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Defrosting of Frozen Food

Frozen food should always be used in strict rotation, as even if frozen, in domestic appliances it won"t last forever - so follow the instructions on a food you buy, and when freezing your own produce, chill and freeze it quickly.

As soon as a frozen food package starts to thaw, its contents begin to deteriorate. This thawing can be stopped by refreezing the package, which stops the deterioration; but some damage will have been done and can"t be undone. So it"s smart to pick frozen food packages from below the top of the stack and close to the sides of the freezer; to make them the last foods selected by the supermarket.

The way frozen food is defrosted at home is a crucial factor too. Take frozen meats - less than 5% of fresh beef, pork and lamb we eat is now frozen, but the figure is growing. It"s very important that meat is thoroughly defrosted, and this might mean overnight. Poultry is particularly dangerous; and this must be thoroughly cooked, to avoid food poisoning.

Vegetables are often best plunged straight into boiling water, but again follow the directions on any bought food - in our experience cooking for less tan the recommended times.

A good tip is too use lots of water, as it will recover to boiling temperature much more quickly. Restaurants sometimes use a little bicarbonate of soda to help vegetable keep their colour, but this detracts from their vitamin C content.

Prawns and similarly-sized shellfish can be safely-thawed in cold water, but must be used or refrigerated within 24 hours as they deteriorate rapidly.

As with all food - it shouldn"t be cooked in aluminium pans, as this may react with the vegetable - especially asparagus and artichokes. See 'Deep-Freezing and Refrigeration'

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