The Citrusy Hack That Quickly Thaws Frozen Chicken Without A Microwave

The secret to being a good cook, many will say, is advance planning. If you're the always-prepared type, you'll be sure to have your chicken thawed the night before you need it. In the real world, though, things don't always work that way so we love a good workaround that bails us out of a frozen food emergency. Should you need to thaw chicken in a pinch, the microwave really isn't your best bet. As the U.S. Department of Agriculture points out, some of the chicken may actually start to cook in the microwave as the meat thaws. Instead, it recommends soaking chicken in cold tap water, but we have an even better hack where the cold water is enhanced with a few other ingredients.

While the USDA recommends that chicken thawed in cold water be wrapped in plastic, this hack involves submerging unwrapped chicken in water, then stirring a pinch each of salt and sugar into the water along with some fresh lemon juice. According to the National Library of Medicine, the salt is meant to prevent bacterial growth while the sugar helps keeps the chicken moist, and the two are often used together in poultry brining solutions. The lemon, however, has acidic properties that really help the chicken thaw quicker as it aids the breakdown of the chicken's muscle fibers.

Lemon juice has all kinds of benefits for raw chicken

Besides helping raw chicken to thaw more quickly, lemon juice also has other benefits. If you have had the foresight to thaw your chicken ahead of time, that's all well and good, but after a day or two it can start to smell and taste a little too chickeny. Squeezing some fresh lemon over the chicken and rubbing it into the skin can help to neutralize any off-putting odors or flavors, however. Rubbing a little lemon juice into your chicken may possibly help to kill off harmful bacteria, as well, as per a study cited in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

One of the main reasons to squeeze fresh lemon juice over your uncooked chicken, of course, is to impart some fresh and tangy flavor. Lemon juice is frequently used in marinades such as the one Giada De Laurentiis uses for her chicken thighs. There is one caveat to using this acidic ingredient, however, in that chicken should not be soaked in lemon juice for more than two hours. Any longer and the meat will go beyond the point of tender and start to get mushy or possibly rubbery, This just goes to show that even with such a perfect pairing as chicken and lemon juice, you can still have too much of a good thing.