The 9 Best Defrosting Trays
The Benefits Of Having A Defrosting Tray
Defrosting trays are becoming more popular with time, mostly due to the fact that they provide a few advantages over traditional methods of thawing.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends three different methods for thawing frozen food. Refrigerator thawing involves moving frozen food to the refrigerator to slowly raise the temperature while keeping it in the safe range. This is a very slow process, and involves a lot of forethought. Even small pieces of meat such as boneless chicken breasts can require a full day to thaw properly before being cooked. Using a defrosting tray drastically reduces the time it takes to thaw frozen foods when compared to using a refrigerator.
For quick thawing, the USDA recommends placing frozen food in a leak proof bag and submerging it in cold water. This cold water is then replaced every thirty minutes so it can continue to thaw properly. This process lowers the defrost time down to a few hours, but also wastes a lot of water. In comparison, a defrosting tray can achieve the same results without wasting any water at all. Consumers who are looking to reduce their impact on the water supply may find a defrosting tray an important step in the process.
The USDA lists defrosting trays among specialty devices that, when used correctly, promote safe food handling. Many defrosting trays are made of different metal alloys which conduct heat better than a wood, granite, or laminate countertop can, while also promoting more airflow to the food. This lowers the defrost time on most food items, which helps to ensure they are safe to eat. Defrosting trays also thaw food in a uniform fashion, making them the favored thawing method in many kitchens.
Why are Defrosting Trays Important?
Defrosting trays are often the most efficient way of defrosting food items. This makes them one of the most important aspects of thawing foods in preparation for cooking.
Freezing foods is an effective way to halt bacterial pathogen growth in foods like fish, beef, and poultry. This is because low temperatures inactivate certain enzymes which promote bacterial cells to grow and proliferate. The freezing process does not kill the bacterial strains outright, but rather keeps them from multiplying to dangerous levels.
When the thawing process begins, these bacterial cells begin their normal process of growth and reproduction. The USDA puts a heavy emphasis on what is called the danger zone for foods. Bacteria flourish at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The longer these bacteria spend in this ideal temperature, the more they multiply. When the bacteria in food reaches a certain level, the food is no longer considered safe to eat. The key to creating a safe meal lies in allowing foods to spend as little time as possible in the danger zone. This is the reason defrosting trays are so heavily favored. They help efficiently thaw foods to be prepared for cooking.
The temperatures of finished foods lie well outside the bacterial danger zone. Cooking meat to the correct temperature helps to alter the proteins so they are fit for human consumption and reduce the viable bacteria in the meat itself.
It is important to note that spoiled food cannot be safely cooked to eat. Bacteria produce toxins as part of their life process, and these toxins survive cooking. It is better to ensure the bacteria never reach high numbers by thawing food with a defrosting tray.
Does Freezing And Defrosting Have An Effect On Food?
There is a general concern among cooks and kitchens that freezing foods, especially meats, may affect their quality and taste. Multiple research teams have delved into the topic, and brought back some interesting answers.
When a cell is frozen, the water inside of it turns to ice. As water freezes, it expands. This expansion causes the cell walls to rupture, and the cell's contents to be released into its environment. This does not happen with every single cell during the freezing process, but many people believe that if it happens to enough cells, the quality and taste of the meat may change.
A study in the Journal of Animal Science investigated freezing and thawing methods to determine the effect they would have on the quality and look of beef. The researchers noted that frozen beef did in fact experience this purge loss, which is to say that more water was given off from the frozen beef than from fresh beef. This could be explained by the ruptured cells releasing their water content. The researchers noted that sensory markers like taste were not significantly affected by freezing, however.
A separate study investigated the effect of multiple freeze-thaw cycles on beef quality and safety. These researchers found that multiple freeze-thaw cycles improved the microbiological quality of the food by reducing the number of bacteria in the beef itself. However, their research also noted that repeated freezing and thawing of beef reduces its appealing color, juiciness, and overall tenderness. While freezing beef before cooking it does not appear to affect the meat, refreezing beef multiple times does appear to produce lower quality food.