16 August 2008

Quick-thaw McGraw

I came across a posting on Apartment Therapy's kitchen blog the other day that reminded me of another one of granite's many positive attributes.

We know granite isn't everyone's cup of tea around here, but it does have a remarkable ability to defrost things. We'll leave a frozen chicken breast out (in a plastic bag, for all of you ready to wave your disinfecting wipes in protest) and it'll be soft and pliable in half the time it would take sitting in the sink or on another surface.

The writer, Elizabeth Pasarella, goes on to ask her readers for an explanation. If you've never read Apartment Therapy's website, they regularly do this kind of call and response with their readers. It's usually pretty informative and entertaining. Anyhow, A physicist who calls himself tulpoeid wrote this in response:

Physicist here ... although I've never given granite a thought before... Katti is absolutely right, if something feels cold to the touch (at room temperature of course) then it conducts heat rather well. And if it quickly transfers heat away from your hand, then it can also quickly transfer heat to the frozen food. This is why metal feels cool etc. The heat conductivity depends on the molecular structure so each material has its own, and although granite's is lower than metals' it's still higher than many other materials'. In this case the smooth surface also helps: notice how coarser materials feel warmer to the touch (e.g., cotton vs. silk). This is due to their molecules being a bit farther part, so their individual motion cannot be as easily transferred from one to the next. And molecule motion = heat.

Other respondents continued to echo this theme of granite's abilities as a heat conductor. Interesting. Interesting to me at any rate. I've always been one to thaw frozen food under running water, but it's really wasteful to do so and I've stopped. This seems like a good, efficient alternative.

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