Cooking Louisiana  -  Frozen Food Facts
Frozen foods: There is an old myth out there that if everything in your freezer defrosts... it's all bad. A defrosted freezer is one of the fears that we all have when a hurricane or other natural storm approaches.

Can you save that food if it defrosts? Maybe so, read on....

Think about it! How many freezers have gone out, or "died" (that means "quit working"), or quit because of a power outage, and the contents, meat, beef, pork, seafood or whatever, never reached a temperature above 40°F, yet, all was thrown away! If the food has thawed and NEVER reached a temperature ABOVE 40°F you can re-freeze it. Having a freezer thermometer tells you this! There are several kinds, to the right is just one and these are called "analog". You may have a digital thermometer on the door of your freezer.

The rule (USDA rule) is any perishable and refrigerated (even frozen already) food that reaches a temperature above 40°F for two hours is not good to keep. That means if the food remained below 40°F "THE FOOD IS STILL GOOD"! Just keep it at or below 40°F and it will be just fine. Me personally, I don't even consider the two hour time period. If you open the freezer for the first time and the temperature is above 40°F how are you going to know how long it was above 40°F?

Here's a common sense solution to possibly avoid loosing your frozen foods. Keep a thermometer in your freezer at all times. If the freezer goes out, and, you're lucky enough to catch it, open the door and look at the thermometer. Bingo, there's your decision maker. If the temperature is below 40°F you're okay. You can quickly ice the food down and it'll be okay. Throw bags of ice or dry ice in the freezer, hey, the freezer is insulated, it'll stay good! You've got to move quick on this though, and watch the thermometer!

On the other hand if it is at, or above, 40°F for more than two hours you're luck just ran out... throw it all in the trash! This rule holds true for all frozen meats and vegetables. Foods spoil between 40°F and 140°F, that's a proven fact.

If you anticipate the power going out (a hurricane is approaching) get yourself an ice chest or two and fill them with ice (leave the ice in the bags) a day before the storm is to hit. If your power goes out you're ready. Think ahead of what you might cook, open the freezer and get it out and put those foods in an ice chest. Don't open the freezer any more than you have to.

If your freezer is not full, pack it with bags of ice or frozen gallon water jugs before the power goes out. The less free air space you have the slower your foods will defrost.

You can also save your food with a generator. If your freezer has been out but the food stayed below 40°F plug it into the generator and let it run as much as you can. Don't be surprised if the food does not re-freeze right away. What's important is the power being on will keep the food cold enough not to spoil, it will eventually re-freeze.

Okay, I can tell by that look on your face that you don't quite believe me, so, here's the proof... (click here)

Do you know how long foods stay good in the freezer? FSIS Web Site... this tells it all.

Be smart, think ahead.