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Why do we need to freeze chicken?
Salmonella usually grows at a temperature range of 5-47C°, so putting raw chicken meat in the freezer right after buying you’ll be slashing the prevalence of bacteria by up to 90%. So while freezing your chicken won’t get rid of all the Salmonella bacteria, you’ll reduce it heavily.
To preserve flavour
Slow chilling your raw chicken meat will promote the formation of ice crystals in the meat, causing a lot of flavour loss when you thaw it. Putting your chicken in an airtight container and then placing it directly in the freezer is key to keeping your chicken meat free from ice crystals, preserving the taste even after a few weeks.
4 simple ways to defrost chicken
Duration: 1 hour for every 500g of chicken
Defrosting in a water bath is one of the most common ways of thawing poultry and is also one of the easiest. Place your raw chicken meat in an airtight bag and submerge it entirely in a bowl of cold water. What’s next? Well, go make yourself a cup of coffee, watch your favourite TV show, or make like your chicken and submerge yourself in a bathtub too. Check back after an hour and voila – your chicken is ready for cooking!
Tip: You want to keep the chicken submerged in cold water because prolonged exposure to hot water will cook the chicken slowly as well as promote bacterial growth. Check your water every 30 minutes and if it’s getting warm, change it.
Duration: 30 to 40 minutes
If you have a little less time – and don’t mind wasting a little bit of water – follow the same steps as above but simply leave the tap on so you have water gently showering the meat. You might think that it won’t make much of a difference, but it can speed up your thawing time by up to 50 percent!
Tip: Leaving your tap on full blast won’t speed up the process. Trickling water is enough to get the job done.
Duration: 4 to 5 minutes depending on the size
If you’re in a rush to make your chicken dinner, then consider using the microwave. While this method is technically the fastest when it comes to defrosting the bird, it also leaves the most room for error. You have to consider so many factors in order to thaw your chicken correctly: microwave type, wattage, and the size of your chicken piece.
The process is simple: Place your chicken pieces on a microwave safe container and heat in the microwave using the default setting. Check your chicken pieces and turn them over every minute – around three minutes to defrost a chicken thigh and four minutes to defrost a chicken breast.
Tips: It is important that you don’t crank your microwave any higher than the defrost setting. Doing so might cook the chicken, or promote the growth of bacteria. It is also important to cut up your chicken before placing it in the microwave.
Leaving it in the fridge overnight
Duration: 8 to 10 hours overnight
If you’re looking for the best and safest way to thaw your chicken then this method is your best bet. Sure, it also takes the most time, but slowly defrosting your chicken melts all the ice in the meat. It also keeps your chicken in a bacteria-safe temperature range, making it the best way to defrost your chicken if safety is your priority.
There are no shortcuts when doing this method. Simply take your chicken out of the freezer, place it in the fridge, and wait overnight.
Tips: Some people say that leaving raw chicken on the counter is the faster way to thaw it. While they may be right, they also don’t know that the cost of speed is safety because doing this is one of the most unsafe ways to thaw. Salmonella thrives in 5-47C° temperature.
Can you defrost and refreeze chicken?
It is highly recommended that you cook your chicken after you defrost it. Putting it back in the fridge or the freezer will only make it a breeding ground for bad bacteria and will also ruin the quality of your poultry.
How long after defrosting chicken should it be cooked?
You can cook chicken right after you defrost it. However, if you decide to cook it a little later, that’s fine too. The chicken meat will start entering the bacteria zone after two hours though, so make sure that you plan on cooking it within that period.