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Food Freezing Do's and Don'ts

Updated on February 11, 2014

Freezing food can be a huge money saving strategy, but only if done properly and safely. The two most common misconceptions with freezing food is:

1) Anything can be frozen

2) Food can be frozen indefinitely and still be good/safe to eat

Neither of these are true. Not everything can be frozen, nor can the items that can be frozen, be frozen forever and still be okay to eat. This article lists some simple do's and dont's of freezing food as well as supplying some simple guidelines from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and the National Center for Home Food Preservation.


Freezing Do's and Don'ts

Do pack the foods as tightly as possible, in the container with as little air as possible (see next do).

Do allow additional room between the packed food and the closure to allow for expansion as the food freezes.

Do freeze foods as soon as they are packaged and sealed.

Do freeze foods at 00F or lower.

Do only freeze as much food as will freeze in 24 hours or less. (generally 2-3lb per cubic foot).

Do trim the fat off your meats before freezing as it deteriorates more rapidly.

Do's and Don'ts of freezing

Don’t overpack your freezer. Allow space between packages to allow air to circulate freely.

Don’t unthaw and then refreeze food, especially raw meat.

Don’t freeze spices, it can change the color and flavor of the spice (most generally become bitter).

Don’t freeze damaged or overripe foods.

Don’t freeze raw and cooked foods together (in same container).

Don’t freeze food that specifically states they should not be frozen.

Don’t freeze food indefinitely.

Foods That Do Not Freeze Well

Usual Use
Condition After Thawing 
Cabbage, celery, cress, cucumbers, endive, lettuce, parsley, radishes 
As raw salad
Limp, water-logged, develops oxidized color, aroma and flavor 
Irish potatoes, baked or boiled 
In soups, salads, sauces or with butter 
Soft, crumbly, water-logged, mealy 
Cooked macaroni, spaghetti or rice 
When frozen alone for later use 
Mushy, tasted warmed over 
Egg whites, cooked
In salads, creamed foods, sandwiches, sauces, gravy or desserts
Soft, tough, rubbery, spongy
In desserts
Soft, tough, rubbery, spongy
Icings made from egg whites
Cakes, cookies
Frothy, weeps
Cream or custard fillings
Pies, baked goods
Separates, watery, lumpy
Milk sauces
For casseroles or gravies
May curdle or separate
Sour Cream
As topping, in salads
Separates, watery
Cheese or crumb toppings
On casseroles
Mayonnaise or salad dressing
On sandwiches (not in salads)
In salads or desserts
Fruit Jelly
May soak bread
Fried Foods
All except French fried potatoes and onion rings
Lose crispness, become soggy
Table extracted from "So Easy to Preserve", 5th ed. 2006. Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens. Revised by Elizabeth L. Andress. Ph.D. and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D, Extension Food Specialists

Freezer Storage Chart (0 F)

 Bacon and Sausage
 1 to 2
2 to 3 
Egg whites or egg substitutes 
Frozen Dinners and Entrees
3 to 4
Gravy (meat or poultry)
2 to 3
Ham, Hotdogs, and Lunchmeats
1 to 2
Meat, uncooked roasts
4 to 12
Meat, uncooked steaks or chops
4 to 12
Meat, uncooked ground
3 to 4
Meat, cooked
2 to 3
Poultry, uncooked whole
Poultry, uncooked parts
Poultry, uncooked giblets
3 to 4
Poultry, cooked
Soups and Stews
2 to 3
Wild game, uncooked
8 to 12
Table courtesy of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service


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    • Novel Treasure profile image

      Novel Treasure 4 years ago from US

      Thank you! I'm glad you found it helpful.

    • SunsetSky profile image

      SunsetSky 4 years ago from USA

      What a great hub! I like that you included a chart showing how long to keep certain frozen foods. I have been keeping some foods too long. Voted up.

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