Monday, February 17, 2014

Food Storage Shelf Life Chart

 

Freezer Storage Time

Because freezing keeps food safe for a long period of time, recommended storage times are for quality only. Refer to the freezer storage chart at the end of this blog post, which lists optimum freezing times for best quality.

If a food is not listed on the chart, you may determine its quality after thawing. First check the odor. Some foods will develop a rancid or off odor when frozen too long and should be discarded. Some may not look picture perfect or be of high enough quality to serve alone but may be edible; use them to make soups or stews.

food-storage-shelf-life-chart

Recommended freezing times aren't just to ensure the food is safe to eat. They also indicate for how long different types of foods maintain their texture and flavor. Foods that are frozen for too long can lose moisture, and get dry and tough.

Smart Tricks

Follow these top tips and smart tricks to use your freezer to the fullest and get best results from freezer-friendly recipes.

1) For quicker thawing and reheating, freeze meals such as casseroles and soups in serving size portions.

2) To avoid freezer burn and prevent food absorbing other flavors and odors, choose airtight, freezer proof containers.

3) Try to keep your freezer as full as you can. This makes it more cost-efficient and saves energy as less power is needed to circulate the cold air and keep the food frozen.

4) If you need large quantities of ice cubes for a party, empty the frozen contents of ice cube trays into a large airtight container. Refill the trays and repeat, till you have enough ice cubes. Store in the freezer.


Watch Video: How to Freeze Fruit for Smoothies


Too Much Food: How to Store It

This chart gives you an idea of how long leftover foods can survive in the refrigerator or freezer. The times are only approximate, and we make no guarantees, because we don’t know how old the food was when you bought it or how close to ideal temperatures your refrigerator performs. (Optimum temperatures are 0°F in the freezer and 34°F to 38°F in the refrigerator.) We tend to be conservative; in most cases, a little bit longer shouldn’t hurt. In the Special Notes line, (F) refers to freezer only and (R) to refrigerator only.

BAKED GOODS

Bread, cakes, rolls
1 week in refrigerator
2 months in freezer
Special Notes: Due to sugar content, cake can be kept at room temperature for up to a week.

Cookies:

Dough
2–3 days in refrigerator
3 months in freezer

Baked
2 weeks in refrigerator
4–6 months in freezer

Muffins
3–4 days in refrigerator
2 months in freezer

Pies
2–3 days in refrigerator
2 months in freezer
Special Notes: Don’t freeze custard pies; they will get watery.

Tortillas
1 week in refrigerator
3 months in freezer
Special Notes: Wrap tightly.

Waffles, pancakes
1–2 days in refrigerator
1 month in freezer

DAIRY PRODUCTS

Butter, margarine
1 month in refrigerator
6 months in freezer
Special Notes: Wrap tightly.

Cheese:
Cottage, ricotta, cream cheese
3–5 days in refrigerator
Do not freeze

Other soft cheeses
1–2 weeks in refrigerator
2–3 months in freezer

Hard cheeses
3–6 months in refrigerator
6 months in freezer

Ice cream
2 months in freezer

Milk, cream
3 days in refrigerator
Do not freeze

EGGS

Whole, raw eggs
2 weeks in refrigerator
6–8 months in freezer
Special Notes: (F) Do not freeze in shells. Break into container.

Yolks or whites separated, raw
1–2 days in refrigerator
6–8 months in freezer
Special Notes: (R) Keep yolks covered with water; whites in covered containers.

Hard-boiled eggs
8–10 days in refrigerator
Do not freeze

FISH

Cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, shrimp
1 day in refrigerator
4 months in freezer
Special Notes: (R) Wrap or cover loosely. (F) Wrap tightly in freezer wrap and tape well. Use waxed paper to separate individual pieces of fish.

Mullet, ocean perch, sea trout, striped bass, shucked clams
1 day in refrigerator
3 months in freezer

Salmon, crab meat
1 day in refrigerator
2 months in freezer

Cooked fish, shellfish
1–2 days in refrigerator
3 months in freezer
Special Notes: (F) Texture of fish may become mushy when defrosted.

FRUITS

Avocados
3–4 days in refrigerator
4–6 months in freezer
Special Notes: Purée them first.

Bananas
Store at room temperature
4–6 months in freezer
Special Notes: (F) Will soften in freezer, use for cooking.

Citrus fruits, apples
7 days in refrigerator
Do not freeze.
Special Notes: (R) Store uncovered or in crisper section.

Fruit-juice concentrates
1 week in refrigerator
12 months in freezer

Most other kinds
3–5 days in refrigerator
10–12 months in freezer
Special Notes: (F) Fruits other than berries should be packed in sugar or syrup or syrup plus ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

MEATS

Beef, roasts, steak
3–5 days in refrigerator
12 months in freezer
Special Notes: (R) Wrap or cover loosely. (F) Wrap tightly in freezer wrap and tape well. Use waxed paper to separate individual pieces.

Cooked meat
1–2 days in refrigerator
3 months in freezer

1–3 days in refrigerator
1–3 months in freezer

Lamb chops
2–3 days in refrigerator
6–7 months in freezer

Liver, kidneys, tongue
1–2 days in refrigerator
1–3 months in freezer

Lunch meats
4 days–2 weeks in refrigerator
1–2 months in freezer
Special Notes: They lose flavor quickly. Wrap well.

Pork, Cured:

Bacon
7 days in refrigerator
2–3 months in freezer

Frankfurters
7 days in refrigerator
1 month in freezer

Ham, sliced
3–5 days in refrigerator
1–2 months in freezer

Ham, whole
7 days in refrigerator
1–2 months in freezer

Pork, fresh
3–5 days in refrigerator
8 months in freezer

Rabbit
1–2 days in refrigerator
6–12 months in freezer

Sausage:

Breakfast links
1 week in refrigerator
1–2 months in freezer

Cured
1 month in refrigerator
1–2 months in freezer

Fresh
1–2 days in refrigerator
1–2 months in freezer

Veal
3–5 days in refrigerator
6–8 months in freezer

Venison
2–4 days in refrigerator
6–12 months in freezer

POULTRY

Chicken, cooked
2–3 days in refrigerator
4–6 months in freezer
Special Notes: (R) Wrap or cover loosely. (F) Wrap solid pieces tightly in freezer wrap and tape well.

Chicken, pieces
1–2 days in refrigerator
6 months in freezer

Chicken, whole
1–2 days in refrigerator
12 months in freezer
Special Notes: Put juicy dishes in tightly closed, rigid containers.

All other poultry (goose, turkey, duck, etc.)
1–2 days in refrigerator
6 months in freezer

SOUPS, STEWS, CASSEROLES

2–3 days in refrigerator
2–4 months in freezer

TOFU

1 week in refrigerator
5 months in freezer
Special Notes: (R) After opening, tofu should be stored in water; change the water daily. (F) Freezing causes the texture to become firm and crumbly. (Some people prefer this texture.)

VEGETABLES

Canned (open); cooked
1–3 days in refrigerator
8–10 months in freezer
Special Notes: (R) Store canned (open) or cooked vegetables in covered container.

Fresh, above-ground
4–7 days in refrigerator
8–10 months in freezer
Special Notes: (R) Store fresh vegetables uncovered in crisper section. (F) Boil or blanch before freezing. Do not freeze tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, or any very crisp vegetable.

Fresh, root
1–2 weeks in refrigerator
8–10 month in freezer

Special Notes: (F) Blanch prior to freezing.

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