Meat conducts heat very poorly. Smaller meat cuts will freeze and thaw much faster than large pieces. Thawing is a much slower process than freezing and is best done in a refrigerator. The process would be faster if performed at higher temperature but that would create favorable conditions for the growth of bacteria. During thawing a liquid leaks out from the meat being thawed.
Most people think of this liquid as blood as it is red in color. Actually, this exudate is a very valuable liquid and it should be saved. This liquid is the combination of extracted meat proteins, meat juice, minerals, water, collagen, blood, and other components. This is the result of ruptured meat cells and connective tissues by ice crystals. If the meat was submitted to fast freezing, smaller crystals were produced and less damage was made to the meat’s structure. As a result the drip loss would be smaller.
- Refrigerator. The air exhibits very poor conductive properties and the thawing process is slow. A circulating fan will definitely make it faster.
- Water. Water transfers heat or cold much faster than air and the meat immersed in ice cold water will thaw out much faster. There would be loss of meat juice unless a plastic bag is used.
- Microwave. Make sure the meat cuts are of uniform size.
Frozen meat will start thawing on the outside first. This results in moisture and favorable conditions for the growth of bacteria and that is why thawing should be performed at refrigerator temperatures.
Thawed meat can be re-frozen. What must be noted is that spoilage bacteria has already begun working on the meat in the thawing stage. Depending on how and where it was kept during thawing, its shelf keeping qualities will be shortened, even if re-frozen again.