Dear Home-Ec 101,
My youngest decided to get a popsicle from my deep freezer and didn’t bother to make sure the door was closed. I know not to eat the meat products since I am not sure if they thawed and refroze, but what about the veggies? Must I throw out the ten tons of french fries and corn on the cob? (And yes, I’ve invested in a freezer door lock with a padlock to guard against future booboos)
Thawing in Thermopylae
I have good news and bad news, depending on whether or not you’ve already thrown everything out.
All of the food in your freezer is fine to cook or refreeze as long as there were ice crystals still in it. If your meat hasn’t reached more than 40°F it is still safe to cook and eat. Same with your vegetables. If there are still ice crystals it’s perfectly fine to refreeze them as well. What you don’t want to do is reach a point where bacteria can multiply quickly, freeze and not kill off all of those bacteria and then thaw again where the bacteria again have a good chance to multiply.
Just as an FYI, vegetables can also harbor bacteria. However, do not freak out. Contamination is much LESS likely in frozen foods that have to be blanched before freezing. I’m just noting this after someone was rather smug about not being affected by a beef recall.
If your freezer door was left ajar for a few hours and some foods partially thawed, not fully, they are safe to use. I’m actually more concerned about the motor of your freezer. I hope the freezer is the type that shuts off while the door is ajar so there wasn’t a lot of unnecessary wear on the unit. If your deep freeze was left ajar for several days, you are correct, most of the food is a total loss.
- If you have a lot of ground beef to use, simply brown it and store. You can season it if you like, just be sure to label it for its intended future use.
- If you have stew beef, go ahead and brown and stew the beef.
- Toss the poultry into your slow cooker and then separate it from the bones to use in a bunch of different recipes. Don’t forget to use the bones to make chicken stock.
Good luck, I hope this doesn’t prove to be too major of a loss.
Submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.