At what temperature should the freezer be maintained?

Freeze and store foods at 0°F or less.

Can food be refrozen if it has thawed?

Foods can be refrozen if at least one ot these two conditions are met: 1) Foods have only partially thawed and still have ice crystals in the package; 2) The freezer temperature has remained at 40°F or below. Before using, check to see that color and odor of the food are good. Quality of the food will be lower.

What is freezer burn?

It is dehydration or drying that occurs on the surface of a frozen product if it is improperly wrapped. The food is safe to eat but poorer quality. To prevent freezer burn, the package must be free of air and sealed airtight.

Can meat and poultry be thawed in the conventional oven?

No, meat and poultry should never be thawed in the conventional oven or at room temperature. There is greater danger of bacterial growth and food spoilage for food thawed at room temperature. Thaw meat and poultry in the refrigerator in the original wrappings. To speed thawing, loosen the wrapping. To keep other foods safe, put the thawing meat and poultry in a pan on the bottom shelf. For a quicker method, immerse meat or poultry in a watertight bag into cold water. Thaw until it is pliable. Meat and poultry can also be thawed quickly and safely in the microwave oven, followed by immediate cooking, either in the microwave oven or by some other method. Because microwave ovens vary, check your manufacturer's instructions for information on how to safely thaw in your microwave oven. Frozen meat and poultry can also be cooked without thawing.

Should frozen vegetables be thawed before cooking?

For most vegetables, no. You get a fresher tasting product if it has not been thawed. Exceptions are corn-on-the cob and leafy greens which cook more evenly if partially thawed first.

What causes frost or ice crystals to appear on the surface of frozen vegetables such as broccoli?

Inadequate draining of vegetables before freezing, slow freezing or fluctuation of storage temperatures above 0°F may cause undesirable formation of large and excessive ice crystals. This can affect the texture as well as appearance of frozen vegetables.

Is it recommended to blanch vegetables before freezing?

Yes. Blanching slows or stops the action of enzymes which cause loss of flavor, color and texture. Blanching cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins. Blanching also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack.

Why are frozen fruits sometimes soft when thawed?

If fruits are frozen slowly large ice crystals form and rupture cell walls causing a soft mushy product. For best results, quick freeze at -10°F and serve just as ice crystals are disappearing.

How do you prevent fruit from turning brown during freezing?

There are several ways to prevent darkening of fruit; use pure ascorbic acid or ascorbic acid mixtures. Citric acid or lemon juice may sometimes be used but are not as effective as ascorbic acid. Some fruits which are to be cooked before serving may also be steamed to prevent browning.

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