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Knowing how to get the best out your freezer helps with meal planning and avoiding food waste.
Freezing is a great way to store food. It will help you save money by planning ahead. And it will help you to cut the amount of food you waste if you get it in the freezer before it goes off.
If food is properly frozen it will stay safe to eat indefinitely, although after a time the taste and texture may suffer.
Whether you have a chest freezer or upright freezer, the principles of good freezing are the same.
Storage times for frozen foods differs depending on the type of food and type of freezer you have. Freezers have a star rating to let you know how long the food can safely be stored. You should check the star rating, as well as the instructions on packaged frozen food. This will allow you to work out how long you can store the packaged frozen food in your freezer. Also, be aware that freezers should ideally run at -18°C.Freezer star ratings * Frozen food compartment Runs at - 6° C and should only store food for up to one week ** Frozen food compartment Runs at -12° C and should only store food for up to one month *** Frozen food compartment Runs at -18° C and should only store food for up to three months **** Freezer Runs at -18° C and is suitable for long-term storage (three months or longer)
Please note freezer storage times are for quality only. Frozen food will remain safe indefinitely if frozen properly.
Recommended freezing time frames (if your freezer runs at -18oC)
Uncooked meat (roasts, steaks, chops etc)
Uncooked mince meat
Cured meats (ham & bacon )
Uncooked poultry (chicken, turkey etc)
Fish-raw & cooked
Frozen dinners ( e.g. lasagne, pizza, shepherd’s pie)
Soups, stews and casseroles
Up to 1 month
Up to 3 months
Up to 4 months
Up to 12 months
Up to 6 months
Eggs – either separate the yolk and white, or beat the eggs before freezing
Up to 6 months
Cakes and baked goods without icing
Up to 3 months
Some foods simply are not freezer friendly.
Foods with a crumb base
These can go soggy when defrosted and reheated
Vegetables and fruits with a high water content, like lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts, radishes and watermelons
These go limp and mushy
Soft herbs, like parsley, basil and chives
These will go brown
Egg-based sauces, such as mayonnaise
They will separate and curdle
Milk based sauces
They will separate
Plain yogurt, low-fat cream cheese, single cream and cottage cheese
These will go watery
Raw eggs in their shells
These will expand and crack
These go rubbery
Freezing food when hot will raise the temperature of the freezer and could cause other foods to start defrosting. Dividing the food into smaller parts can speed up the cooling process.
If you do not seal your food it can get “freezer-burn”. This means that water escapes from the food and moves to the coldest part of the freezer – leaving your food dehydrated. While this affects the quality of the food, it will still be safe to eat.
You don't want to have to defrost a stew big enough to feed eight when you're only feeding a family of three.
If you don’t label foods or ingredients clearly, you might not remember what they are, let alone when you froze them. Buy a blue marker for raw foods and a red marker for cooked foods. Always add the date it was frozen.
Do not freeze any foods after their "use-by-date", because they will not be safe to eat.
An icy freezer is an inefficient one, so make sure you defrost your freezer if ice builds up. Don't worry about the food; most things will remain frozen in the fridge for a couple of hours while the freezer defrosts.
Freezing does not kill bacteria. If you are not sure how long something has been frozen or are a bit wary of something once defrosted, don't take any chances.
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