Cooking question: meat thawing device.

Once upon a time (the mid-90s, I think), I watched late night television.

For a while, a product was advertised that thawed / defrosted meat in record time. (“Just minutes!”) Supposedly, the device material accelerated the natural unfreezing process.

As someone who is sick and tired of defrosting chicken:

  1. Does anyone remember this device?

  2. Did it work?

  3. Why cannot I not find it (or some further evolution) anywhere online?

Thoughts much appreciated.

I suspect the agreement order from the Federal Trade Commission had something to do with the disappearance of the “Miracle Thaw” product. Excerpt below:A. There is a potential risk of buildup of harmful or unsafe levels of bacteria on perishable frozen food items defrosted or thawed on Miracle Thaw. Miracle Thaw operates at room temperature, and defrosting or thawing perishable food at room temperature, even for relatively short periods of time, increases the risk of harmful or unsafe bacteria buildup.

B. In many cases, Miracle Thaw will not defrost or thaw frozen food items in the claimed time periods. Defrosting or thawing times will vary depending on several factors, including the size, shape, and thickness of the food item, the number of items placed on the tray at one time, the number of times the tray is reheated during defrosting or thawing, and room temperature. In some cases actual defrosting or thawing times may be three or more times longer than the claimed defrosting or thawing times.

C. Miracle Thaw does not achieve the accelerated defrosting or thawing depicted in the advertisements referred to in Paragraph 8 by superconducting or transferring heat energy from the air into frozen food items. Miracle Thaw is a Teflon-coated aluminum tray that can only achieve the accelerated defrosting or thawing depicted in the advertisements referred to in Paragraph 8 if it is preheated before use and reheated during use. Similar results could be achieved with any aluminum pan.

Can’t think of a name for it, and a quick poke at “As Seen On TV” was also fruitless, but I recall seeing metal plates being hawked for this. The idea is that a metal heat sink will move heat faster than just plopping the meat on a ceramic plate or leaving it on the foam tray, which is a pretty good insulator.

That never gets old :smiley:

I know your question has been answered, but I feel that in the continuation to fight ignorace, it mgiht be of use for eveyone to learn the secret to the fastest damn way to safely defrost something.

Cold, running, water. Seriously. Put your meat, or whatever, in a plastic bag, remove all the air (or wrap in several layers of plastic wrap to make it water tight) and plop into a bowl or pot big enough to hold it and some water. Fill it with codl water, then stick it in the sink and turn on the faucet at a low rate.

You can thaw a completly frozen half-pound chicken breast in less than an hour.

Similarly an entire bag of buffalo-style chicken wings in a colander will thaw in a short time in this manner.

I have a Miracle Thaw (or a knockoff – I’m not sure; it was purchased at a store), and it works absolutely great for filets, and works as promised. Now a filet – chicken, beef, fish, whatever – is very thin and has a high degree of contact with the device, so it’s always seemed obvious to me that it works and that it should work. It also seems obvious to me that placing something awkwark – a chicken leg perhaps – on the thing is just plain silly. Now it’s a fairly good size thing, but even so you can’t expect to completely load it with multiple filets and expect it to work. Why do people buy things and expect them to work without knowing how they work? (There ought to be a law, except I’m libertarian so there shouldn’t be a law.)

As for bacteria, the government’s just a big fussy nanny. You’ve got to cook whatever you’re thawing. If I do something delicious like standing rib or beef tenderloin, you can bet your ass that my meat will be sitting on the countertop for an hour or more just to bring it to room temperature. The bacteria will cook off.

Still, I don’t use it that often. Despite the fact that it works, it’s just not very convenient. It’s a lot easier just to pull the steaks out of the freezer the night before than it is to dig the thing out of the storage area under the oven, put all of the sheet pans back, wash it when finished, and figure out how to jam it back under the oven.

I do this, too. If I’m in a hurry, turning the tap to a medium flow, and very warm, will defrost a single steak in a few minutes, especially if you turn it over a couple of times.


Water, cold if you have the time and are being fussy, warm if you need it quickly and don’t worry too much about bacteria.

Immerse frozen meat (in a watertight bag or the packaging you bought it in) in abasin, sink or bowl full of water, the water doesn’t have to be running.

If you use this method, make sure you cook the meat thoroughly, this is not the way you want to defrost fish for sushi or steak that is going to be cooked very rare.

While the wate doesn’t have to be runing, having running water reduces the thaw time by a large amount.

The reason being our good friend thermodynamics. There are three means by which something can lose or gain heat, they are:

  1. Conduction
  2. Convection
  3. Radiation

For our purposes, #3 is not used, but numbers 1 and 2 are. #1 is the heat lost to the surronding medium (or, in the case of thawing somrthing, the heat gained.) Water is better than air in every way when it coems to imparting it’s thermal energy into soemthing else. It has a higher rate of conduction, so the energy gets there faster and it has a higher specific heat, meaing for a given equal mass of water and air, the water will always have more energy stored in it.

