Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Defrosting without a microwave

Joy wrote to me with this question:

How do you defrost something if you do not have a microwave? I have one problem... reheating left overs (we eat quiet a few of them) and defrosting left overs that I have frozen.

Defrosting things without a microwave means that I usually have to think ahead -- at least a little bit.

Meats: Preferably these are planned ahead and can be defrosted in the fridge. For an emergency solution, thaw meat in a bowl of cold water in the sink (check on it often and remove it as soon as it's thawed!).

Cheese: I freeze blocks of cheese (bought on sale) and they thaw nicely in the fridge (slow), on the counter (faster), or in a bowl of cold water (fastest).

Soups: Preferably these can be thawed in the fridge, but I have also been known to put a big chunk of icy soup into a pan on the stove to thaw as it heats up. Just run hot water on the outside of the container to get it out.

I occasionally freeze leftovers, and usually thaw them in the fridge in advance. For re-heating leftovers, we use the oven (for things like pizza, lasagna, etc. -- when it's cold outside!) or saucepans.

Does anyone else have any good microwave-less defrosting or leftovers tips for Joy? :)

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Comments

This is a great post! I have often wondered how to defrost safely and effectively. Thank you!

You can also throw some of your frozen meals directly into the oven and cook it for double the time. This has worked for us!

A double boiler or a steamer (bamboo, metal basket, whatever you have) work for reheating leftovers. Do them one at a time or fit several small pyrex-type containers in side-by-side if leftovers are in small quantities. Even little pouches of aluminum foil will do in a pinch. If you have a lot to reheat, use the oven on a low temp and put lids on containers to hold the steam they'll create as they heat. Sprinkle a few drops of water over anything that might be prone to drying out.

To defrost things quickly, lay the frozen food on a solid metal surface such as a cast iron skillet. Those as-seen-on-TV defrost thingies (looks like a solid trivet, sort of) work on that principle. And remember that everything doesn't have to be completely thawed before you can start cooking or reheating it. Meat's easier to slice if it's still kind of firm and as soon as you can break up leftovers into smaller pieces they could be ready to reheat on top of the stove or in the oven.

We have a microwave but rarely use it. Ugh, that grey color and meat's texture change sometimes when defrosting are disgusting! And I always use Tammy's suggestion for reheating soups -- they make too much mess in the m'wave for me otherwise. Don't give up! You can get by without it.

Do you use a crock pot often? I try to use it more when I going to be busy and I need some more ideas and you always have great ideas. thanks Lisa

oops! I guess I was tired last night. Can you delete my first post? It was supposed to say, dairy and soy FREE sour cream. Thank you!

Not too long ago I bought a turbo oven. It's a countertop convection oven, but the oven part is a large glass bowl. I haven't tried it for defrosting, but the directions say it's good for that. I love it for reheating. You do have to stir it as it tends to dry things out on top if you don't. It's great for heating up a single plate of food, too. That's not all I use it for, but you'll have to wait unitl I write a post on it!
The Gluten-Free Homemaker

Well, I don't know what this says about the safety of non-stick cookware, but if you place meat on a teflon or similar coated cookie sheet, or we use a non-stick saute' pan, it will defrost pretty quickly on the counter, especially if it's flat cut, like a steak or chicken breast. I don't know why, but it works.

That's true for any kind of metal pan, cast iron or whatever, so no need to worry about nonstick being "weird"--at least not for that reason. :p

I think the direct contact is what thaws the meat more quickly. :)

I don't know if this is implied, but if you are thawing meat sans microwave by immersing it in water, keep it in a ziploc bag, and place something heavy like a rock on top of it. It seems to work more quickly.

Also, chicken, for example, can be sliced into strips for sauteeing when it is still half-frozen and it will still cook - just check the thicker slices before you assume they're done.

Our wooden deck gives off a lot of heat, so when there is no snow on it, I'll often toss a baggie of shredded cheese on there to thaw it quickly.

Kelly (www.kellythekitchenkop.com)

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