Old Fangled Meat Defroster — As Seen on TV!

by Katy on December 3, 2010 · 24 comments

But wait, there's more!

Remember those infomercials for the instant defrosters made of cast iron? Well my microwave went kaput last month, and we’ve been making do without ever since. And my cast iron pans? They also work to quickly defrost meat, (or a cube of frozen spinach for that matter) as the iron and the meat passively work together to equalize their temperatures. You’ll know it’s working when you grab the pan’s handle and it’s colder than a witch’s tit, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, a snowman’s Christmas plans.

Give it a try, it really works and doesn’t even require a bizarrely enthusiastic studio audience. And of course, click here to read all about food safety.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica December 3, 2010 at 5:11 am

Does the cast iron skillet need to be warm? I keep mine in my pantry which this time of year is pretty chilly. Should I put it on my radiator for a couple of minutes before trying this? Thanks!!


Sarah December 3, 2010 at 5:19 am

Assuming the cast iron pan is at room temperature to start, how long does it take to defrost the chicken?


Katy December 3, 2010 at 6:44 am

The pan does not need to be warmed up, and it took a little over an hour to defrost.



Krista December 3, 2010 at 5:36 am

Just wanted to say I’m glad to see you posting again 🙂


Kimberly December 3, 2010 at 5:59 am

Wow…had no idea that’s what made those defrosters work. I inherited my grandmother’s cast iron skillet. I have to give this a try.


Emily December 3, 2010 at 6:55 am

I don’t remember the infomercials – maybe because I don’t watch TV. How is this different than putting the chicken on a plate on the counter? Not that I’ve ever done that, of course……..


Katy December 3, 2010 at 7:00 am

Metal is a conductor of heat, right? It’s also true that metal is a conductor of cold. The two items, (cold chicken and room temperature cast iron) together will each change temperature until they meet equilibrium.

It’s actually quite “cool.”



Emily December 3, 2010 at 9:47 am

Thanks for explaining. So I assume this would work with a pound of ground beef too? Just so happens I have one of those to thaw today – I’m going to try it!


Tracy Balazy December 3, 2010 at 7:05 am

Cast iron’s the best!!! I love my two skillets and my Dutch oven!


Angela@beggingtheanswer December 3, 2010 at 8:34 am

Just another reason for me to get a cast iron skillet some day!


Joshua December 12, 2010 at 10:36 am

Lodge 10″ skillet is like $15-20 at Wal-Mart. Today can be “some day”!


Sarah December 3, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Perfect timing! I put cast iron skillets on my Christmas list! My mom had 2 that she never used, so she just brought them over to me the other day 🙂


Karen December 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm

I find lots of cast iron skillets at Goodwill. Some people give them away just because they get rusty. Rust is usually easy to remove with salt and then you can oil the pan and put it back in commission.


Allison December 3, 2010 at 7:21 pm

I could not live without my castiron!! I am always on the lookout for good old pans at yardsales and thrift stores. I always look for the heavier made in the USA pans….beware the ‘made in Taiwan’ pans and the lighter-weight, newer made in USA pans. the heavier the better for castiron. I have found antique pans at yard sales for as little as a dollar and seen the same piece going for $80.00 or more in an antique store. I have cleaned (with salt as per Karen above) and reconditioned many of them and passed them on to friends.


Christy December 4, 2010 at 7:16 am

Very cool! They say you learn something new everyday. Thanks for the tip!


Practical Parsimony December 4, 2010 at 10:54 pm

As much as I use cast iron, I never knew this fact, a good one to know. I have a cast iron pot with lid, two large cast iron skillets, a 10″ skillet, two 6″ skillets, and a square 6″ griddle. Oh, yes, I bought a Lodge lid for $3. Woohoo! LOVE cast iron. Then, in a freecycle box I got three more skillets. Lodge skillets are the best and made in TN, just north of me. If you find a Griswold, snap it up.


Jean December 5, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I never saw this infomercial, but don’t see much TV–but today I gained a very useful bit of information from my time “wasted” on the internet!! Thanks, Katy, I will be giving this a try!


Susan Lee December 9, 2010 at 5:17 am

I discovered by accident that the non-stick pans do the defrosting too! I used to have one of those defroster thingies from TV, too! They say not to use cast iron on the smooth top ranges, any ideas on that? I have old Lodge pans I’d LOVE to use!


WilliamB December 9, 2010 at 10:46 am

Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.

This phrase, oddly enough, is not obscene in origin. It’s nautical. The balls in question are cannon balls, which were made of iron. They were stored in a pyramid on a brass, well, plate is the best I can describe it: a flat rectangle with a bit of a lip; this was called a monkey. (The phrase is related to the pre-teens employed as “powder monkeys” to manage and deliver gunpowder to the gunners; I think the brass monkeys came first.) The cannon balls were made of iron because it’s cheap, the downside is it rusts but who cares if the ammo rusts? It did matter, however, if the brass monkey rusted because the ship wanted to keep using it rather than it dissolving into a pile of powder. So monkeys were made of the more expensive brass. As it happens, brass is more reactive to cold weather than iron, so in very cold weather the brass monkey contracted, and the cannonball pyramid was suddenly too big for the brass monkey and the cannonballs tumbled off.

By implication, there is a specific temperature range in which the balls freeze off a brass monkey but I haven’t been able to determine what that is.


WilliamB December 9, 2010 at 10:51 am

PS – I know this is unlikely to be true, but it’s great cover to use the phrase and it works on almost everyone. Even sailors.


Jeff September 20, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Well, except that cast iron is very porous. I’d be very concerned about the bacteria from the meat hiding in the pores of the cast iron.


Alexia March 8, 2015 at 9:04 am

Except, Jeff, that you are presumably going to heat the cast iron to hotter than 165F, which would kill any bacteria. So unless you’re planning to use your cast iron to slice vegetables meant to be eaten raw before you heat up that pan, I think you’re in pretty safe territory. 🙂


Sharon March 8, 2015 at 4:44 pm

I believe the original infomercial was an aluminum tray… Yes, any metal will work! So fantastic!!


Katy March 9, 2015 at 9:38 am

That might be why I wasn’t able to find it on the internet!


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