Has Your Frozen Food Gone Bad?
How Long Will Frozen Food Last in the Refrigerator?
We often believe that if we freeze our food, it will last forever. Freezing food is a great way to avoid waste when you have leftovers from dinner or a surplus of produce. It can also be helpful for those who buy meat in bulk to save grocery trips. While freezing does keep food fresh for quite a while, it is important to record the dates on which you freeze each item. Every type of food has a certain lifespan when frozen. This lifespan is affected by the temperature of your freezer. The following guidelines are for a freezer kept at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius).
Meat and Poultry
Chicken and other meats are so convenient to keep in the freezer. While they cannot last forever in the freezer, they do last quite a while. If you are looking for meat that can be frozen long-term, opt for raw chicken and turkey. If the bird is whole, it can last up to twelve months in the freezer. If the bird has been cut into parts—like wings, thighs, breasts, and legs, for example—then it can be frozen for only nine months. Meets like beef, veal, lamb, and pork have lifespans depending on their cut. Steak will last between six months and one year in the freezer. Roast cuts can be frozen for as long as four months to one year, and chops can be frozen only for four to six months. Meats like chicken and turkey giblets as well as liver can be frozen for only three to four months. You might be tempted to throw items into the freezer in their original packaging. This is okay, but the FDA recommends that you wrap them in airtight foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper. For long term freezing over two months, the FDA recommends you place meat or poultry in a freezer safe plastic bag. This is to avoid air permeation, which could lessen the quality of the meat over time.
Fish and Shellfish
Fish and shellfish are a bit more complicated. They are perishable, and the fresh seafood you freeze at home will not store as well as the pre-frozen seafood bought at the grocery store. If you are looking for a great way to maintain the quality of your fish while freezing it at home, try this method. Cover a cookie sheet with plastic wrap and make sure this sheet has room to lie flat in your freezer. To freeze filets, place them on the cookie sheet with space in between then cover them with plastic wrap. Let them freeze for about two hours, then check to make sure they are firm. Next, you should remove the plastic wrap and place the filets in airtight, freezer- safe plastic bags. Make sure you release as much air as possible. If your fish is fresh and lean, it can last up to three months in the freezer. This technique also works well for shellfish and mollusks. Shrimp lasts up to six months. Squid, scallops, and mussels can last up to three months. However, if you wish to ensure the quality of the shellfish, try to cook it before thirty days.
Fruits and Vegetables
When freezing vegetables like green beans, asparagus, broccoli florets, and carrot sticks, you should blanch before freezing. If you pack these vegetables into a freezer-safe bag, they can last anywhere from eight months to one year. When freezing stone fruits and melons, you should slice before storing. These fruits will last up to six months in the freezer. When freezing berries, remove the stems while leaving the berries whole. These should last up to six months. When freezing bananas for smoothies or desserts, peel them and use before three months have passed.
Text By Thomas Cox and Martha Kendall Custard
- Thomas Cox