When defrosting a steak, soaking it in water is a controversial method.
While you may have watched your parents soak the steak in water or simply leave it on the counter to defrost, you may have been told by friends or neighbors that these methods spoil the steak.
Then, you may see that same friend marinate their steak in a bowl of water, which can be confusing, to say the least.
So, which is it? Is it OK to soak your steak in water or not? And if you do, is it still safe to use?
Admittedly, this is a tricky question to answer, but hopefully, this article will resolve the debate once and for all.
Soaking Steak in Water
Soaking steak in a bowl of hot water can cause bacteria to form and result in food-borne illness. In that case, it’s not safe to eat. Additionally, soaking the steak in water will reduce the natural flavors of the meat but will increase tenderness. If you decide to defrost your steak in a bowl of water, seal it in an airtight Ziplock bag and soak the bag in cold water. However, brining your steaks is safe, provided you use cold water, and the marinade bowl is refrigerated.
Soaking Steak in Hot Water Leads to Food-Borne Illness
While soaking steak in hot water is a quick and effective defrost method, it isn’t safe.
Sure, you may get lucky the first few times and not fall ill, but you are taking a chance on your health.
According to the USDA, the danger zone for meat temperature ranges between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and the temperature of your steaks will likely fall into that range at some point, while they are sitting on your countertop in a bowl of hot water.
Essentially, you are begging to be food-poisoned by using this method of defrosting. Microwaves aren’t a better option either.
Although there’s a defrost function on most microwaves, you shouldn’t use it to defrost meats.
Not only could it dry out your steak or cause it to cook unevenly, but microwave defrosting can also lead to food-borne illness.
Hopefully, you found this article before placing your steak in the microwave or in a bowl of hot water, as these methods will render your steak unusable.
Soaking Steak in a Sealed Bag in Cold Water is Safe
While water will absorb much of the steak’s flavoring, it does enhance the tenderness of the cut.
Aside from water being an effective defrost method, the additional tenderness is one of the main reasons that people soak their steak in water.
However, it’s unsafe to soak steaks directly in a bowl of water and leave them to defrost on the kitchen counter, regardless of the water’s temperature.
Although the best way to defrost steaks is to allow them to sit in the refrigerator, this method may take several hours, which may not work for you when you’re hungry, but it’s one of the safest ways to defrost meat.
Alternatively, you can seal your steaks in airtight plastic bags and allow the bags to soak in a bowl of cold water.
If the steaks aren’t directly exposed to the elements and you use cold water, the steaks will be perfectly safe for you to eat.
Brining Steaks as Marinade in a Bowl of Cold Water
Now, this is where you begin walking a fine line.
Many people brine their steaks in a bowl of cold water and seasonings to increase the meat’s tenderness without compromising flavor.
This method is said to work well and is completely safe…provided you take a few precautions.
When brining steaks, you should only soak them in cold water and allow them to marinate in a sealed bowl that’s placed in the refrigerator to prevent contamination.
This is the one scenario where you can allow your steaks to soak directly in the water.
Many people claim that brining steaks leads to juicy, rich meat that’s loaded with flavoring.
So, how do you brine steaks?
A gallon of water and a cup of salt is a common brining recipe, but you can also add garlic and any heavy or whole seasonings of your choice.
Brining will aid in the absorption of water, resulting in a moist, tender, and juicy piece of steak. In this case, soaking steak is a good thing.
Frequently Asked Questions About Soaking Steak in Water
Is waterlogged meat safe?
Generally speaking, yes, it is. However, you should avoid soaking meat in hot water, and always seal your meat in a plastic bag when defrosting it in cold water, unless you are brining your steaks in salt and seasonings.
How long should a steak be left to brime?
Steaks should be completely submerged in the brine solution and left to soak in the refrigerator anywhere from thirty minutes up to twenty-four hours.
Is it bad to soak steak in water?
While you should never place steaks in a bowl of hot water, plenty of people do soak their steaks in cold saltwater to brine them before cooking. This can actually be good for the steaks and is perfectly safe if you keep the bowl of water refrigerated and covered and are careful to avoid cross-contamination.
Is soaking steaks in water a good or bad thing?
If you defrost your steaks in hot water, you’ll take a chance at using them, but soaking them in a cold saltwater brine can tenderize the meat and enhance the flavor.
But as long as you enjoy your steak dinner, that’s what matters the most.