Freezer Storage: Tips on Freezing Food

Wish to freeze your harvest? Too many leftovers? Any food can be frozen. Here are freezer storage and refreezing tips from The Old Farmer's Almanac.

(Also, be sure to see our "How Long Will It Keep" Freezer Storage Chart. See Related Article to the right.)

The Big Chill: Freezing Foods

  • What can't be frozen? Exceptions are eggs in shells and food in cans. (Once food is out of a can, it may be frozen.)
  • To retain vitamin content, color, flavor, and texture, freeze items at peak freshness, and store at 0°F or lower. Food stored constantly at 0°F will always be safe to thaw and eat; only quality suffers with lengthy freezer storage. (However, freshness and quality at the time of freezing will affect the condition of frozen foods.)
  • Label foods for easy identification. Write the dish name/contents, number of servings (1 quart=4 servings; 1 pint=2 servings), and date on containers or bags.
  • To prevent sticking, spread food to be frozen (berries, hamburgers, cookies, etc.) on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid. Then place in plastic bags and into the freezer.
  • Most cookies freeze well and thaw quickly, a convenience when entertaining. Simply cover a plate of assorted cookies with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and put it in the freezer.
  • Freeze foods as quickly as possible by placing them directly against the side of the freezer.
  • Arrange the contents of the freezer by each food category.
  • If power is interrupted or if the freezer is not operating normally, do not open the freezer door. Food in a loaded freezer will usually stay frozen for 2 days.

Refreezing

  • Once food has thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through defrosting. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. And if previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion.
  • If you purchase previously frozen meat, poultry, or fish at a retail store, you can refreeze if it has been handled properly and kept at 40°F or below at all times.

Unsafe at Any Temperature

Canned food that has frozen accidentally, such as a can left in a car or basement, can present health problems. We recommend that you discard the can to be on the safe side.

Effects of Freezing

If frozen, the quality of some foods will suffer. Here are some examples:

  • Canned ham . . . will become watery and soft
  • Cottage cheese, sour cream, cooked eggs, yogurt, mayonnaise . . . texture will suffer
  • Crumb toppings . . .will become soggy
  • Fried foods . . . may become rancid
  • Home-stuffed whole poultry on carcass . . . may become contaminated due to freezing or thawing
  • Lettuce, cabbage, radishes, green onions, celery . . . will become mushy
  • Milk, cream, custard, and meringue filings . . will separate
  • Sauces heavy in fat . . . may separate or curdle
  • Whipping cream . . . may not whip

Become a Human Vacuum!

Here's how to make your own freezer "vacuum pack." Place food into a plastic bag, insert a straw in the corner of the bag, and seal the bag as far as possible. Suck the air out of the bag with the straw. Then quickly remove the straw and completely seal the bag.

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