Freezer Guidelines

Dear Home Ec 101,

How long does food keep in the freezer, after the expiration date? When should it be tossed in the garbage?

Thank you,
Chillier in Chicago
Heather says:

Thank you for your cool question in these dog days of summer. It’s so hot that. . . no, I won’t go there. Your question has many different answers based on several variables: the type of freezer, how it is packaged, and the type of food.  Standalone freezers whether chest or upright will keep foods much colder and therefore fresher than the freezer in your combination fridge / freezer.

Air is the enemy of frozen food.  The conditions in your freezer are quite dry.  If food is exposed to the air the moisture will evaporate destroying your food’s quality.  To get the longest shelf life possible, it is important to remove as much air as possible before storing.  Both vacuum sealers and heavy duty freezer paper are great options. Finally some foods are more delicate than others and their quality will continue to degrade even in the freezer.  Check out What’s Cooking America for a great chart explaining the refrigerator and freezer shelf life for many foods.

Finally, remember that freezer burn isn’t dangerous, it’s just not pleasant.

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.



2 Comments

  1. Hendrik on October 17, 2008 at 2:27 am

    This is great suggestion that Check out What’s Cooking America for a great chart explaining the refrigerator and freezer shelf life for many foods but can you have any othe option.. i want to know much more…

  2. Jenn on August 7, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    So if I have a whole, vacuum-sealed frozen duck in my deep freeze that is past it’s use by date but has remained frozen solid the whole time, it may not be bad to eat (as in won’t make you sick) but it may not be good (as in tasty)?

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