Unlike the preparation of chicken, beef, or turkey, bacon is one of those types of meats we rarely plan for in advance. Commonly used as an ingredient for breakfast dishes like eggs or last-minute party hors d’oeuvres, the need for bacon means we tend to need it fast! So how do we safely and quickly defrost bacon?
Defrosting bacon is an essential precooking practice as cooking frozen bacon will take much longer and usually does not cook evenly. The frozen bacon will release excessive water content and won’t fry properly in the rendered fat and, as a result, won’t make the bacon crispy.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, the three safest ways to defrost bacon are in the microwave, refrigerator, and cold water. This article will go over these various techniques and some common questions associated with safely defrosting bacon.
How to Defrost Bacon in a Microwave
When using a microwave to defrost bacon, it’s essential to plan to cook it almost immediately after it thaws. It should also never be refrozen as this can compromise the food safety guidelines for time-temperature control and leave the presence of undestroyed bacteria.
A package of bacon should generally take about a few minutes to defrost in the microwave. Most microwaves offer a defrost setting you can use for this process. The best defrosting method is to place the bacon on a microwave-safe plate and defrost for one minute. Flip the bacon over and rotate the plate, allowing it to defrost for another minute or until completely thawed.
A helpful tip for maintaining the bacon’s texture is to unwrap the bacon’s packaging and instead wrap it in paper towels. You can also poke a few holes in the packaging so the steam can vent and minimize the risk of an explosion.
How to Defrost Bacon in the Fridge
Defrosting bacon in the refrigerator is an effective method that usually involves planning ahead as it can take some time to thaw the bacon safely. The bacon will be safe in the fridge for up to 7 days before cooking. In this case, only, it is okay to refreeze the bacon as long as it is within this timeframe.
It’s best to put the frozen bacon on the refrigerator around 10 to 24 hours before cooking. The defrosting time will vary based on how much bacon there is, how tightly it has been packed, and the refrigerator’s temperature settings.
While this method might take some time, it maintains moisture, flavor, and texture quality in the bacon. It’s also the easiest and requires very little work on your part!
How to Defrost Bacon in Water
If you don’t have enough time to defrost your bacon in the refrigerator, the next best method would be to defrost it in cold water. Defrosting bacon in water should take no longer than two hours to complete.
When executing this method, be sure to have the frozen bacon in a leak-proof package or zip-lock bag. This is important because if the bag leaks, bacteria from the air and environment can contaminate the bacon. The bacon will also absorb the water that has leaked, resulting in an unpleasant taste and texture.
Once the frozen bacon is enclosed securely, submerge the bag into cold water. You should change the water about every 30 minutes as the bacon continues to thaw. It’s important to note that once completely thawed, the bacon needs to be cooked immediately.
How to Defrost Bacon in an Oven
Defrosting bacon in an oven isn’t a recommended practice and is less than ideal. If you go about it this way, it’s best to do so with the oven or stove at low temperatures to ensure the bacon is evenly thawed and not cooked.
It is also possible to cook bacon in the oven straight from the freezer, but you need to ensure it’s cooked thoroughly. It’s often the case when cooking meats in their frozen state that the outside will look cooked or at times even burnt, while the inside is still frozen and uncooked.
How Long Will Bacon Last After Defrosting
You should only defrost the bacon pieces you will be using for your meal rather than the entire package. As we stated earlier, thawed bacon will keep in the refrigerator for up to 7 days, and refreezing is only suggested within that timeframe and when defrosted using the refrigerator method.
It would be best to store the defrosted bacon in an airtight bag or container in the refrigerator. Refreezing after defrosting is not recommended as it can be unsafe and promote the growth of bacteria.
Safety Tips for Defrosting Bacon
You should avoid defrosting bacon at room temperature. Since we cannot control the room temperature, this increases the chances of bacteria growth in the bacon’s outer side as this area defrosts much more quickly than the center. It will also take you around seven to eight hours to defrost fully.
Never partially cook or brown the bacon and then put it in the fridge to resume cooking later, as this also encourages the growth of bacteria. It also makes it difficult to destroy existing bacteria
Always ensure that you cook the bacon all the way through. If you’ve burnt it to a crisp, it’s been cooked sufficiently and at the optimal temperature. Bacon can also often remain somewhat pink even if you’ve cooked it completely.
The best ways to cook bacon thoroughly are using a skillet or pan on the stovetop, in an oven, or microwave. Cooking time will depend on the bacon’s density, the type of heat used, and how crispy you’d like it to be!
When it comes to defrosting bacon or any other type of meat, you should consider safety measures.
If you’re low on time, defrosting in the cold water or the microwave is ideal. If you have a bit of time and prefer the bacon to be at its optimal moisture and texture level, defrosting in the refrigerator is the best option.
Always try to avoid refreezing any meat after defrosting and never cook partially thawed meat.