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10 top tips to maximize your Freezer

Fridge and Freezer storage

The fridge and freezer are the best place to store most food

Keeping things cold is the best way to extend the life of food. Fridges help keep food fresh and safe while freezers can significantly extend the life of food. 

Fridge

Obviously one of the most valuable tools in your home for storing fresh products. Some foods will have specific storage instructions on the packaging but here are a few tips to help you make the most of the food in your fridge.

  • Use a fridge thermometer to check the temperature. It should be between 1degC and 4degC to keep your food safe.
  • The higher shelves will be slightly warmer than the bottom ones. This means that less risky items should be stored on these shelves, things like drinks and snacks. As it is at eye-level it's also the perfect place to have an "eat me first" shelf.
  • The lowest shelf is the coldest so is the best place for meat and fish. Make sure they are sealed properly so that their juices don't drip and contaminate other food.
  • The door is the warmest part of your fridge so is the perfect place for your tomato sauce and the rest of your condiments.
  • Avoid overcrowding your fridge as air must be able to circulate around the food to keep it at the right temperature.
  • Keep perishable and cooked food in your fridge but make sure you cool the cooked foods first
  • Store raw and cooked foods separately. Store raw meat and poultry in clean sealed containers on the bottom shelf of the fridge, so they can't touch or drip onto other fresh foods.
  • Rotate your items when unpacking your groceries - move the old stuff to the front and put the newer products behind.
  • Food can be kept fresher for longer by keeping them in their original packaging, in the fridge. Most modern packaging has been specially designed to preserve fresh food and keep it at its best, so don't open items until you need to.     

fREEZER

The freezer is something that many people simply don't utilize often enough. There is not much that can't be frozen. It is a great tool for making sure you have always got food in stock and for helping to avoid wasting it.

Did you know that you can freeze almost anything? Avocados? Yes! Chocolate? For sure. Wine? Why not!

You can keep food safely in the freezer for years, as long as it has been frozen the whole time. Over time the quality does start to deteriorate so it is best to eat frozen food within three months.

Make sure you:

  • Put frozen food in the freezer as soon as you get home
  • Freeze it before the Use By Date
  • Follow any freezing or thawing instructions
  • Defrost meat and fish in a sealed container at the bottom of the fridge so that they can't touch or drip onto other fresh foods.
  • Label the food so you know what it is
  • Use reusable containers to reduce plastic waste
  • Freeze in small portion sizes for quick meals
Here are the top 10 ideas to make the most of your freezer for ultimate food storage.

1. Avoid having a freezer full of UFOs! Unidentified frozen objects are never fun if you defrost chicken stock thinking it is wine. Make sure you label everything that goes into the freezer with what it is and the date.

2. While you shouldn't overcrowd your fridge, a full freezer works more efficiently than a half empty one so don't be afraid to stock up!

3. Defrost food overnight in the fridge, use within 24 hours and cook it until it is piping hot. If you need it quickly, food can be defrosted safely in the microwave.

4. Freezer burn typically appears as greyish-brown, dried patches on the surfaces of the food. It is not a food safety risk, and can be cut off before use.

5. The best ways to minimise freezer burn are to avoid temperature fluctuations within your freezer (e.g. make sure the door is kept closed and freezer is well loaded) and to ensure products are wrapped well, in air-tight packaging.

6. Cardboard cartons are not as good for freezing food in as plastic containers. Use them if you have to, just remember not to leave food frozen in cardboard containers for too long.

7. Foods which you have bought frozen or were frozen raw at home can be thawed, cooked and then re-frozen.

8. Milk can be successfully frozen. The fresher it is when you freeze it, the fresher it will be when you thaw it, so freeze it as soon as possible. Milk will expand when frozen so tip a small amount out of the bottle (use it in a hot drink) before freezing. Thaw in the fridge and shake well before using.

9. Bread should live in the freezer in New Zealand households to stop it going mouldy in our humid climate. Bang the loaf lightly on the bench top to separate the slices then freeze it and just take out what you need.

10. Hard cheese (Edam, tasty etc) freezes well, and grating before freezing is a good idea. Soft cheese shouldn't be frozen as the texture is not the same once frozen. 

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