So that’s why we defrost in water, nto air. But the biggie is #2, convection. Heat lost or gained through moving fluids. Ever wonder why large nad professional chefs use convection ovens? They can cook faster and more evenly. Same concept with defrosting something. By making the water move, you can defrost that son of a bitch faster than putting it in a warm oven.
Of course, if you’re gonig to leave it to thaw for several hours and don’t need it thawed right away, by all means don’t use running water, cause you’ll just run up your water bill. :stuck_out_tongue:

“Cook off”? You make it sound like the bacteria will disappear into thin air. If you raise the internal temperature of the meat to the recommended safe level (145[sup]o[/sup] F for steak, 160[sup]o[/sup] for most meats, 165[sup]o[/sup] for ground poultry) that will kill most of the bacteria, and it will not be dangerous as long as you are careful not to recontaminate the meat through contact with your defroster thingie, uncooked juices, or utensils used to handle raw meat.

However, some bacteria, such as * Staphylococcus aureus*, produce heat-stable toxins that are not destroyed by cooking. You should minimize the chances of contaminating the meat in the first place through proper sanitation of food-preparation equipment and surfaces, and by covering any wounds on the hands, and washing your hands throughly before cooking. And don’t touch your nose–50% of healthy adults have S. aureus thriving in their respiratory system. But because the meat may have been contaminated before you even bought it, and there is a vanishingly small chance that airborne bacteria could contaminate the meat, even in the cleanest kitchen, the safest course is minimizing the time that the meat spends in the danger zone, from 40[sup]o[/sup]-140[sup]o[/sup]F, which is the temperature range in which bacteria grow the fastest.

If you are confident that cooking will kill all the dangerous pathogens that may be swarming all over (and through) your meat, and you are willing to roll the dice on S. aureus toxin, then by all means, defrost your meat at room temperature. I’d kinda prefer not having my dinner serve as a bacterial incubator at any stage of the process.

There are very good reasons why virtually every health department in the country prohibits commercial food service estalishments from thawing food at room temperature or in standing water.

BTW according to many sources including Cecil, the typical kitchen has more germs than the bathroom, so don’t underestimate the probability of contaminating food in your home kitchen.

Wow, you must have never had a good piece of steak and must like dry turkey. I bet you’ve never had an authentic key lime pie or eggnog, either!

I’m not trying to be insulting, because honestly everything you said is absolutely correct. But for the record I never intimated defrosting meat at room temperature (except for one, single exception forthcoming), but reinforced the idea to use cold running water. The exception, of course, was when using a conductive surface such as the “Miracle Thaw” to defrost at room temperature. Because I insisted that one knows how it works before use, as well as the fact that it does work, there’s no problem with contamination – it won’t be out long enough to worry about.

Remember also that dead animals don’t have a functioning circulatory system. Things that aren’t already inside the meat at death won’t be there by time I cook it, either. New bacteria and other nasties will stay on the surface (inward migration occurs at the same rate as decomposition). That’s why meat can be aged in the danger zone and cooked rare. I would never dream of destroying a piece of beef by getting the internal temperature to 145 degrees! Pork used to have to be cooked to the high temperatures you recommend because pigs were infected live. That’s not the case anymore, and while I don’t like my pork rare, I no longer cook it to such extremes. I’m sure my abhorrence to rare pork is only a result of food safety paranoia having been pounded into me since birth.

It’s obvious that you’re sensitive about the topic, and because of the fact that you’re right I’m trying not to be critical. But I will suggest that you temper the alarmist attitude because that will result in lots of delicious food becoming a horrible dish. Healthy people have very, very little to worry about in their home settings with a little common sense and adherence to basic practices such as avoiding cross contamination that can result in the ingestion of live bacteria and/or their toxins. People that get sick get sick because they defrost on the countertop for multiple hours; not because they bring their tenderloin to room temperature first. Commercial eggnog has to be cooked because there’s time for one infected egg to produce bacteria and toxins that will infect thousands; use of such a single egg and immediate consumption may possibly happen at home, but if you’re healthy it’s a minor setback (and worth the 1:30000 chance for real key lime).

And finally, “cook off” is colloquial; it’s use isn’t intended for food hygeniests to get hysterical over! I know that you’re probably used to uneducated, little hicks that don’t have a clue as to why they should wash their hands after wiping, so just have faith that bacteria will, indeed, “cook off.” (not talking canned goods, remember).

The exception being ground meat. The grinding process takes whatever was on the surface and distributes it pretty evenly throughout the bulk. Forming into patties after thawing does a similar thing.

Yeah! Super important distinction. Don’t undercook ground meat unless I grind it myself.

So the S. aureus infesting in 50% of adults don’t leave toxins? If not how are the toxins made? and if they do leave toxins, I am confused as to the danger