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How long does it take for a frozen brisket to thaw? (Explained)

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Here we are, right smack in the middle of grilling season! Maybe you’re heading to the butcher right now to pick up a fresh brisker for a barbeque this weekend. Or perhaps the brisket that has been lying in your freezer since January can finally be used…

Fully defrosting meat isn’t difficult, but it does necessitate following a few food and safety requirements. Foodborne illnesses fluctuate in severity and are obviously not to be taken lightly.

Brisket is an extremely thick cut of meat that may take a long time to thoroughly defrost down to the centre. The best methods for doing so are usually thawing in a refrigerator or an ice-water bath, which will be discussed further below.

Defrosting Brisket

Always aim to thaw brisket in the fridge to start. It is the most preferred and secure way to defrost most meats. It makes sure that the brisket doesn’t reach unsafe temperatures and tip into the “danger zone”.

It ought to take (on average) 24 hours to completely thaw a brisket in the refrigerator per 5 pounds of meat. So, for instance, a 12-pound brisket would require around 60 hours to thoroughly thaw. Since you can safely keep raw meat in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, the duration shouldn’t be an issue.

When working with a larger brisket, most folks will divide it into 5-to-6-pound chunks. So, even if you thaw the entire brisket, it will defrost faster since it has been separated into separate portions.

With larger portions of brisket, it’s a good idea to give yourself plenty of time in advance to thaw it completely. 

Thawing Brisket in A Refrigerator

After preparing a baking dish or large bowl with paper towels, remove the meat from the freezer and set it straight in it. A tray or wide basin with high sides can also be used to capture any moisture leaked by the meat while thawing.

This helps prevent any cross contamination inside the fridge. 

Place the baking dish on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap or foil. In the event that drippings escape and leak from the tray, the bottom wrack is preferable.

Simply allow it to defrost completely, checking on it every few hours or so. Remove it from the fridge once it has thawed to inspect for ice crystals or frost. You may also use a skewer or temperature probe to check that the centre of the brisket has thoroughly defrosted.

Thawing Brisket Using a Cold-Water Bath

Make sure the brisket is securely wrapped to provide an airtight seal. Whatever wrapping it was in from the freezer should suffice (it should have already been stored in airtight packaging).

This prevents any moisture from coming into contact with the meat. For this, vacuum seal bags are preferred. 

Fill a container partially with extremely cold water, submerging the meat fully. The container should be deep enough to completely immerse the brisket.

If the brisket cannot be entirely submerged, rotate it every 30 minutes to keep the protruding pieces from rising over the danger zone.

Every 30 minutes, empty the cooler and refill it with fresh cold water. This is because the water will begin warming as the brisket defrosts, and it’s important to keep the water under 40 degrees(F).

This will need to be repeated multiple times until the entire brisket has defrosted. You may set a timer to notify you when it’s time to filter the water if that will help.

Check it the same way you would if it came from the fridge when you suspect it’s totally defrosted. Examine for ice crystals and probe the centre to ensure it has completely thawed. 

Can Thawed Brisket Be Refrozen?

If the brisket has thawed in the fridge, you can definitely refreeze it. Just be cautious to refreeze any type of meat within 3 to 5 days of thawing if you do so.

While it is safe to refreeze brisket, it could get a little drier and lose some of its quality, but it should still taste fantastic. 

Is Freezer Burnt Meat Safe to Eat?

When frozen goods lose too much moisture while being kept, it is referred to as freezer burn, which makes the meat tough and occasionally discolored. Sometimes, moisture will be released from frozen meat when it is being stored. 

If too much moisture releases, it freezes onto the meat, forming ice crystals and drastically degrading the quality.