Tricks On How Long You Can Freeze Food Before It Goes Bad

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How many times have you tossed food in the freezer and then completely forgotten about it? Once you check your freezer though and see that a packet of meat has been lying around for months, you instantly throw it in the garbage, taking it for granted that it’s definitely gone bad and is no longer safe for consumption. But is that really the case? Is there a shelf life for frozen foods? If so, how long can each type of food be stored in the freezer before it rots? We made an attempt to answer these pressing questions!

The Shelf Life Of Frozen Foods

 

The Shelf Life Of Frozen Foods

Care to venture a guess as to how long frozen foods can be considered safe for eating? If your answer is in the vicinity of 1 to 6 months, you are wrong. The correct answer is that they can last indefinitely. Probably even forever, irrespective of what the date on the packaging says.

How’s that even possible, right?

Well, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) explains that as long as you freeze your food in a condition where it is already safe to eat, it will continue being safe for consumption irrespective of how long it has been frozen (1). Try to freeze food that’s already turning bad and it’ll likely continue rotting and won’t be worth eating once you take it out.

As for how long how you should freeze each type of food, the USDA has an explanation for that too. Experts at USDA say that since freezing can keep your food safe for an indefinite period of time, the time recommended for storing each type is for the purpose of quality. This means that suppose you store a tin of cheese for 6 months and plan to eat it after, it won’t be unsafe but it’ll definitely lose its taste.

That said, as long you are storing your food at a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit, you can be sure it’ll be safe. Just don’t expect it to taste as good as it did when it was fresh.

However, we recommend that you still follow the freezing charts that recommend the time limit for each frozen food as the quality of the food is really important. But if you are worried about safety, don’t be. Take a banana, for example. You can safely freeze this fruit until the end of time. However, it’ll only taste like a fresh one as long as it is able to retain its whitish color and creamy texture, which it will be able to for about 3 months.

Why Freezing Food Is Considered To Be Safe

 

Why Freezing Food Is Considered To Be Safe

 

According to the USDA, freezing food is safe because the cold temperature helps in reducing molecule movement in foods, which, in turn, leads to the microbes in foods becoming dormant (2). This means that when you freeze food, you actually prevent microorganisms, which are responsible for spoiling food and causing foodborne diseases, from growing in it.

Moreover, freezing also renders yeast, bacteria, and molds inactivate, further preventing rotting. However, thaw your food and these microorganisms will reactivate, which can cause food spoilage. All in all, freezing food is completely safe.

Freezing Guidelines For Different Types Of Food

Freezing Guidelines For Different Types Of Food

 

If you want to know how long you should store each type of food to preserve its quality and taste, here’s a chart that mentions the same. Check it out below:
Food Item Months

Food Item Months
Baked bread and rolls 2 to 3
Unbaked bread and rolls 1
Cookies 6 to 8
Cookie dough 3
Unfrosted cake 2 to 3
Frosted cake 1
Fruit pies (baked) 6 to 8
Fruit pies (unbaked) 2 to 4
Muffins 6 to 12
Pancakes 3
Waffles 1
Lamb meat 9
Pork roast 4 to 12
Turkey and chicken (whole) 12
Beef or chicken 3 to 4
Liver, heart, kidneys, tongue 3 to 4
Cooked ham 2
Bacon 1
Sausage 1 to 2
Cooked meat 2 to 3
Fried chicken 4
Cooked poultry items 4 to 6
Chicken nuggets 1 to 3
Lean fish 6
Fatty fish 2 to 3
Cooked fish 4 to 6
Shellfish 2 to 3
Crab 10
Smoked fish 2
Lobster 12%
Shrimp 3 to 6
Butter 6 to 9
Cottage cheese 1
Soft cheese 6
Hard cheese 6
Yogurt 1 to 2
Ice cream 2
Raw eggs 1
Citrus fruits 3
Other fruits 9 to 12
Vegetables 8 to 12
Nuts 3
Stew (meat) 3 to 4
Broth (meat) 2 to 3
Soup and stew (veg) 2 to 3
Milk 3 to 6
Packaged juice 12%
Homemade juice 6
Cooked rice 3
Cooked pasta 3
Pizza 1 to 2
Herbs and spices 12

Please note: Don’t put liquids in the freezer as they tend to expand when frozen.

Although these are the recommended freezing time periods, if you are unsure, check the concerned food item for any kind of peculiar odors. If it smells odd, throw it. Also, discard the food item if it looks moldy. Otherwise, happy eating frozen foods!

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