How long will frozen food keep?
What can I freeze?
This depends upon the type of food and the storage
temperature. Most foods obey the rule 'the colder the better'. Properly
frozen food stored in a deep freeze (not a "frost-free" freezer) will retain optimum eating
quality for at least 6 months ands in many cases, 1 year. frost-free freezers
cycle the temperature above freezing to melt ice accumulations and may cause
foods to lose some of their eating quality in a few weeks or months,
depending on the temperature.
You can freeze almost any food. Some exceptions are canned
food or eggs in shells. However, once the food (such as a ham) is out of the
can, you may freeze it. Being able to freeze food and being pleased with the
quality after defrosting are two different things. Some foods simply don’t
freeze well. Examples are mayonnaise, cream sauce and lettuce. Raw meat and
poultry maintain their quality longer than their cooked counterparts because
moisture is lost during cooking.
How does freezing preserve food?
Does that mean that frozen food stored for longer is not safe?
When frozen, many microbial
actions in food, which lead to it spoiling are prevented or slowed down
considerably. For example, bacteria cannot grow in the cold of the freezer.
When food is frozen much of the water is 'locked up' as ice which means that
many other chemical changes in food are also slowed down.
No. Bacteria, some of which
cause food poisoning, cannot grow at freezer temperatures so the storage
life reflects the length of time the product is likely to remain quality of
taste and texture. Eventually, even well frozen food will deteriorate and
become unpalatable whilst still remaining safe to eat.
What is Freezer Burn?
Freezer burn does not make food unsafe, merely dry in spots.
It appears as grayish-brown leathery spots and is caused by air reaching the
surface of the food. Cut freezer-burned portions away either before or after
cooking the food. Heavily freezer-burned foods may have to be discarded for
What is blanching?
Heating or scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam
for a short period of time.
Is it recommended to blanch vegetable before freezing?
YES. Blanching slows or stops the action of enzymes which
cause loss of flavor, color and texture. Blanching cleanses the surface of dirt
and organisms, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins. Blanching
also wilts or softens vegetable and makes them easier to pack.
|Preparation and boiling water blanch times for
||Preparation and boiling water blanch times
||Leave whole or cut into 2-inch lengths. Blanch small stalks 2
minutes; medium stalks 3 minutes; large stalks 4 minutes. Cool
promptly and drain.
|Beans (green and yellow podded)
||Snip tips and sort by size. Cut or break into suitable pieces or
freeze small beans whole. Blanch 3 minutes. Cool promptly and drain.
|Beans, fresh lima
||Shell and sort. Blanch small beans 2 minutes; medium beans 3
minutes; large beans 4 minutes. Cool promptly and drain.
||Remove all but 2 inches of top; wash. Cook tender for 25 to 30
minutes for small beets; 45 to 50 minutes for medium beets. Chill.
Remove skins. Slice or dice large beets. Pack.
|Broccoli and cauliflower
||Trim. Separate into individual pieces. Cut broccoli stalks
lengthwise. Soak 1/2 hour in salt brine (4 teaspoons of salt to 1
gallon cold water) to drive out small insects. Rinse and drain.
Blanch 3 minutes in water or steam blanch 5 minutes. Cool promptly
||Trim. Soak 1/2 hour in salt brine (see above). Rinse and drain.
Blanch small heads 3 minutes; medium heads 4 minutes; large heads 5
minutes. Cool promptly and drain.
||Discard coarse outer leaves. Cut into wedges or shred coarsely.
Blanch wedges 3 minutes and shredded cabbage 1 1/2 minutes. Cool
promptly and drain.
||Trim and scrape. Dice or slice 1/4-inch thick. Blanch cut
carrots 3 minutes; whole carrots 5 minutes. Cool promptly and drain.
|Sweet corn, on-the-cob
||Husk, remove silks, and trim ends. Use a large kettle for
blanching. Blanch small ears (1 1/4-inch diameter) 7 minutes; medium
ears (1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inch diameter) 9 minutes; large ears (over 1
1/2-inch diameter) 11 minutes. Chill in ice water for as long as it
takes to blanch or corn may become mushy and develop a cob flavor.
|Sweet corn, cut
||Husk, remove silks, and trim ends. Blanch 4-6 minutes, depending
on size of ear. Chill. Cut from cob.
||Cut off tops and roots. Wash and peel tough bark. Wash and slice
1/4-inch thick, dice in 1/2-inch cubes, or leave whole. Blanch cubes
1 minutes; slices 2 minute; whole 3 minutes. Cool promptly and
||Preparation and boiling water blanch times
||Trim stem ends. Sort by size. Freeze small ones whole; slice
larger ones. To prevent discoloration, use 3 teaspoons lemon juice
or 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid to 1 quart water when blanching.
Blanch whole 4 minutes; sliced, 3 minutes. Cool and drain.
|To steam blanch: Dip for 5 minutes in a solution of 1
teaspoon lemon juice or 1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid to 1 pint water.
