|by Ada Shinabarger & Lydia C. Medeiros
Freezing is the best way to preserve the fresh-like qualities of food.
Cold Facts To Keep In Mind
Freezing maintains quality, but it cannot improve it. Frozen food processors flash-freeze food; retailers keep it at 0 degrees F or below to maintain quality. After you make a selection, proper handling is your responsibility. Food properly wrapped and stored at 0 degrees F or below will be more than just safe to eat. It will have good flavor and texture, and contain all or nearly all the nutrients it had when fresh.
Freezer Storage - The Colder, The Better
Frozen foods require low storage temperatures because they will lose quality at high temperatures. Foods held at 15 degrees F may feel very hard, but are less solidly frozen than foods at 0 degrees F. Held for the same length of time, the 0 degrees F food will be superior in color, flavor, texture and sometimes in nutritive value.
Use only moisture vapor-proof materials (aluminum foil, polyethylene bags, freezer film wraps, plastic and metal containers). The shrink- film wrap on meats "breathes" and is not suitable for freezer storage beyond two weeks. Overwrap these packages with a moisture vapor-proof material to prevent freezer burn.
Frozen Food Know-How
Thawing-Thaw frozen fish, poultry or meat in the refrigerator. The surface will not reach dangerously high bacteria levels before the product thaws in the center. Slower thawing also causes less moisture loss (drip). Meat, fish and poultry can be cooked without thawing; allow about one-third to one-half more cooking time.
Refreezing-Most partially-thawed foods refreeze safely if they still contain ice crystals and are firm in the center. However, many foods (partially-thawed ice cream) will not be top quality. Don't refreeze completely thawed meat or poultry pies or casseroles, cream pies or vegetables. Food completely thawed (intentionally or by accident) and warmed to room temperature (72 degrees F), should be thoroughly cooked immediately or discarded. Fruit and juice concentrates are exceptions; they ferment when spoiled. Toss them if flavor is "off".
Download a printable Freezer Storage Chart
Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet - HYG-5402-94
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