Is it safe to eat?

Freezer storage information.

Have you ever looked through the items in the freezer and wondered, “Is this still okay to eat?” Just how long can you keep foods in the freezer? The answer(s) to these questions depends on the type of food. Most of the time, if the food has been solidly frozen for the entire time it was in the freezer, the main issue is not food safety, but food quality issues.

Although a food is frozen while in the freezer, it can still lose moisture. If you have ever seen a food that was “freezer burnt,” you have noticed that it looks dried out and has a grayish color. The best way to prevent moisture loss is to use moisture proof/vapor proof containers or bags. If you are purchasing containers, bags or wrapping for freezer use, look on the label to make sure it is intended for freezer storage. To remove excess moisture when using freezing bags, after putting the food in the freezer bags, push out as much air as possible and then seal it tightly.

Keep your freezer at zero degree or below. You can purchase an inexpensive appliance thermometer in the kitchen section of discount stores or grocery stores. Put the thermometer in the freezer, close the door and wait for several minutes until the temperature gauge has stopped moving before checking the temperature.

Items that are high in salt and fat such as bacon or ham do not freeze as hard as other foods that have higher water content. Store these types of foods no longer than one to two months. Foods high in salt and fat can become rancid in the freezer even while frozen.

Be sure to label the foods you will be storing in the freezer with the name of the food and the date you are placing it in the freezer. A very useful chart for determining appropriate freezer storage length for various foods is the Food Storage Guide.

Michigan State University Extension says that it is important to thaw foods safely too. Freezing does not eliminate microorganisms from the food, when foods are thawed, bacteria can grow once the food has thawed enough to support growth. It is not safe to thaw foods such as meat, poultry and fish on the counter. Frozen foods can be thawed in the refrigerator, in the microwave oven if you will be cooking the food immediately, under cold running water or as part of the cooking process.

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