Thawing frozen vegetables is actually a little more complicated than the standard method of thawing meats and seafood overnight in the refrigerator. Doing this with veggies makes once crisp snow peas, red peppers and water chestnuts limp. A different approach is needed to preserve the delicate cell walls of frozen vegetables.
Cook From Frozen
The preferred method of thawing frozen vegetables is to cook them direct from frozen.
Bring a little water—generally 1/2 to 2/3 cup per 16 ounces of frozen vegetables—to boil in a covered saucepan over medium heat. Add the vegetables and cover. Occasionally separate the pieces as they cook. Continue until the veggies are tender, typically 7 to 10 minutes.
To stir-fry frozen veggies, heat a wok or skillet and add peanut oil. Add the frozen vegetables and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until crisp.
Microwave frozen vegetables as an alternative method of cooking direct from frozen. Place them directly in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 to 4 tablespoons of water, and microwave for 4 minutes on high. Check the vegetables and stir. Continue cooking minute by minute until heated through.
Thaw large ears of corn on the cob partially in the microwave if you plan to boil them on the stove top, and eat them immediately after cooking. This lets the cobs heat through before the kernels turn mushy. Smaller ears may be okay to boil directly from frozen. Microwave frozen ears of corn in 1/4 cup of water. Start with 4 to 6 minutes for two ears, 8 to 10 minutes for four ears and 11 to 14 minutes for six ears.
Thaw Under Water
Defrost specific leafy and bulky frozen vegetables, like broccoli spears, turnip greens and spinach, by holding them in their packaging under cold running water. Avoid warm or hot water. Gently press the packaging with your fingers and thumbs to feel for change in texture of the vegetables from frozen solid to thawed. Open the packaging and briefly drain the vegetables in a colander before using in a recipe.
Cook frozen vegetables immediately after thawing to avoid mushiness.
An award-winning writer and editor, Rogue Parrish has worked at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and at newspapers from England to Alaska. This world adventurer and travel book author, who graduates summa cum laude in journalism from the University of Maryland, specializes in travel and food -- as well as sports and fitness. She's also a property manager and writes on DIY projects.