Freezers are one of those modern conveniences that many of us take for granted. They help prevent food spoilage and keep our food safer for long-term storage. However, most of us don’t realize the importance of our freezers, until they quit working.
If you’ve ever had a freezer quit working, though, you know just what a hassle it can be. It can also be a huge waste of money! We actually went through this yesterday when my son left the freezer open after getting a popsicle. Fortunately, it looks like everything will be alright this time, unlike the last time he did this.
Here are a few tips to help you prevent some serious food waste if your freezer quits working.
Keep it Closed
If your freezer quits working, keep it closed if at all possible. It can be tempting to keep opening the freezer to check if everything is staying frozen, but resist this urge! Freezers are insulated, so they should keep their temperature as long as they’re closed. Every time you open the freezer, you’re letting the cold air out and the warm air in. Depending on the size of the freezer and how much food you have in it, your food should stay frozen – or at least partially frozen – for several hours to a couple of days.
Freezers that are full typically stay colder longer. If your freezer isn’t completely full, you may want to pack a few bags of ice in the freezer on and around the food. This will help keep food colder until you can repair or replace your freezer. Dry ice wrapped in newspaper will also and without the mess of melting ice, but it can be hard to track down on short notice.
Phone a Friend
If your freezer quits working and you’re unable to have it repaired or buy a new one quickly, you may need to find additional freezer space elsewhere. To prevent a massive waste of food and money, ask friends or family members if they have any extra freezer space.
Know What’s Safe to Refreeze
It’s imperative that you know what should be safe and what may not be safe if your freezer quits working. When a freezer quits working, some foods are safe to refreeze while others can spoil and make you sick if they fall below a certain temperature. Foods that are still partially frozen should still be safe, and you should be able to refreeze them. Raw meat that is still very cold to the touch should also be safe to refreeze. Meat that has been thawed and sitting at temperatures above 40 degrees F for more than an hour or two, on the other hand, should be discarded. Most other foods should be safe to refreeze, although you may notice a slight degradation in quality. The general rule of thumb when it comes to food safety, though, is “if in doubt, throw it out”. You can never really be too safe when it comes to food safety.