Is it safe to use a turkey that I have had in my freezer for over two years? Can I freeze ham salad?
I have received many phone calls recently about freezing food. Some people have more food than they can eat and others are doing some spring cleaning and want to know what foods are OK to still use.
Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about freezing:
What can you freeze? You can freeze almost any food. Some exceptions are canned food or eggs in shells. However, once the food (such as a ham) is out of the can, you may freeze it.
Being able to freeze food and being pleased with the quality after defrosting are two different things. Some foods simply don’t freeze well. Examples are mayonnaise, cream sauce, sour cream, lettuce, cooked macaroni and gelatin.
Can I freeze milk or cheese? While milk can be frozen, it may separate or be slightly grainy when thawed. Frozen milk works best for cooking, but you may find it is still OK for drinking. Freeze milk in plastic freezer containers but make sure to leave some extra space at the top since milk expands during freezing.
Hard or semi-hard cheese can be frozen if cut in 1/2 to 1-pound blocks. Wrap in plastic wrap and then put in freezer bags. After freezing, cheese may become crumbly and mealy, but it will retain its flavor. Freeze shredded cheese in its original package.
Allow it to thaw for at least 24 to 48 hours in the refrigerator. This will allow the moisture (which becomes frost when it is frozen) to go back into the cheese. Use thawed cheese as quickly as possible. Previously frozen cheese works best for cooking.
How long can I keep food in the freezer? Food stored constantly at 0 degrees F will always be safe, only the quality suffers with longer freezer storage. 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.
Is it safe to freeze meat or poultry directly in its supermarket wrapping? It is safe but this type of wrap does allow air in the package. Unless you will be using the food in a month or two, overwrap these packages as you would any food for long-term storage using airtight heavy-duty foil, (freezer) plastic wrap or freezer paper, or place the package inside a (freezer) plastic bag.
Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, is it safe to refreeze it? As long as it has been handled properly (not left at room temperature) and not defrosted for too long, it is safe to eat. There may be a loss of quality from the moisture lost through defrosting. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods.
Peanut Power Smoothie
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 1-3/4 cups slice banana (or any other fresh or canned and drained fruit)
- 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 1-1/2 cups cold water
Put all ingredients in blender. Blend on low until smooth, and serve.
Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.
Makes 4 servings.
Note: To avoid peanuts or peanut butter, try sunflower seeds or sunflower seed butter.
Nutrition information per serving: 180 calories, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 115 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber.
Recipe from: Oregon State Extension, Food Hero website