August 30, 2013, by Ken Jorgustin
The most popular modern food preservation method is freezing. Except for the risk of power loss and the resultant spoilage (if more than ~24 hours), freezing food is simple, easy and convenient.
A common question about freezing food is how long will foods last in the freezer?
Be sure that your freezer is at least 0 degrees F (-18°C), preferably -5 degrees F (-21°C). Check this by getting yourself a freezer thermometer for this purpose, and leave it in your freezer for several hours before measuring.
Even though food will freeze with any temperature below 32 degrees F, you really should keep your freezer at 0°F or less. The reason is that low temperature microbes will still develop below 32°F, but are very much stalled at 0°F or below. I have read that the shelf life of your food is cut in half when comparing 0°F to 20°F !
Another tip is to keep your freezer fairly full. Fill it with food, not air. It takes less energy to keep foods at freezing temperatures than it does keeping air at freezing temperatures. If your power goes out, the frozen foods will help maintain freezing temperatures for a time (an air filled freezer will warm rapidly).
Foods will eventually spoil in the freezer. Some microbes will still grow at low temperatures, albeit very slowly (the colder it is, the slower they reproduce).
Most freezer food charts (shelf life) that I have seen are related to food quality and/or nutrition. Most recommendations generally are that freezer foods should be consumed within a year. This is a good rule of thumb. Most foods frozen beyond one year will have lost much of their quality, and although they may not be entirely spoiled, the nutritional value and taste may be quite less than appealing.