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Food Safety: Using a Microwave Oven to Defrost

Jul 26, 2010

No matter if you are reheating leftovers, or starting with an entirely new meal, food safety is important. This article discusses how to properly defrost food using your microwave. Be sure to allow yourself enough time in order to achieve optimal results--this may take longer than you think!

Purchase Materials

The most important step in properly using a microwave to defrost food is to use materials that are right for the job. In this case, the right materials include:

  • a heavy duty sealable plastic bag, such as those that can be found at grocery or home improvement stores
  • a microwave safe bowl
  • a food vacuum
  • a thermometer

While a food vacuum is not critical to food safety when defrosting it in the microwave, it can still come in handy. However, an accurately working food thermometer is crucial for both safety and great taste when defrosting. Test your thermometer out on a room temperature product to determine its accuracy before using with food that has been defrosted.

Prepare the Food to Be Defrosted

Put the food that is to be defrosted in one of the sealable plastic bags. If you do have a food vacuum, feel free to use it at this point to remove all air from the bag--however, this can also be done with relative success by removing the air manually. Removing all excessive air from the bag is very important in that it ensures the food is cooked evenly, and some areas aren't more well done than others. Next, fill the microwave safe bowl approximately halfway full with water, and place the bag that is holding the food item into the water bath. Examine the bowl; the water should cover the food item completely at this point. If there is not enough water in the bowl to do this, pour more water into the bowl until the food has been completely submerged.

Cook the Food

When cooking food, it is important to remember that all frozen items will vary in the amount of time they require to defrost depending on their size, density level, and how fully frozen they are. If you are defrosting a prepacked item, there will more than likely be instructions on the package that state how long the item should be cooked. If, however, you are reheating a product, you will need to use caution and insight to determine how long it needs to cook. If you are reheating an item, starting with a relatively short amount of time--such as ten minutes. Test the item after this period of time is up to determine how much longer it should be cooked.

Test the Food

Finally, use the food thermometer to test the item for doneness. If you are defrosting a prepacked item, it should say on the label what the ideal internal temperature of the product is. If, however, you are reheating food, use common sense. Typically, meat items should be heated to at least 150 degrees, while vegetables and grains can be safely eaten at 130 degrees.

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