How Long Is Beef Good For After Thawing?

Defrosting meat at room temperature can promote bacterial growth even though it may be a common practice. There are three safe ways to thaw meat, and depending on how it was thawed, the time required to cook the meat varies.

Use the microwave to quickly thaw items if necessary. If you prepare ahead of time, you can defrost meat in the refrigerator. You can also thaw meat in cold water.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service states that refrigerator thawing varies by a few days depending on the type of meat and that microwave and cold-water thawing require immediate cooking.

The thawing method affects how long food remains safe after being thawed. While thawing in the refrigerator can buy you a few days, microwave thawing and thawing in cold water both require immediate cooking.

three to five days

I know I’m not supposed to thaw meat on the counter, but how should I thaw meat safely?

You can safely thaw meat that has been purchased, handled, transported, and stored in a safe manner.

The quality of properly handled meat kept in a freezer at 0°F will deteriorate over time, but it will always be safe to consume. Freezing meat keeps bacteria in a dormant stage. However, once thawed, these bacteria can become active again.

Never let meat sit out of the refrigerator or on the counter to thaw for longer than two hours. In the summer, reduce this time to 1 hour. Never defrost meat in hot water.

There are 3 Safe Ways To Defrost Meat:

  • In the refrigerator
  • In cold water
  • In the microwave

Thawing in the Refrigerator

Thawing in the refrigerator is safe as long as the temperature is between 34 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. When defrosting meat, place a plate or pan underneath to catch any drips before they land on your food, especially if you plan to eat it raw.

ground beefAfter thawing in the refrigerator, ground meat should be used as soon as possible. Once meat has been frozen and thawed, it will deteriorate more rapidly than if it had never been frozen. Whole meat cuts (chops, roasts) will remain useable for another 3-5 days in the refrigerator before cooking.

Without cooking, defrosted meat can be refrozen, though some of its quality might be lost. The USDA advises cooking meat that has been previously frozen and then thawed using other methods.

Thawing in Cold Water

Meat can be safely thawed in cold, not hot, water. Make sure to thaw meat in a container or bag that won’t leak. The bag should be submerged in cold water, with the water being changed every 30 minutes to keep it cold. It’s crucial to keep the meat away from the 70° to 100°F zone where food spoils.

After defrosting, refrigerate or cook promptly. Unlike meat that has been thawed in the refrigerator, meat that has been thawed using cold water requires cooking before refreezing.

Thawing in the Microwave

microwaveMeat can also be safely thawed in the microwave, although it may be more difficult to retain meat quality, especially if the microwave power is set too high.

Before microwave defrosting, remove store wrap and foam trays. Low-power thawing allows the meat’s center to be reached by the microwaves. Most microwaves have a “thaw” setting and may offer suggestions for timing and turning patterns to preserve the quality of the meat. Meat that has been microwaved to thaw should be cooked right away.

Frozen Beef Facts – Meat Minutes

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