Can you use an Instant Pot as a de-froster?
January 22, 2018 3:20 PM   Subscribe

I know you can use frozen meat in an instant pot recipe, and it just takes longer -- like you can throw your frozen beef cubes in for beef stew and it'll still work. But can you take frozen ground beef, defrost it in the instant pot, and then make hamburgers? Or defrost frozen pork chops in there, and then fry them?

Basically we find that freezing stuff like meat or heavy stews works well for us except for the part where you have to remember to start thawing it in water 2 or 3 hours before you want to cook or eat it.

Thawing something in the refrigerator overnight is also not a great solution -- it's fine for when we know what we want to eat the next day and have the wherewithal to plan it the night before but that's never going to be a habit for us.

We don't use the microwave to thaw meat -- I'm under the impression that it's a bad idea, for texture and maybe energy-wasting reasons, but if I'm wrong please let me know.
posted by mrmurbles to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sorry one point of clarification -- I'm not asking whether we can make hamburgers or pork chops in the instant pot, but rather if we can defrost the meat in the instant pot, then cook it to our liking on the stove or oven.
posted by mrmurbles at 3:22 PM on January 22, 2018

I defrosted ground meat in my instapot. Then I fried it up for tacos. Maybe 30 minutes.
posted by kerf at 3:25 PM on January 22, 2018

I have read literally hundreds of recipes and blogs and tips and tricks about using the IP. I’ve never seen defrosting as a hack. I’d think that the temperature would get too high and would cook the outside (of a pound of ground beef) before the inside would thaw.

The ground beef I buy is packaged as a thin, vacuum sealed rectangle and is very quick to thaw in a bowl of cold water that I change out a couple times. Can you repackage your ground beef in a similar fashion?
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:27 PM on January 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's safe to defrost meat in a hot water bath. This cuts defrost time way down.
posted by caryatid at 3:35 PM on January 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think the answer is no, defrosting by putting things in a warm place does not work well. If it's warm enough to defrost, it's warm enough to cook the outside layer, and or keep it too warm too long to pass food safety muster.

A better way to defrost is to arrange food in a single layer on an aluminum pan like a cookie sheet. Even better, a cold electric grill. There was a sold-on-tv item some years back that was just a thick sheet of Al sold for this purpose.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:56 PM on January 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is not necessary, it won't work the way you want it to because heat is involved. I love my Instant Pot, but no.

For quick defrosting, it's Science to the Rescue!!

- Put frozen item in a ziploc bag and suck out as much air as possible (use a straw, or use the "submerge method" - google it.) In fact, you are going to submerge the item in coldest water, so you are looking for as much contact (with the bag barrier) between the temperature of the water and the temperature of the frozen item. Any air in the bag will act as an insulator + cause the item to float.

- Fill a basin or pot with the coldest water possible and submerge the bag. Most everything defrosts this way in 30 min or less, and will be cold and uncooked (raw), ready for any recipe. Something thicker than 2 inches might take an hour. A turkey or frozen whole chicken has an air pocket inside the bird's cavity, preventing the flesh closest to the bone surrounding the cavity from defrosting quickly this way - it might take longer to fully defrost - but defrost it will.

Cold water is the ticket to quick defrosting.
posted by jbenben at 4:27 PM on January 22, 2018 [11 favorites]

The trick with microwave defrosting is to turn it/break it apart during the defrosting process, and remove it as soon as it’s thawed enough to work with. Otherwise you risk cooking the edges of the food. It requires more tending and handling of the meat than the bowl method but it is faster. I don’t know about the energy efficiency angle though.
posted by cabingirl at 8:09 PM on January 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

According to Alton Brown, the cold pot of water method of defrosting works even better if you leave a small trickle of cold water running into the pot, causing it to instantly spill over the sides. You don't need much - just a trickle will do.
posted by COD at 5:41 AM on January 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Kenji Lopez-Alt of the Food Lab/Serious eats recommends placing frozen food on aluminum baking sheets to thaw, he says its conductive ability and relatively high surface area is faster than defrosting on a counter (but I don't know that he compared it to cold-water-submersion).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:28 AM on January 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

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