More General Freezer Questions and Answers Below

  • Keep the door shut! It sounds obvious, but time is critical for excluding warmth and moisture from the inside. Some models have an alarm light which comes on when the freezer door is not properly shut. Ideally, the alarm should be easy to access - some alarms are poorly positioned beneath the freezer door so as to not be visible from a normal standing position.
  • If your freezer is nearly empty, put in some plastic bottles, three-quarters filled with water. This will reduce temperature variation within the compartment, and prevent the temperature from dropping sharply when the door is opened.
  • The coldest part of a chest freezer tends to be on the compressor step; the coldest part of an upright tends to be the top shelf. Keep long-term storage items here.
  • Many people set their freezer thermostat so that ice cream will be scoop able. But scoop able ice-cream is about -14C. That's too warm for long-term frozen food, which should be stored at around -18C. Its best to keep your freezer properly cold and store ice cream in the warmest part: the bottom of an upright and the top of a chest.
  • Moisture-proof packaging such as plastic containers, thick plastic bags and aluminum foil will preserve food quality by preventing dehydration and oxidation.
  • Some freezers have a "fast-freeze" function, to ensure the rapid freezing of freshly loaded food. Remember to turn it off after a few hours, or running costs will be higher and constant noise could be a problem.
  • How much freezer space will you need?
    One cubic foot of freezer space will hold approximately 30 lbs. to 32 lbs. of beef.


More freezer tips covering freezer burn, how to freeze meat, wrapping, etc.

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General Freezer Questions and Answers

Can frozen food be stored in refrigerator-freezer combinations?
Refrigerator-freezer combinations can be used for storing frozen food if the freezer is a true freezer (will maintain 0F or less) and not just a freezing compartment. A better quality product will be maintained at 0F or less. If a freezing compartment is used, store food for only one to two weeks.

At what temperature should the freezer be maintained?

Freeze and store foods at 0F or less.

How long will food remain frozen if the power goes off?

Foods stay frozen longer if the freezer remains unopened, is full, is in a cool place and is well insulated. Usually food in a loaded freezer will stay frozen for two to four days, depending on its size. A half-filled freezer will keep food frozen only about 24 hours. Cover the freezer with blankets, keeping them away from the compressor, to help hold the cold.

Can food be refrozen if it has thawed?

Foods can be refrozen if at least one of these two conditions are met: 1) Foods have only partially thawed and still have ice crystals in the package; 2) The freezer temperature has remained at 40F or below. Before using, check to see that color and odor of the food are good. Quality of the food will be lower.

What is freezer burn?
It is dehydration or drying that occurs on the surface of a frozen product if it is improperly wrapped. The food is safe to eat but poorer quality. To prevent freezer burn, the package must be free of air and sealed airtight.

Does freezing improve the quality of food?
Freezing does not improve the quality of the product. Frozen food is only as good as the quality of the fresh food. So, select only high quality products at optimum maturity and freshness.

Does freezing kill germs?
Freezing does not kill all bacteria, yeasts and molds present in food, but it does prevent their multiplication if the food is held at 0F or less. When thawed, the surviving organisms can multiply again.

How much food can be frozen at one time?
Add only the amount that will freeze within 24 hours, which is usually two or three pounds of food per cubic foot of storage space. Overloading slows down the freezing rate. Also, foods that freeze too slowly may lose quality.

Will food spoil if the freezer temperature is above 0F?
Food may not spoil but the quality (color, flavor, and texture) will decrease. The higher the temperature, the faster quality will diminish.

Will food spoil if it is stays frozen longer than the recommended storage time?
No. The recommended storage time is the time in which food should be used to insure maximum quality. Food stored longer than recommended time is safe but flavor, color and texture will continue to deteriorate.

How can you be sure that your freezer is at 0F or less?
Purchase a freezer thermometer, keep it in the freezer and check the temperature regularly.

Will it pay to buy a freezer?
A freezer is usually more of a convenience than a saving. To make the best use of it, (1) keep the freezer full, (2) use and replace the food, do not just store it, and (3) use older food first.

Is a chest or upright freezer best?
This depends on personal preference as well as available floor space. Generally speaking, the upright freezer is easier to organize and takes up less floor space. Chest freezers, however, are usually more economical to operate.


Packaging Materials

What kind of packaging materials should be used for freezing?
Packaging materials must be moisture-vapor resistant; durable and leak proof; not become brittle and crack at low temperatures; resistant to oil, grease or water; protect foods from absorption of off-flavors or odors; easy to seal; and easy to mark. Good freezing materials include rigid containers made of aluminum, glass, plastic, tin or heavily waxed cardboard; bags and sheets of moisture-vapor resistant wraps; and laminated papers made specially for freezing.

Can aluminum foil be used as a freezer wrap?
Heavy duty aluminum foil can be used as a freezer wrap. Because it can be torn or punctured easily it is wise to use an overwrap. Light weight (household) aluminum foil is not satisfactory for home freezing.

Is wax paper a suitable freezer wrap?
No. Wax paper is not moisture-vapor resistant.

Can bread wrappers be used for freezing?
No. Bread wrappers are not sufficiently moisture-vapor resistant to be used for freezing. A freezer-weight polyethylene bag should be used.

Can zip-type bags be used for freezing?
Yes, if they have been designed for and their box marked for freezer use.

Can milk or cottage cheese cartons be used for freezing foods?
Cardboard cartons for cottage cheese, ice cream or milk are not sufficiently moisture-vapor resistant to be suitable for long term freezer storage.

Can glass jars be used for freezing?
Regular glass jars break easily at freezer temperatures. If using glass jars, choose wide-mouth dual purpose jars made for freezing and canning; these jars have been tempered to withstand extremes in temperatures. If standard canning jars (those with narrow mouths) are used, leave extra headspace in liquid packs (3/4-inch for pints; 11/2-inches for quarts) to allow for expansion of food during freezing and completely thaw food before removing it. Do not use regular canning jars for foods packed in water.

Last Updated:  Monday, February 06, 2012 08:59 PM

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