Family freezers become a repository for a number of leftover foods, with spare pork chops, loaves of bread and extra portions of Bolognese all commonly found. With so many different foods in a freezer, it can be weeks or even months before you see your food again. With such long times between putting food in a freezer and wanting to eat it, have you ever wondered how long different foods really last, before you have to call it a day and chuck things out?
The question of how long you can keep food in a freezer has both a long and a short answer. At the end of the day, food kept in a freezer will be safe indefinitely to eat. No matter how long your freezer is plugged in and turned on, your food won’t turn bad, expire or give you any health problems.
However, whilst food will last forever in a freezer, they definitely don’t remain tasty forever.
Freezer burn is the bane of any frozen food. It finds its way through food packaging, covering food in a layer of frost and draining it of moisture. If you were to thaw out food affected by freezer burn, it would look desiccated and limp. You could cook it and eat it, but your food would be devoid of texture and flavour.
Even the best packaged food will eventually fall victim to freezer burn. The best way to deter freezer burn is to vacuum seal your food. If you can’t do that, suck or press out as much air in your packaging as possible. Plastic freezer bags are great for this, as it’s much easier to remove air from a bag than a glass or plastic container.
There is a general rule of thumb that frozen food will keep for about three months before starting to succumb to freezer burn.
This time frame works for bread, cooked meat, raw meat and prepared food. Despite this, if you’ve kept something in the freezer for longer than three months and it shows no signs of freezer burn, it should still be good to eat. Some meats, however, such as bacon are best when used within one month of freezing.
There are a number of factors that can shorten or extend the usability of frozen food, including how you packaged the food and how often you use and open your freezer. If your freezer is storing commercial food, it’s always wise to check your frozen produce on a regular basis to avoid freezer burn.