Has Your Food Been Frozen for Too Long?
Freezing food is something that many people do to preserve a meal for future use or to have ample produce and meats available for a restaurant’s service hours. Freezing food definitely has its benefits.
After all, fresh frozen foods are saved without preservatives and the method allows seasonal ingredients to stay on the menu year-round. However, there is always the possibility of too much of a good thing.
If you are a restaurant owner who likes to make use of your freezer, make sure to follow these signs of freezer damage and clear out old goods when they no longer provide the nutrients they need.
You Simply Can’t Identify It
If you are digging in the back of your freezer and find an unlabeled package that you just can’t identify, it’s time to throw it out. The freezer may lengthen the life of foods, but leaving unlabeled food to chance is never a good idea when you are serving food to your guests and family.
Always label your food and mark the date that you put it in your freezer. This will give you a definitive timeline for freshness, as well as grant you insight into what the food should actually look like. If you find that your proteins have lost their color in the freezer, it’s best to let them go and grill up something fresh.
You Find Freezer Burn
Freezing food can keep it edible for a few extra months. However, if you pull out some food and find that it’s covered in frost, the quality of the food is now non-existent. Freezer burn is a sign that the freezer has dried out your food and turned most of its tasty juices into the icicles that have ruined the taste and texture of your frozen good.
If you discover that your food has been freezer burnt, we guarantee that your guests won’t be satisfied if their plate consists of food from this frozen batch.
Your Vegetables Have Lost Their Color
If you cooked a batch of vegetables and froze them for a later cooking session, leaving them in the cold for too long can kill their vibrance. If you see that your vegetables have lost their color, it means you either stored them incorrectly or just for too long.
Fruits and vegetables will last in the freezer for up to four months. Any time beyond that, and you should start clearing out your freezer.
Thawed Out Food Has a Funky Smell
Frozen foods shouldn’t smell “off” once you’ve thawed them out. Before cooking a defrosted good, always give it a good smell test. If something smells funky, don’t move on with the cooking.
How Long Can You Safely Freeze Foods?
So, how long should you be storing your food in the freezer? We’ve already told you the length of time for fruits and vegetables, but what about your other foods?
- Raw meat and poultry: 6-12 months
- Cooked meats (i.e. sausage, pepperoni): 2-4 months
- Stews: 2-4 months
- Bread: 2-4 months
Remember, your freezer is a preserver, not a miracle worker. So always use your best judgment when taking any foods out for prep.
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