In the Freezer

In freezer storage, the colder, the better. Freezing extends the shelf life of all kinds of foods.

  • Keep your freezer "iceberg" cold! For long-term storage, maintain a freezer temperature of 0° F or less. A freestanding freezer can stay that cold. However, the freezer compartment of most refrigerators usually won't; plan to use foods stored there more quickly. To check the temperature, install a freezer thermometer, available at many kitchen stores or supermarkets.
  • Store foods purchased frozen in their original packaging. Commercial packaging usually is airtight.
  • Freezing home-prepared foods? Properly package them. Use freezer containers, foils, and moistureproof paper, plastic bags, or other wraps. Traditional plastic wraps aren't suitable. Use freezer tape to help keep the package airtight and free of freezer burn. For storage that's longer than a few days, fresh meat retains its quality best when it's rewrapped or overwrapped.
  • Before freezing, label each package with the food, date, and the amount.
  • Organize your freezer. Rotate foods, keeping the oldest foods in front so they're used first. Stack similar foods together—they'll be easier to find.
  • Remember that some foods don't freeze well: bananas, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, celery, gelatin salads, custard, mayonnaise, hard-cooked eggs, sour cream, cream (unless it's whipped), raw potatoes, unblanched vegetables, and foods made with these ingredients. Freezing affects their quality, not the safety.
  • Blanch vegetables to lengthen their freezer life: immerse foods in boiling water for one to three minutes, then plunge them in cold water to stop the cooking. Freeze in airtight plastic bags after draining well.
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