A Guide To Storing Frozen Food
Almost every kind of food can be frozen, except for eggs which will crack in extreme temperatures. Freezing food prevents bacteria growth, keeping the food item safe for consumption for a long time. However, if you leave food frozen for too long, there will be a deterioration in the taste, texture and overall quality. So, how long should you store frozen food? This depends on the star ratings of your freezer and the type of food.
Freezer Star Ratings
This rating tells you the temperature of your freezer and provides you with a rough guideline of how long food can be safely stored in it.
- 1 Star: Your freezer temperature is -6°C; food can be stored for 1 week.
- 2 Stars: Your freezer temperature is -12°C; food can be stored for 1 month.
- 3 Stars: Your freezer temperature is -18°C; food can be stored for 3 months.
- 4 Stars: Your freezer temperature is -18°C; food can be stored for 3 months or more.
Ideally, your freezer should be running at a temperature of -18°C.
Food Storage Durations
Most frozen foods have instructions on their packaging that tell you how long you can safely freeze them. However, here are some general guidelines, just in case.
- Frozen Vegetables: 8-12 Months
Their shelf live depends on their best by date, preparation method, and storage method. They last the longest when kept at a constant temperature without continuous refreezing. A loss of color, a shriveled appearance and the presence of many ice crystals are signs that a frozen vegetable is not safe to eat anymore.
- Frozen Fruit: 8 Months
However, they may be stored for even longer if their packaging has not been opened. Like frozen vegetables, their shelf live is dependent on their best by date, preparation method, and storage method. It is best to store them at a constant temperature without refreezing them. If the fruit has a dull color or is coated with many white ice crystals, it has been frozen for too long and will likely taste bland.
For fruits that you plan to use in pie fillings, jams, smoothies, and sauces, they last longer if you stew or purée them before freezing. This technique is also great for fruits that do not freeze well, like strawberries.
Another tip is to make frozen fruit directly into ice cream products or sorbet. This way, you do not have to defrost them.
If you want to serve frozen fruits on their own, doing so just before all the ice on them has melted gives them a firmer texture.
- Ground Beef: 2-3 Months
Flatten the ground beef before you freeze it. This increases the chances of an even freeze and thaw. For best results, freeze it in a sealed zip lock bag with excess air removed. Remember to defrost it in the refrigerator and to cook it as soon as it is done defrosting.
If your frozen ground beef has taken on a grayish color, it is a clear sign that it has gone bad.
- Cooked Meat: 3-6 Months
Just about any kind of meat can be stored in the freezer, so long as you do it properly. The meat should be cooked all the way through and allowed to cool before freezing. It is important that you do not leave the meat to cool for more than 2 hours. To reduce the risk of rancidity during storage, trim excess fat off the meat before you freeze it. The meat should be stored in sealed container to prevent freezer-burn.