Steam whole 5 minutes; buttons or quarters 3 1/2 minutes; sliced 3
|Sauteed: Heat small quantities of mushrooms in butter for
3 minutes. Cool and pack. No blanching is required.
||Cut off stems without opening seed cells. Blanch small pods 3
minutes; large pods 4 minutes. Leave whole or slice crosswise. Cool
promptly and drain.
|Peas (green, English, black-eyed)
||Shell small amount at a time. Blanch green or English for 1 1/2
minutes; black-eyed 2 minutes. Cool promptly and drain.
|Peas (edible pod, sugar, or Chinese)
||Remove stems, blossom ends, and any string. Leave whole. Blanch
small pods 1 1/2 minutes; large pods 2 minutes. Cool promptly and
||Remove stem and seeds. Halve, chop, or cut into 1/2-inch strips
or rings. May be frozen without blanching. For use in cooking,
blanch halves 3 minutes, strips or rings 2 minutes. Cool, drain, and
||Wash and stem. Package leaving no headspace.
||Peel by roasting in oven at 400-450 degrees F for 6-8 minutes or
until skins can be rubbed off. Wash off charred skins, cut out
stems, remove seeds. Package.
||Plain: Wash and peel or scrub. Blanch 3-5 minutes
depending on size. Cool, drain.
|French fried: Use potatoes that have been stored at least
30 days. Wash, peel, and cut into thin strips. Rinse in cold water,
dry thoroughly. Fry in hot fat (360 degrees F) about 5 minutes until
tender, not brown. Drain on paper towels. Cool and package. Finish
browning at serving time in a hot oven (475 degrees F).
||Choose potatoes that have been cured for at least one week. Sort
to size and wash. Cook until almost tender (in water, pressure
cooker, oven). Cool at room temperature, peel and cut in halves,
slice or mash.
|To prevent darkening: Dip whole potato or slices in a
solution of 1/2 cup lemon juice to 1 quart water for 5 seconds.
|For mashed sweet potatoes: Mix 2 Tablespoons orange or
lemon juice with each quart.
|Spinach and other greens
||Remove damaged leaves and tough stems. Blanch collards 3
minutes; other greens 2 minutes. Cool promptly and drain.
|Summer squash, zucchini
||Peel; cut in 1/2-inch slices; blanch 3 minutes. Steam shredded
zucchini 1-2 minutes or until translucent. Cool promptly and drain.
||Raw: Wash and dip in boiling water for 30 seconds to
loosen skins. Core and peel. Freeze whole or in pieces. Use for
cooking or seasoning only.
|Juice: Wash, sort, and trim. Cut in quarters or eighths.
Simmer 5-10 minutes. Press through sieve. If desired, add 1 teaspoon
salt per quart. Pour into containers, leaving headspace.
|Stewed: Prepare as in juice. Cover and cook until tender,
10-20 minutes. Cool and pack leaving headspace.
Why is it necessary to cool vegetables after blanching?
Vegetables should be cooled quickly and thoroughly after
blanching to stop the cooking process. Otherwise, vegetables will be overcooked
with loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals.
Can I freeze mixed veggies? We love them and I'd rather
put them together before hand than open three or four bags and mix them?
Certainly! Just blanch them (each according to it’s own
method and blanching time), cool, drain, THEN combine them in your freezer
bags and freeze.
I have so much potatoes. Is there a way to freeze potatoes
for French fries or diced and scalloped( semi-cooked)? What is the best way to
tried it, but according to the USDA, there is:
Select smooth new potatoes directly from the
Peel or scrape and wash.
Water blanch for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the
- Cool, drain and package whole or sectioned, leaving 1/2-inch
- Seal and freeze.
Can I Refreeze foods?
Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe
to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of
quality due to the moisture lost through defrosting. After cooking raw foods
which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. If
previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the
If you purchase previously frozen meat, poultry or fish at a retail store,
you can refreeze if it has been handled properly.
Can you freeze tomatoes from your garden! Certainly! They will be great
for a winter meal that uses cooked tomatoes, like spaghetti sauce. Tomato sauces
and salsa freeze well and are convenient to have on hand for later cooking.
Frozen tomatoes, however, won't substitute for fresh later. Whole Tomatoes tend
to crack and collapse when they thaw, and then become soft, mushy and watery.
Not what you want on your salad (although the flavor is still great). To
freeze fresh raw tomatoes, try the following methods:
Short term freezer storage (0 to 3 months):
- Wash tomatoes
- Slice tomatoes into at least one-half inch slices. Package in a
rigid airtight container and fast freeze.
- Or put slices on a cookie sheet and freeze for two hours, or
until they are crisp on the outside. Then remove and put them into freezer bags
Long term freezer storage (3 months to 12 months):
You really need a vacuum food sealers as they will prevent
freezer burn, and are recommended!
