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Fighting Food Waste with Your Freezer
Freezing is the best method for preserving food and has been a natural, trusted practice for centuries. Freezing can preserve foods at the peak of freshness, from the moment they were harvested or procured.
According to FoodSafety.gov, frozen foods stored continuously at 0°F or below can be kept indefinitely. Food quality can diminish over time, but will still be safe to eat. Refer to the cold food storage chart at FoodSafety.gov for the recommended amount of time to store your frozen food.
Frozen foods stored continuously at 0°F or below can be kept indefinitely
When done properly, freezing will lock in nutrients and freshness so your foods are just as good as the day they went in the freezer. Almost any foods can be frozen, but fruits, vegetables, meat and butter are best.
- Make sure that the temperature in your freezer is 0°F or less.
- Write the date and contents on bag or container being frozen.
- Don't freeze the items in the container in which they were purchased.
- Remove all air from anything being frozen in freezer bags. Air in the package can lead to freezer burn. While freezer burn doesn't make food unsafe, it does decrease the quality and flavor. A vacuum sealer is one of the best ways to prevent freezer burn.
- Try to freeze your items as flat as possible — even items containing liquids, such as stews and soups can be flat frozen.
- Freeze foods in individual portions so they can be defrosted as needed. They'll also defrost quicker.
- Freeze steaks and chicken with marinade to enhance flavor (as long as the marinade doesn't have a lot of sugar, acids or salt which can cause the meat to lose quality).
- Don't ever put hot foods into the freezer, since the heat will raise the temperature in your freezer and could cause other foods to thaw.
- Meat and other items prone to risk of bacteria should be stored near the back of the freezer where the temperature remains more constant, and items such as ice packs should be stored in the door area.
- Don't rinse blueberries before freezing. To prevent blueberries from clumping together when frozen, freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet and then move them to a freezer bag for longer storage after they've frozen.
- Slice whole bread loaves before freezing so you don't have to thaw an entire loaf when you just need a slice or two.
- See Can you FREEZE Eggs? for instructions on how to freeze eggs.