Managing your Freezer
Freezer management is all about forward planning ensuring you have a wide selection and variety of foods available no matter what the meal occasion. Fortunately today there is a large selection of products available. Always check the label for best advice as most store bought freezer products can be cooked straight from frozen. Foods that can be cooked from frozen include:
- Pizzas, pasta, pastries and pies.
- Soups, stews and casseroles.
- Some frozen fish
Correct Storage Freezer Temperature:
Freezers should always be kept at -18°C or less. All freezers should have a star rating so consult your manufacturer’s handbook:
- * Runs at –6°C and should only store food for up to one week
- ** Runs at –12°C and should only store food for up to one month
- *** Runs at –18°C and should only store food for up to 3 months
- **** Runs at –18°C and is suitable for long term storage
- If products are frozen raw in the home, then thawed and cooked, the product can be re-frozen.
- If products are bought frozen, then thawed and cooked, the product can be re-frozen.
- Partially thawed food may be safely refrozen, if it still contains ice crystals or is –5°C or lower.
Defrosted food should not be refrozen unless first cooked to over 70° for at least 2 minutes or 75°C instantaneously to ensure proper cook through.
How to Flash Freeze:
Flash freezing allows you to freeze items at the peak of freshness and later scoop out individual or family-size portions, so you don’t have to defrost a whole bag:
Step 1: Dice meat, vegetables or fruit. Group into portion sizes.
Step 2: Place the portions on a flat baking tray lined with waxed paper.
Step 3: Place the sheet in the freezer for one to two hours.
Step 4: Once the food is frozen, transfer to freezer bags taking out all the air and return to the freezer.
How to Best Use your Freezer:
Cool foods before you freeze them.
Mark the date. Because frozen food is often unrecognizable, labelling and dating containers and bags with a black permanent marker will make for easy identification.
Use bags to save space. Almost any frozen food - meat, fruit, vegetables, soups, sauces - can be stored in a freezer bag. Lay partially filled bags flat in the freezer (leave ¼ to ½ inch of space since frozen food expands). Once they’re frozen stack them upright in rows, like books on a shelf, which saves room.
Organize for easy access. Put items you use frequently on their own shelves. If you have a tendency to pick up fast food on days you don’t feel like cooking, designate a shelf to stash ready-to-eat meals.
Do not overload the freezer with unfrozen food as it slows down the freezing rate, and may affect the quality. Add only the amount that will freeze within 24 hours. This is usually 2 or 3 pounds of food per cubic foot of storage space.
Rotate regularly. Use the “first in, first out” rule when you replenish your freezer. Store newer purchases behind older ones, so whatever you buy first, you use first.
Conserve energy. Freezers run more efficiently when full. Plus, if the power goes out, your food will stay frozen longer.
Avoid temperature fluctuations to minimize freezer burn. Make sure the door is kept closed and freezer is well loaded to ensure products are wrapped well, in air tight packaging.
Defrosting my Freezer
Once you have defrosted your freezer and switched back on the power, you can store frozen foods straight away. It is only in the case of new freezers that you must wait a number of hours before storing frozen foods - consult your manufacturer’s handbook for guidance.
Power Cuts & Frozen Foods?
If there is a power cut or the freezer door has been left open by mistake, the food may still be safe to eat.
- As long as a freezer with its door ajar is continuing to cool, the food should stay safe overnight.
- A freezer full of food will usually keep for about 2 days if the door is shut.
- A half-full freezer will last about 1 day if the door is shut.
To determine the safety of food when the power is restored, check their condition and temperature. If food is partly frozen and still has ice crystals then it is safe to refreeze or use. Discard food that has been warmer than 5°C for more then 2 hours. Please do not taste to determine it viability as it may be unsafe.