What you need to know about freezing food

Many Canadians buy too much food, and end up throwing away spoiled groceries. Instead, why not freeze your food to help it last longer? Here are some simple ways to get started.

What you need to know about freezing food

Organize your frozen food

To make the most efficient use of frozen foods, keep an up-to-date list of your freezer's contents.

  • Place the newest packages near the back or at the bottom of your freezer, moving older ones to the top or front so they're next in line for use.
  • Then colour code the different foods, posting a list of the items (including dates) near the freezer and checking them off as they are used. You'll be surprised how you'll cut the time spent searching for items.

Cooling food quickly

To cool foods quickly before freezing — a casserole, for instance — set the warm pan in ice water for a few minutes (be sure you use freezer-to-oven bakeware that can withstand drastic changes in temperature). Then wrap the food as usual and freeze immediately.

  • Not only does this save time, it reduces energy costs, too; the freezer won't have to work so hard to bring down the temperature of the food.

How long to freeze foods

  • Frozen foods keep best at an average temperature of -17°C (0°F). To test the temperature in a freezer, place a refrigerator thermometer between packages of frozen food and leave for 24 hours. Then measure the temperature. Check again a few hours later.
  • Fluctuations of more than three degrees Celcius (five degrees Fahrenheit) could indicate a problem.

Food storage time (months)

Dairy products:

  • Butter, margarine: 6 to 8
  • Cottage cheese, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs: Do not freeze
  • Hard cheese (Cheddar, Edam, Swiss): 6
  • Soft cheese (Brie, blue, Camembert): 4
  • Milk: 1

Fish:

  • Lean fish fillets and steaks (cod, flounder, halibut, sole): 6
  • Oily fish fillets and steaks (mackerel, salmon): 3

Poultry and meats:

  • Bacon: 1
  • Beef roasts, steaks: 6 to 12
  • Chicken or turkey, whole or pieces: 6to7
  • Cooked meats: 2 to 3
  • Ground beef, veal, and lamb: 3 to 4
  • Ground pork: 1 to 3
  • Lamb, veal roasts: 6 to 9
  • Pork roasts, chops: 3 to 6
  • Sausages: 2

Pies and cakes:

  • Unbaked fruit pie, unfrosted cakes: 6 to 8
  • Baked fruit pie: 2 to 4
  • Frosted cakes: 2 to 4

Fruit (apples, citrus fruit, cranberries, apricots, ripe bananas (skin will darken), berries, cherries, avocados, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums):

  • Commercially frozen: 12
  • Home frozen: 8 to 12

Vegetables (artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, eggplant, peas, peppers, radishes, spinach, Beets, green and red cabbage, carrots, turnips, squash, corn)

  • Commercially frozen: 8
  • Home frozen: 8 to 12
  • Asparagus, Lettuce, tomatoes, celery, cooked vegetables: Do not freeze

Get the most out of your freezer and help your food last longer by following these tips!

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