How to store food in the freezer
Listed Under: Blog
Storing food in a freezer correctly can preserve it for months longer than the expiry date. For restaurateurs, this means a reduction in costs and waste as the proportion of food disposed of for spoilage is minimised. Freezers also preserve the quality of food, with proper defrosting allowing the full taste and texture of the product to remain unchanged.
However, storing food in the freezer is not entirely without risk. Whether you work with a catering freezer, a commercial freezer or even a deep freeze unit, you must ensure you are safely working to prevent foodborne illnesses. As a restaurant, it is critical to be aware of how long food can be stored in a freezer, what types of containers you should use, and what order it needs to be stored in. So, if you want to educate yourself on the best freezing practices for your food order, keep reading for Fridgesmart’s industry advice.
Which foods can be frozen?
With eggs, it is important to note that you cannot store an egg with its shell. You can crack the egg and separate the yolk and white into separate bags, or crack the egg into a tub and whisk it before freezing. As well as eggs, the following foods are also suitable for freezing:
- Bananas (peel them first)
- Cheese (except for soft cheeses)
- Cooked pasta
- Meat (both raw and cooked)
What packaging should I use?
The packaging which you use to freeze your food will depend entirely on the food item being discussed. The container should be a similar size to the item, e.g. a large plastic tub should not be used to store a small slice of butter. Instead, find a container or package which will tightly wrap your food. As a restaurateur, using suitably shaped containers is also key to ensuring you can manage your freezer space effectively. Purchasing airtight glass containers and packaging can prevent your food from freezer burn and also allow you to see in through the glass. This can make it easy to check what is inside each container rather than having to check each product individually. The containers you use must also be easy to clean and not affect the food taste.
What is freezer burn?
If food is not properly wrapped, freezer burn will occur as water escapes the product. Specifically, a loosely or incorrectly wrapped food item will result in ice crystals evaporating from the surface of the food or by moisture being lost. The water molecules in the food will escape, causing the food to become dry. As this occurs, oxygen or air will enter the package and cause the food to deteriorate further. Although this will not cause foodborne illnesses, it will cause the food to become dryer and therefore less appealing. For your catering facility, this can mean affected areas of produce must be cut or thrown away. This makes freezer burn an important process to prevent, by carefully wrapping products tightly before placing them inside a freezer.
What order does food go in the freezer?
Meat, poultry and fish should be stored at the bottom of the freezer. They should be kept in containers and not on the same shelf as any other non-meat items. Fruit and vegetables can be placed higher in the freezer, in sealed containers to prevent any leakages. Dairy products such as milk and yoghurt can go above this, making sure the milk is not full to the brim to avoid the lid bursting. Lastly, bread pastry and chips can be stored at the top.
How long can you typically store food in the freezer?
Food can last indefinitely when stored in the freezer since the frozen state keeps it from expiring. However, certain foods will start to lose their quality after three months from freezer burn, making this the guideline for ground raw meats, bread and pre prepared food. If in doubt go by the rule that food should be stored in the freezer for no longer than three months, if you wish to maintain the highest quality of produce for customers.
How long can you keep meat in the freezer?
Meat should be eaten within 3 to 6 months of being in the freezer, although this varies depending on the type of product. To last for 3 to 6 months, meat must be properly wrapped in the freezer to ensure it does not contaminate any other food. This will also prevent freezer burn and keep the meat safe to eat. Using freezing paper to fold over the meat and trap out any air is an ideal way to freeze it. As a restauranteur, investing in freezing paper and tape can save money in the long run by reducing used freezer space and minimising the need for glass containers. When placing meat in the freezer, try to portion it out for each customer meal to speed up the process of defrosting.
Meat in a freezer should be eaten within 24 hours of defrosting. The meat must be properly defrosted before cooking, otherwise, there is a risk of illness. You cannot simply place the meat on the side and let it defrost, as a significant amount of liquid will come out. If you do, the bacteria will widely spread through the kitchen and the rest of your stock will become unusable. To defrost meat, it must, therefore, be placed in a large bowl.
Meat can be defrosted in the microwave if you do not have time for it to thaw and need to cook it sooner. Be aware that this method can still be time-consuming, especially for a large commercial kitchen wishing to defrost a lunch-time sitting’s worth of meat. If you have more time, frozen meat can be placed in the fridge to thaw over a longer 12-24 hour period.
Defrosted meat in the fridge must be cooked within 24 hours, otherwise, it needs to be deposed of since it cannot be refrozen whilst it is raw. If you wish to freeze your meat again, you must cook it once it has defrosted, at which point you are permitted to freeze it again. Note here - cooked meat and fish can only be refrozen once.
How long can you keep chicken in the freezer
A whole chicken can be stored in a freezer for up to one year before it needs to be cooked or it will start to lose its quality. In comparison, chicken pieces can be stored for 9 months in a freezer.
How long can you keep beef in the freezer
Ground beef can be stored in a freezer, such as the Interlevin Italia Freezer, for 3 to 4 months before it will lose quality and should be cooked. In comparison, beefsteak, chops and roasts can last 4 to 12 months in a freezer. Beef sausages can last 1 to 2 months in the freezer before they must be cooked or disposed of.
How long does pork last in the freezer
Pork chops, steak and roasts will last 4 to 12 months in the freezer before they must be cooked or they will lose their quality. Pork sausages will last 1 to 2 months in the freezer, whether they are cooked or raw. Ground pork can last 3 to 4 months in the freezer.
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Please refer to your engineer and health department before implementing any changes recommended in our blogs/articles, Due to the permutations of products & ambient temperature ranges, Fridgesmart is not liable for any incorrect information within this article. If in doubt seek the advice of an expert