Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

April 12, 2005
Fruit, vegetables, meats all have different ‘freezer life’

Most of us have a refrigerator to keep foods fresh until we are ready to use them. Many carry the process a step further and own a chest or upright freezer.

These are wonderful conveniences. By using a freezer, people can purchase foods when they are on sale and store them for long periods. They are especially useful to those who raise gardens and fruit trees. Food can be prepared for freezer storage much more easily and quickly than for canning. It is also a safe way to store foods — particularly when the foods are prepared using a creative rather than a strictly scientific recipe. For example, many people have a favorite salsa recipe that they like to make in the fall. If it is not a tested recipe, do not preserve it using a cold pack canner. It can be preserved by pressure cooking methods, but freezing is quicker and easier.

Using a freezer, many perishable foods retain flavor, texture and nearly all their nutrients for months. Improperly stored, frozen foods may lose quality rapidly. There are several variables that contribute to high frozen food quality.

Keep cold

At freezing temperatures, food quality still deteriorates. The lower the temperature, the more slowly that occurs. At 15 degrees, food is frozen hard, but it is not as solid as that frozen at 0 degrees. Over a period of time, food frozen at the lower temperature will maintain better color, texture, flavor and sometimes nutritive value. Freezing compartments of refrigerators may not be cold enough to hold food for long periods of time. Check the temperature with a freezer thermometer.

It should maintain a temperature below 5 degrees for long-term frozen storage.

Packaging should be air tight

Use only moisture and vapor resistant materials such as aluminum foil, polyethylene bags, freezer film wraps, and plastic and metal containers. Shrink film wrap used on meats at grocery stores is not heavy enough for freezer storage beyond two weeks. Rewrap or overwrap such packages with a moisture and vapor resistant material to prevent freezer burn.

Thaw foods properly to discourage bacterial growth

Meat, fish and poultry are especially susceptible to bacteria. Thaw these foods in the refrigerator so that they remain at a safe temperature throughout. Thawed at room temperatures, the center may remain frozen while the outside of the product reaches temperatures high enough to encourage microbe growth.

Slower thawing also reduces moisture loss. Use a microwave for rapid thawing. Meat, fish, and poultry can be cooked without thawing B allow one third to half more cooking time.

Foods that are partially thawed but still contain ice crystals can be refrozen. Their quality will be reduced, however. Immediately use perishable foods that have been completely defrosted. A fully stocked freezer is more economical to run than a partially full one. Turn over the stock once every six months to reduce the operating cost per pound of food.

Pick up commercially frozen foods just before going to the checkout counter and put them in your home freezer as quickly as possible.

Home-prepared foods can be successfully frozen. Add flavorings to casseroles and other foods just before using when possible. Freezing increases the flavor of black pepper, cloves, onion, and garlic, while other seasonings weaken in flavor.

Stews keep better than fried or broiled meat. Some foods, like mayonnaise, don’t freeze satisfactorily.

If you choose to make sandwiches in advance, add mayonnaise when you remove them from the freezer.

The optimum times for frozen storage vary according to the product. Use as guidelines the following maximum recommended storage times.

Vegetables Herbs – 6 months

Most vegetables – 12 months

Raw Mushrooms – 1 month

Cooked Mushrooms -3 months

Fruit

Fruit pies – 6 months

Purees – 12 months

Soft fruit – 12 months

Unstoned fruit – 3 months

Stoned fruit – 12 months

Poultry and Game

Giblets – 2 months

Ducks and game – 6 months

Chicken and fowls – 12 months

Uncooked meat

Lamb – 6 months

Pork – 6 months

Beef – 8 months

Sausages – 6 months

Smoked Bacon joints – 8 weeks

Bacon and chops: smoked or unsmoked, vacuum packed – 6 months

Fish

White fish – 3 months

Oily fish – 2 months

Dairy Products Eggs – 6 months.

Unsalted butter – 6 months

Salted butter – 3 months

Cream – 3 months

Cream cheese – 6 weeks

Hard cheese – 3 months

Bakery Goods

White and brown bread – 6 months

Bread and Rolls – 1 week

Sandwiches, scones – 2 to 6 months

Sponge cakes – 4 months

Baked pastry – 6 months

Unbaked pastry – 3 months

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