Ribs are fantastic meat cuts that can be made in a variety of different ways. You can roast them, braise them, barbecue them, smoke them, and even fry or bake them.
However, you should know that ribs generally have less amounts of meat on them, so they must be cooked in an appropriate fashion.
If cooked the right way, ribs can be extremely tasty. However, if you pick up a slab of ribs from your local supermarket for cooking, you should know that thawing them is a big problem.
Most people don’t make ribs right away after bringing them home, and like all other types of meat, they must be stored in the freezer.
Keeping the ribs outside is a recipe for disaster and could cause them to spoil. Like all other perishable items, you have to make sure that the ribs are kept in the freezer.
Over the passage of time, these ribs are going to freeze completely, and it’s going to be very difficult for you to thaw them out properly.
Obviously, it can be difficult to defrost them unless you use the right methods. You should understand that there is an appropriate method that must be used to thaw out the frozen ribs.
If you are thinking of just chucking them in the oven or the microwave until they are thawed, you might want to understand the logic behind the process.
Like all other types of meat, the ribs must be thawed in an appropriate fashion. There are several approved methods that you can use to thaw out the frozen ribs.
Here are a few important steps that you can take.
1 – Thawing Ribs at Room Temperature
All perishable foods such as meat must not be left on the counter to thaw. It doesn’t matter if you put the ribs in hot water, you have to make sure that you avoid leaving them out.
To prevent them from getting spoiled, you must not leave the ribs out on the counter for more than a couple of hours.
You should know that when you leave the ribs out on the counter to thaw, they are likely to reach the temperature zone in which they will spoil. This usually falls between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is the temperature at which the bacteria begins to multiply at an exponential rate, and your ribs are going to go bad sooner than you know.
Some people often believe that because the center is still a bit frozen, the ribs won’t reach this zone. Unfortunately, it’s still possible, especially when you consider the areas in the corner.
When the meat is frozen, the bacteria inside remains dormant. However, as soon as the meat starts to thaw and the ice begins to melt, the bacteria begins to activate, and will soon begin to multiply.
You should know that the United States Food Safety and Inspection Service has stated that when you leave the meat out at an unsuitable temperature, it is likely to increase the growth of pathogens. Harmful pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella are likely to appear in the meat.
Furthermore, you should know that the rate at which these bacteria grow is the same on defrosting food as they are on fresh food that is not kept at a temperature around 40 degrees F.
You will notice that your ribs have become spoiled because an uncharacteristic odor will start to emanate from the ribs. Furthermore, they are likely to change color, and a slimy or sticky texture will develop on the ribs.
If you leave it for any longer, mold will start to appear on the ribs, and you will have to discard them properly.
Foodborne bacteria can cause an illness in under 20 minutes in your body, according to the United States Food Safety and Inspection Service. In fact, these illnesses can stay for up to six weeks once you have eaten the contaminated food.
There are quite a few symptoms that are likely to manifest themselves over time, such as serious gastrointestinal discomfort, vomiting, a high fever, and serious abdominal pain. More importantly, you are likely to experience diarrhea as well.
Common flu-like symptoms like body aches and headaches are also likely to manifest themselves. So, as you can understand, thawing the ribs at room temperature, while common, is slightly risky.
2 – Defrosting in the Refrigerator
The best way to thaw the ribs in a safe and secure manner is to plan ahead. You should know that if you want to cook the ribs on a Saturday, you need to start thawing them on Friday.
According to the US FSIS, it can take up to a full day for the ribs to thaw properly.
Of course, you also have to factor in the temperature of your refrigerator. For instance, food is likely to take longer to thaw out when the temperature is kept at 35°F as compared to 40°F, so it might be a wise idea to increase the temperature ever so slightly.
When you are going to defrost the ribs, it might be a wise idea to place them in a container so that any drippings will be caught when the ribs begin to thaw.
The raw juices found in the meat are likely to spill all over your fridge, so it’s important for you to take appropriate steps and prevent this from happening.
As mentioned above, you should never thaw the ribs at room temperature because of the risk of bacteria. The good thing about defrosting and thawing the ribs in the refrigerator is that they can be kept inside for up to three to five days.
In case you change your mind and decide that you won’t be making any ribs, you can easily refreeze them.
This cannot be done if you decide to thaw the ribs at room temperature, because once the bacteria start to multiply, freezing the ribs is just like delaying the inevitable.
Keep in mind, however, that freezing them this way is likely to result in a loss of quality too.
3 – Defrosting in the Microwave
If you are short on time and need to get a head start on your meal preparation, you might want to consider defrosting the ribs in the microwave. This is perhaps the fastest way to thaw the ribs, but there are still a few important safety rules that you must stick by.
Once you have taken the ribs out from the freezer, you have to start by removing all of the packaging. All store packaging on the ribs, including the labels and the plastics, will need to be removed. If there is a foam tray, get rid of that too.
Keep in mind that most of the common types of packaging that is used nowadays is not resistant to heat, and will soon melt into the ribs as you begin to microwave them.
There is a strong chance that the plastic wrap is likely to melt and eventually cause harmful chemicals to leak out into the meat. You should keep the ribs in a container that is suitable for use in a microwave, and then put a loose cover on top.
Most modern microwave ovens come with a defrost option built in, so you just have to choose that and then select the kind of meat that you are thawing.
If your microwave does not come with that feature, you should bring down the power all the way to 30%.
Keep in mind that the thawing process is likely to take around seven to eight minutes for each pound of meat. It also depends on the thickness of the ribs and the power supplied by the microwave.
Make sure that the container continues to rotate automatically inside the microwave, because the heat needs to be spread out evenly to thaw the ribs properly. If your microwave does not have a built-in rotating tray, you should stop it halfway and then turn it yourself.
Keep in mind that the edges are likely to cook ever so slightly as the ribs continue to defrost, but the inside is still going to remain frozen. Remember, there is a safety concern involved in uneven thawing, especially if certain parts of the ribs reach that dreaded 40°F mark.
That is one of the main reasons why you should start cooking microwave-defrosted food as soon as possible. If you delay the procedure for even a few minutes, the bacteria will start to multiply very quickly.
These are just some of the best methods that you can use to thaw the ribs. As you can see, the safest method to use is to put them in the refrigerator at least a day before you are going to cook them.
By the time you take them out, they will be just the perfect temperature and ready to be cooked however you like!
Now that the ribs are ready to cook, try my Raging River Tender Smoked Ribs on the Big Green Egg.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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