Q: If I realise my freezer has been out of power due to power cut or just plugged out - do I have to throw out all the food?
A: If the power is out for less than 24 hours, then the food in your freezer will be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep the freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for longer.
If your freezer starts again within 24 hours it’s best to leave the food there. Don’t open the door to check the food as this will raise the temperature. If it takes longer than 24 hours to restart, then other safety precautions come into play. Some foods resist thawing better than others, so check them all individually.
Remember the golden rule: When in doubt, throw it out.
Q: How should I defrost raw food properly?
A: You should always defrost raw food in the lower part of your fridge giving it the appropriate time to defrost completely before cooking. Allow at least 24 hours for every 2 - 2.5Kg (4 - 5lbs). It is not safe to defrost at room temperature.
Q: If I need to defrost something urgently and don’t have enough time – What can I do?
A: If you are planning on cooking the food immediately you could use your microwave. It is very important that you use the appropriate microwave setting and give the appropriate time specified in your microwave manual.
Q: Can I refreeze any food, which may have partly defrosted?
A: No – You should never refreeze food that has defrosted.
Q: How long should I keep food in my freezer?
A: If food is properly frozen there are no food safety concerns and the maximum length of time for storage of food in the freezer is a quality and not a food safety issue. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions for your freezer.
Q: What do the stars rating on my frozen foods mean?
A: The star-marking panel on food labels will tell you how long you can store your food, depending on your type of freezer.
*** = -18° C
** = -12° C
* = - 6° C
Q: Can all foods be frozen?
A: Many foods and individual ingredients can be frozen, however some foods simply aren’t freezer friendly.
|Great to freeze
||What NOT to freeze...
|Butter and margarine
|Raw eggs in their shells will expand and crack
|Hard-boiled eggs go rubbery
|Vegetables with high water content, like lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts and radishes, go limp and mushy
||Soft herbs, like parsley, basil and chives, go brown
|Egg-based sauces, such as mayonnaise, will separate and curdle
|Plain yogurt, low-fat cream cheese, single cream and cottage cheese go watery
|Casseroles, lasagne, pizza, shepherd’s pie
Q: How do I freeze foods?
A: Whether you have a chest freezer or upright freezer, the principles of good freezing are the same:
- Cool foods before you freeze them. Freezing food when hot will only increase the temperature of the freezer and could cause other foods to start defrosting. Dividing into smaller parts can speed up the cooling process
- Wrap or containers - Make sure you wrap foods properly or put them in sealed containers, otherwise your food can get freezer-burn. This affects the quality, not safety, of the food.
- Portion Sizes - Freeze food in realistically sized portions. You don't want to have to defrost a stew big enough to feed eight when you're only feeding a family of three
- Don’t be a hero - If in doubt, throw it out. Contrary to what you might think, freezing doesn't kill bacteria. If you are unsure of how long something has been frozen or are a bit wary of something once defrosted, don't take any chances
- Labels - It might seem like a lot of effort but unless you label foods or ingredients you freeze, you might not remember what they are, let alone when you froze them. Buy a blue marker for raw foods and a red marker for cooked foods. You don't need to write an essay - just label the food clearly. Use abbreviations that work for you, for example a big red M means cooked mince or a blue F means raw fish. And always add the date it was frozen
- What you put in - Freezing won't improve the quality of your food but can help you cut down on food you waste and helps store food for longer
- Icy freezer - An icy freezer is an inefficient one, so make sure you defrost your freezer if ice builds up. Don't worry about the food; most things will remain frozen in the fridge for a couple of hours while the freezer defrosts.
- If there has been a power cut or you think the freezer has been turned off at some point, don't open the door. Foods should remain frozen in the freezer for about 24 hours, leaving you time to get to the bottom of the problem
Q: Can I freeze fresh vegetables?
A: Freezing is the best way of preserving your fresh vegetables to enjoy later. When properly frozen, vegetables retain all their flavour and nutrients. To freeze fresh vegetables, boil a handful of vegetables at a time for 30 sec in a pot of boiling water - this will stop them going brown when frozen. Scoop them out into a bowl of heavily iced water - this is called blanching. Once chilled, drain the veg and scatter onto a tray lined with kitchen paper. Freeze on the tray then transfer to a freezer bag. Cook the vegetables from frozen in a large pan of boiling water. Do not steam, as they tend to go soggy.