Thursday, September 22, 2011

Freezer Expirations

This information comes from the October 2011 issue of Taste of Home Magazine.

As I said yesterday, I never thought of things in the freezer as having an expiration date. The freezer was always a place I tucked things away for a better day or to extend the life of whatever I was freezing. For years, I tucked away things that I never got back to. My husband became the mean man who actually threw away my frozen shriveled treasures that I was sure I would come back to some day.
This list of expiration dates is going to become my new guideline for things in my freezer. The plan is to use up the old zucchini, rhubarb and other produce that I have stashed away over the next couple of months. After that, I will only freeze what I can use in a reasonable amount of time. The meat I freeze will be for each month but with the notion that they will not sit there for more than 60 days (except bacon and you'll see why in just a moment). Using up what I have doesn't always feel like a good strategy. I grew up learning that storage was the way to go. You bought in bulk and then over stacked your pantry, freezer and what ever nooks and crannies you could find. My grandmother was the expert in this. When she moved from Washington to Arizona, she left behind a house full of food. There was enough to feed our entire community of 350 people for several meals (no exaggeration). Most of the food was bad, we gave away five gallon drums of various grains and dried foods to a pig farmer because it was all stale (and unappetising).
That food was a wasted expense and that's not what we want. It may seem counter-productive to not have a huge food store but it guarantees the food isn't wasted. That doesn't mean not having a food storage for emergencies, it just means re-thinking. I promise to go more into emergency food stores at a later date (trust me, I dream of having the money to invest in a huge food store).
Back to the topic at hand: freezer expiration dates

Here is the list - the numbers represent the number of maximum months the food can be stored in the freezer. You'll see this is not an exhaustive list, for more information there are a number of freezer websites out there (and don't hesitate to check with your local extension office).

Cooked Casseroles with Meat 2-3
Cooked Soups and Stews 2-3
Raw Bacon 1
Raw Steak 6-12
Raw Pork Chops 4-6
Raw Hamburger 4
Cooked, plain chicken breast 4
Raw Chicken Pieces 9
Whole Chicken or Turkey 12
Cooked Fish 4-6
Cooked Shrimp 3
Ice Cream 2
Cheese, hard or soft 6
Butter 6-9
Frozen Veggies 8
Baked Pie 1-2
Cheesecake 2-3
Baked Quick Bread 2-3
Yeast Bread or Rolls 3-6
Baked Cookies 8-12

Hope that helps make your freezer storage more efficient. Coming next - how to use up some of those frozen items in my freezer. If you have excess frozen goods - let me know so I can come up with some ideas for you.

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