frozen food storage tips

Food packaged for storage inside freezer.

Freezing food will keep it from spoiling, but the quality will still deteriorate over time.

Essentially, no food benefits from storage.

Be sure to properly package steak, fish, burgers, and chicken if you plan to marinate and freeze them. Plan to use frozen foods as soon as possible.

Here are some general guidelines for frozen food storage success.

Frozen Food Storage

For best results, package foods for freezing in bags or containers designed for freezers, or wrap food in foil or plastic bags. Don't use cans or glass for frozen food storage.

Freeze only fresh foods, and don't refreeze foods. When preparing foods for the freezer, always make the fitting as airtight as possible around the item you're freezing.

When using freezer bags, push the air out slowly, starting at the bottom of the bag, and pushing your way up to the zipper. Do not freeze meats in their supermarket wraps. These wraps are designed to breathe.

Remember, proper packaging prevents that icky freezer burn. It looks gross, but if you cut away the dry ("burned") areas, it's usually safe to eat.

Get in the habit of writing the date on your bags or containers and always try to use the oldest first. And remember to check your freezer temperature regularly to make sure it's between 0 F and 5 F. Don't rely on the little freezer gauge (1-5).

Get a freezer thermometer instead. 

Freeze-Frame Foods: What's Safe, What's Not

Freezing foods helps keep them fresh, but they still won't last forever. Here are some general guidelines for frozen food storage:

  • Bread:                       2 months
  • Butter:                         9 months
  • French fries:              6 months
  • Fruits:                        4 months
  • Ground beef:               2 months
  • Guacamole:                 3 months
  • Chicken:                      6 months
  • Fish and shellfish:        6 months
  • Ice cream:                    2 months
  • Pancakes and waffles:   2 months
  • Breakfast entrees:         3 months
  • Vegetables:                   8 months

Tips for Safely Defrosting Dinner

  • In the refrigerator: Thaw frozen meat overnight; large cuts may take longer.
  • On the countertop: Place meat in a watertight plastic bag and submerge in a bowl of cold water. Leave just until thawed, changing the water every 30 minutes. Cook or refrigerate promptly.
  • In the microwave: Use the defrost setting, then finish cooking immediately.
  • Place stews and soups, still sealed in a plastic bag, in a bowl or sink filled with hot water for 5- to 10 minutes or until it can be broken into pieces. 

  • Open the bag or container and put the pieces into a saucepan for stovetop heating, or in a microwave-safe bowl.
  • When reheating a frozen item, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to the saucepan to prevent scorching.
  • Cover and heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring frequently. Bring to a boil for one minute to make sure it is thoroughly heated.

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