Why you shouldn't leave frozen meat out on the counter to defrost – 'use the water method'

Utilising freezer space is a great way to save money and reduce food waste, but it’s important to know how to safely defrost items such as meat. Express.co.uk spoke to Kate Hall, a money-saving and freezer expert who has partnered with Birds Eye. 

Kate said: “There are very few foods that can’t be frozen; the most important thing is ensuring that they have been properly stored before freezing and that they are used correctly after freezing.

“For example, dairy products can be frozen, but they will split in the freezer, so people often assume they have gone bad. All that has actually happened is that the fats have separated from the water, so a good shake, blend or heating through will bring them back together.

“Some foods also require a small amount of prep before freezing, such as potatoes. 

“These need to be at least par-boiled before freezing, but once this is done and they are cooled, they can be stored in the freezer, and what’s even better is they can be cooked from frozen. 

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“The safest option is in the bottom of the fridge, covered, in a dish, so that any water from the food does not splash onto other foods, especially ready-to-eat items.

“If you need something to defrost a bit faster, then it can be placed in a freezer bag, in a dish of ice-cold water. I usually use a cup or bowl to weigh the food down so that it stays submerged. 

“If the food takes longer than 30 minutes to defrost, I refresh the water to ensure the food stays cool.”

She continued: “What might surprise some people is that not everything actually needs to be defrosted before cooking. 

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“Vegetables are actually better cooked straight from frozen, such as the Birds Eye Country Mixed Vegetables and cooking from frozen doesn’t tend to take any longer than cooking from fresh.” 

In terms of defrosting meat, Kate revealed: “Meat is best defrosted in the bottom of the fridge, but you can also use the water method mentioned above. 

“It is also safe to microwave small pieces of meat (not large joints), as long as you use the defrost setting and cook them thoroughly, immediately after defrosting.

“Whilst some people may think they have never had food poisoning despite defrosting foods at room temperature for years, it is important to know that food poisoning is not always immediate and that it does not always present as you might expect. 

“It does not always result in sickness and can be as mild as just feeling unwell with aches or chills.

“It is also more likely to cause serious illness in those with a weaker immune system, such as young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with health conditions. 

“So, it may be that you have not personally been ill from defrosting at room temperature, but if you’re cooking for others, then you may be unintentionally putting them at risk,” she said. 

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