Guide to Freezer Storage
Freezing food can save you both money and time. It allows you to buy in bulk, which is usually less expensive. It also gives you the convenience of being able to have previously prepared, healthy meals available with just a little thawing. The keys are to freeze your food properly, and know how long a food should stay frozen. This will ensure your frozen food is always safe, and tasty!
Frozen food should be stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. A freezer/fridge thermometer will help you ensure it is always at the proper temperature. While food that is frozen at below 0 will remain safe indefinitely, the quality of that food will decrease the longer it’s in there. It’s important to note that freezing food does not reduce the nutrients, and that freezer burn does not mean a food is unsafe. Freezer burn is a food quality issue, not a food safety issue.
It’s also worth mentioning that in the event of a power outage, a full freezer will stay at a safe temperature for 48 hours, if the door remains shut. As long as the thermometer doesn’t read more than 40 degrees, your food is safe to either refreeze or cook.
There are ways to increase the quality of your frozen foods. Not having items in airtight packaging can cause dry spots in food. Simply using airtight, moisture proof containers will help. For example, using foil, freezer bags, and plastic containers will keep air out and freshness in. And make sure you label your foods, and date when they were frozen. Many foods can look similar after freezing, and using foods before they have been stored too long reduces waste and improves taste.
Some recommended storage times for frozen foods are:
Fresh Meats: Steaks, Chops, Chicken, and Turkey 6-9 months
Fruits and Vegetables 8-12 months
Yeast Bread 6-12 months
Muffins/Rolls 2-4 months
Cakes/Cookies 4-6 months
Cheese 4-6 months
So feel free to pre-chop vegetables for some of your favorite recipes. Buy that extra package of chicken when it goes on sale. Make an extra loaf of bread when you’re in the mood to bake. Use that freezer for something more than ice cubes and popsicles!