I put ground beef in the fridge 3 days ago and it's still frozen! Why isn't it thawing like normal?

  • Hi Oscar. Welcome to the site! I find that sometimes if my ground beef is packed tightly into a thicker or taller clump than usual, even at the same weight, it can take longer to thaw in the fridge. By any chance, is that the case with the one that's having this problem? – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Apr 5 '15 at 16:32

Either you've insulated it or your fridge is really cold. I suggest using a thermometer to check your fridge temperature.

Parts of your fridge may be at slightly different temperatures than other parts; it may help to move it to a warmer part of the fridge (if that can be done safely, you don't want it dripping on your produce, for example).

You could use the cold water method to defrost your ground beef if you're going to cook it all once its defrosted. The USDA has thawing instructions. Generally, I'd avoid microwave-thawing ground beef, unless its going into chili or similar, because those cooked bits on the outside prevent forming it into patties, etc.

  • I thaw ground beef all the time and it's always thawed in less than 24 hours. I haven't changed anything with the fridge, and I bought the ground beef as I always have from Pick N' Save. – Oscar Apr 3 '15 at 18:34
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    @Oscar, have you verified that nothing has changed? Do you have a before and after temp of your refrigerator. Mechanical devices have a way of breaking down over time and that's why commercial refrigerators have to be recertified from time-to-time to ensure that the proper temperature is maintained. – Mr. Mascaro Apr 3 '15 at 18:36
  • No need to microwave if you're making it into chili. You can cook it from frozen if you really have to -- cook one side, flip it over, then scrape off the cooked portion, flip it over again, scrape, etc. The bottom is typically easier to get started (as it's flat), but once you've gotten a couple of layers scraped off the top, it flattens out so it's making better contact with the pan. (and I should mention -- I find a wooden spatula to work best to separate it at the thawed layer) – Joe Apr 3 '15 at 18:49
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    @derobert true, most of my meat sauces however I cook the meat directly in the sauce. I guess that's the effect I like. I wasn't thinking about searing the meat in this case, but you are right – Escoce Apr 3 '15 at 20:43
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    @Oscar If you put it in a different spot in the fridge, you might've just found a cold spot, or if your fridge is filled more than usual you might've disrupted the air flow and made a new cold spot. – Cascabel Apr 5 '15 at 14:54

Other possibile reasons are. 1- the meat has a different water content than usual (you buy the same packet but they change suppliers), or/and 2- pick and save just got it from the storage freezer (-30C to the shop floor freezers (-18C) when you got it home it was still super frozen and it's going to take longer to thaw.

  • The temperature difference doesn't matter much due to the enthalpy of fusion; 0C (frozen) to 1C (defrosted) is about the same as -80C to 0C. That's for pure water, meat is probably not quite as drastic. An extra 12C isn't much compared to the almost 100C of energy normally required, especially as transfer is quicker the larger the temperature difference between the meat and the fridge. Though the different water may matter. Not sure how much it can vary. – derobert Apr 5 '15 at 15:21

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