should not be stored for any period of time.

Microwave (not recommended)

Defrosting pork in a microwave is a quick thawing method but is not recommended because of the difficulty in determining the proper defrosting time. Thawing times vary according to different microwaves and the size and structure of the cut you are thawing. The meat should have the store wrapping and foam tray removed and then placed on a plate or tray and loosely wrapped with material suitable for the microwave. Generally it is best to start out by microwaving at a defrost or medium-low setting for 2 minutes and then letting stand for 2 minutes before checking progress. Turn the meat and repeat this procedure if needed, being careful that it does not start to cook.

Thawing large items in the microwave does not work well and should be avoided. Pork that has been thawed in the microwave should be cooked immediately because some of the meat may have started to cook during defrosting, resulting in some areas of the meat being at a temperature of over 4°C, which would encourage growth of bacteria.

Meat can be cooked without thawing first. You will need to increase the cooking time when starting with frozen meat. Larger cuts, such as roasts, will require up to 1 ½ times the cooking time of an unfrozen cut. Chops and steaks should be cooked at a greater distance from the heat source and may require up to 2 times the cooking time of unfrozen chops or steaks. Frozen meat should not be cooked in a slow cooker.

· Plan ahead so that you will have adequate time to defrost the frozen meat using one of the methods above. Having the meat slowly thaw in the refrigerator will result in the best quality of meat and is the safest method for preventing foodborne disease.

· When thawing in the refrigerator, realize that food placed in the coldest area of the refrigerator will take longer to thaw than if placed in another area. Also, food placed in a refrigerator set at 0°C will take longer to thaw than a refrigerator set at 4°C.

· While thawing, be sure that drippings do not contaminate other food or preparation surfaces.

· To store meat that has been thawed in the refrigerator, remove from wrapping and pat dry with a paper towel. Place on a tray with sides to catch drippings, cover loosely and place in the refrigerator in an area where there is no danger of the juices dripping onto food that will be eaten without cooking, such as raw vegetables and salad ingredients.

· When thawing meat in the refrigerator, drain the juices that accumulate on the tray holding the meat. The juices will deteriorate and spoil faster than the meat, which will then contaminate the meat.


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