Most of us are guilty of forgetting to take the meat out of the freezer ahead of time, and resort to all kinds of strange methods to fix our errors. While there are some techniques that can safely be used to speed up the defrosting process, others are just plain bad ideas that can have really disastrous consequences. It is advisable to be especially mindful when handling raw meat so that you don’t end up biting off more than you can chew!
Raw meat can serve as an ideal breeding ground for dangerous bacteria if it is not properly handled. Thus, it is better to stay safe with these tips and techniques when defrosting and handling raw meat.
This is essentially true of all the utensils you use: keep them clean! But it is especially true of sponges since they are ideal at retaining leftover liquids and juices, especially if you have used them to scrub raw meats. Not only does a sponge serve as an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, you end up spreading these bacteria to everything else that the sponge comes in contact with, like glasses and dishes.
When marinating your meat, do not leave it open, since this might not only cause your meat to spoil, but it can spread bacteria to nearby food, thereby contaminating them. Instead, put the meat in a tightly sealed plastic bag inside your fridge. You can also put the meat in a sealed plastic container if you wish.
It is generally not a good idea to rinse or “wash” your meat. Not only does it not really serve a purpose, but by rinsing your meat, you cause bacteria to spread everywhere that the rinse liquid touches or splashes. Such splashing is obviously very difficult to control, and you can’t keep track of it. Thus, you are much better off not rinsing the meat in the first place.
When you have an especially large or thick cut of meat, it can take several hours to defrost. Thus, it is not a good idea to leave such large pieces of meat on the countertop. Either the meat will still be frozen inside by the time the outside, has thawed, or the outside will most likely have spoiled by the time the inside has thawed. Instead, leave your meat in the fridge to defrost. This can take long, so plan ahead of time.
Hot water creates the ideal conditions for bacteria to thrive in. This means that any meat placed in such conditions will be the ideal breeding ground for bacterial growth. If you have to defrost your meat with water, rather place the meat in room temperature water, making sure to change the water about every half an hour until your piece of meat has defrosted.
There is a little bit of a debate on whether or not microwaves should be used to defrost meat. If you have a microwave that specifically has a function for defrosting meat, then you are okay to do it that way. If your microwave does not have such a function, then rather choose a different method for defrosting your meat.
Washing your hands regularly is a great habit to learn in general, not just for handling food. But it is especially important to have clean hands when working with any type of food. We don’t realize how much we touch surfaces that can be contaminated with bacteria, and we eventually spread these bacteria everywhere we go. And you don’t want them to spread to your food!
Although this technique is not necessarily dangerous, it is not a good idea because it can spoil the texture of your meat. This is because direct heat can cause cold meat to become very tough. Instead, wait for your piece of meat to defrost properly before you smack it on the grill.
Always place your meat on the bottom shelf when you are defrosting it in the fridge. If you use the top shelf, any juice that might drip from your meat will drip onto whatever is below it, which will surely contaminate it. Also, the problem is that often you might not know that it even happened! So, rather stay on the safe side and put it on the bottom from the start.
There is a simple rule to follow: never let any cooked meat (or other food products that will not be cooked, like salad leaves) be placed onto a plate on which your raw meat was. This will lead to cross-contamination, and can have deadly consequences. Thus, make sure you isolate your raw meat products and all utensils that came into contact with it from products that will not be cooked or that are already cooked.