Our refrigerators or as my Grandmother affectionately called hers, the “icebox” is one of those appliances that we could not live without. We plug them in and let them do their job. But do you know how to get the most out of yours? Do you know how to care for it? Many refrigerators are now divided into four zones for different food types such as:
• 0 degrees for the freezer • 40 degrees for the refrigerator • 32 degrees for storage of meats
• 50 degrees for storage of vegetables
These temperatures vary with different makes and models as well as the different companies. If you kept your manual, read it, and find out what is suggested for your refrigerator. If you cannot find your manual, call the company with the make and model for such information.
The purpose of freezing food is obvious—to preserve it. Freezing food retards the growth of microorganisms which prevents foods from spoiling. It has been suggested that if a food has been properly frozen, it has the potential of lasting forever. Not sure we would want to eat a 5-year-old turkey. Nevertheless, here are a few suggestions:
• Use plastic freezer containers, freezer bags, aluminum (foil or pans), or plastic wrap.
• Do not use glass, butter or cottage cheese containers; wax paper; or plastic/produce bags. You want to use something that will be airtight.
• Do not stack containers in the freezer before freezing–spread them out to freeze and then stack.
• If you are filling your freezer with a lot of food that is not frozen yet, set the temperature to the coldest a few hours before.
• A quick freeze is better for your food than a slow freeze.
• Do not thaw and refreeze food. Food thawed with the cold water method can be refrozen.
• Food that has freezer burn can be used. Cut off any affected areas and cook.
• When freezing vegetables, always blanch them first which helps to prevent loss of color, flavor, and nutrients.
• If you ever lose power to your freezer, keep the door shut and your food will remain safe for 2 days with a full freezer; only 1 day if the freezer is only half full
• Quarterly, vacuum the coils behind your refrigerator and the front panel, which helps the unit run more efficiently.
• An empty or half-empty freezer pulls more energy than a full one. Save your milk jugs and fill them with water and freeze to fill empty space.
Join me next week on How to Store Food Properly in the Freezer.