- Blanch tomatoes to for 30 to 60 seconds and then into ice
water to remove skins (the tend to get tougher in storage)
- Put slices on a a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap (cling
film) on a cookie sheet and freeze for two hours, or until they are crisp on the
- Remove and put them into vacuum freezer bags or containers.
- Vacuum and seal them up!
You can use regular freezer bags, like Ziplocs, instead of the
vacuum sealer, but you get much better results with the vacuum sealer.
TIP: If you don't own a vacuum food sealer to freeze foods, place food in a
Ziploc bags, zip the top shut but leave enough space to insert the tip of a soda
straw. When straw is in place, remove air by sucking the air out. To remove
straw, press straw closed where inserted and finish pressing the bag closed as
you remove straw.
be washed before cutting. To wash, wet each tomato with water, rub its surface,
rinse it with running water, and dry it with a paper towel. After washing, cut
away the stem scar and surrounding area and discard it before slicing or
chopping the tomato.
in a sink filled with water is not recommended since contaminated water can be
absorbed through the fruit's stem scar. The use of soap or detergent is neither
recommended nor approved for washing fruits and vegetables because they can
absorb detergent residues.
Can I freeze Melons (Cantaloupe, Crenshaw, Honeydew, or Watermelon)
Yes! Here's how:
Preparation – Select firm-fleshed, well-colored, ripe
melons. Cut in half, remove seeds and rind. Cut melons into slices, cubes or
Syrup Pack – Pack into containers and cover with cold 30
percent sugar syrup. Leave ½ inch headspace. Seal and freeze.
Unsweetened Pack – Pack into containers, leaving headspace.
Seal and freeze.
More on Freezing and safety Does Freezing Destroy Bacteria & Parasites?
Freezing to 0 °F inactivates any microbes -- bacteria, yeasts and molds - -
present in food. Once thawed, however, these microbes can again become active,
multiplying under the right conditions to levels that can lead to foodborne
illness. Since they will then grow at about the same rate as microorganisms on
fresh food, you must handle thawed items as you would any perishable food.
Trichina and other parasites can be destroyed by sub-zero freezing temperatures.
However, very strict government-supervised conditions must be met. It is not
recommended to rely on home freezing to destroy trichina. Thorough cooking will
destroy all parasites.
Freezer Storage Chart (0 °F)
The freezing process itself does not destroy nutrients. In meat and poultry
products, there is little change in nutrient value during freezer storage.
Enzyme activity can lead to the deterioration of food quality. Enzymes present
in animals, vegetables and fruit promote chemical reactions, such as ripening.
Freezing only slows the enzyme activity that takes place in foods. It does not
halt these reactions which continue after harvesting. Enzyme activity does not
harm frozen meats or fish and is neutralized by the acids in frozen fruits. But
most vegetables that freeze well are low acid and require a brief, partial
cooking to prevent deterioration. This is called "blanching." For successful
freezing, blanch or partially cook vegetables in boiling water or in a microwave
oven. Then rapidly chill the vegetables prior to freezing and storage.
Note: Freezer storage is for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe
|Bacon and Sausage
||1 to 2
||2 to 3
|Egg whites or egg substitutes
|Frozen Dinners and Entrees
||3 to 4
|Gravy, meat or poultry
||2 to 3
|Ham, Hotdogs and Lunchmeats
||1 to 2
|Meat, uncooked roasts
||4 to 12
|Meat, uncooked steaks or chops
||4 to 12
|Meat, uncooked ground
||3 to 4
||2 to 3
|Poultry, uncooked whole
|Poultry, uncooked parts
|Poultry, uncooked giblets
||3 to 4
|Soups and Stews
||2 to 3
|Wild game, uncooked
||8 to 12
To prevent freezer burn, don't leave slices very long in the
freezer unwrapped. Frozen sliced tomatoes should be eaten in a near-frozen state
for fresh taste. Cherry tomatoes are good on salads if eaten while partly
What can you do if your freezer
- Keep the doors of the freezer shut and do no open it at all!
- Check that it is switched on at the fusebox.
- Check with friends and neighbors if they can store your frozen
- Call a repairman - if the technician is likely to be
prompt, keep the freezer door closed.
Depending on how full the freezer is, produce can remain frozen for 24 hours or
The more products in the freezer, the longer the contents will remain frozen.
After the repairs have been made
do the following:
If the frozen foods have thawed,
remove them from the freezer and check the temperature close to the surface of
each item. If it is warmer than the temperature of a refrigerator (>40°F or
4°C), discard the products. Check your household insurance policy or any freezer
warranty you have for possible coverage.
Other Questions and Answers
Home Canning Kits
This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer, and the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. You'll never need anything else except jars & lids (and the jars are reusable)! There is also s simple kit with just the canner and rack, and a pressure canner, if your want to do vegetables (other than tomatoes). To see more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!
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