Freezer Chart -- How Long is Too Long?



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Freezer chart 1
Freezer Chart

How long to you keep food in the freezer? Depends on the food and how it was (or was not) prepared.

You will find several helpful freezer charts below to assist you.

Freezer Storage Guidelines
Freezer Food Storage Information

The Recommended Storage Time (RST) is for storage at 0 °F. Temperature should not be more than 5°F. If temperature is not at optimal level, keep food no more than one week.

It's not dangerous to store longer than recommended below, but flavor, texture and quality deteriorate.


Freezer chart 2

Meats Freezer Chart

Food Item RST Handling Tips
Meat, Fish & Poultry (home frozen): n/a n/a
Bacon & Corned Beef 2-3 months See Note 1 below.
Frankfurters & Luncheon Meat 2-3 months See Note 2 below.
Ground Beef, Lamb, Veal 2-3 months See Note 4 below.
Veal, Ground pork and ham (picnic cured) 1-2 months See Note 3 below.
Roasts Beef (6-12 months), Lamb/Veal (6-9 months), Pork (3-6 months) See Note 4 below.
Sausage (dry/salted) 1-2 months If smoked see Note 3 below.
Sausage (fresh/unsalted) 1-2 months See Note 4 below.
Steaks & Chops Beef (6-9 months), Lamb/Veal (3-4 months), Pork (2-3 months) See Note 4 below.
Venison & Game Birds 8-12 months See Note 4 below.


Freezer chart 3

Fish & Seafood Freezer Chart

Food Item RST Handling Tips
Fish (purchased frozen): n/a n/a
Fillets & Steaks: Lean fish, cod, flounder, haddock, sole 6 months See Note 4 below.
Fatty Fish: Bluefish, perch, mackerel, salmon 2-3 months See Note 5 below.
Breaded fish 3 months See Note 5 below.
Clams, cooked fish or seafood, lobster tails, scallops 3 months See Note 5 below.
King crab 10 months See Note 5 below.
Oysters 4 months See Note 5 below.
Shrimp (uncooked) 12 months See Note 5 below.


Freezer chart 4

Poultry Freezer Chart

Food Item RST Handling Tips
Home Frozen or Purchased Frozen: n/a n/a
Chicken (whole or cut up) 10 months See Note 4 below.
Chicken livers 3 months See Note 4 below.
Cooked poultry 3 months See Note 4 below.
Duck 6 months See Note 4 below.
Turkey 6 months See Note 4 below.


Freezer chart 5

Fruits & Vegetables Freezer Chart

Food Item RST Handling Tips
Fruits: Home frozen or purchased frozen. n/a n/a
Berries, cherries, peaches, pears, pineapple 12 months Freeze in moisture/vapor proof container.
Citrus fruit & juice Frozen at home (6 months), Juice concentrates (12 months) n/a
Vegetables: n/a n/a
Home frozen 10 months Freeze in moisture/vapor proof container.
Purchased frozen (cartons, bags, boil-in-bags) 8 months Freeze in moisture/vapor proof container.


Freezer chart 6

Dairy Freezer Chart

Food Item RST Handling Tips
Butter/Margarine; Whipped Butter/Margarine Butter (6-9 months); Margarine (12 months); Whipped (do not freeze -- product will separate) Freeze in moisture/vapor proof container.
Buttermilk, sour cream & yogurt Do not freeze. Do not freeze.
Cheese: n/a n/a
Camembert 3 months Thaw in refrigerator
Cottage (farmer's cheese (dry curd only) 3 months Thaw in refrigerator. Do not refreeze -- gets mushy.
Neufachatel (cream cheese) Do not freeze. Do not freeze.
Hard Cheese Cheddar (6 weeks); Edam, Gouda, Swiss (brick)(6-8 weeks); Processed Cheese Products (loafs/slices) (4 months) Cut & wrap in small pieces. May show mottled color after freezing due to surface moisture. Thaw in refrigerator.
Roquefort (blue) 3 months Becomes crumbly on thawing. Still good for salads & melting.
Cream: n/a n/a
Heavy, half & half 2 months May not whip after thawing -- use for cooking. Thaw in refrigerator.
Whipped 1 month Make into "dollops." Freeze firm. Put in plastic bag or carton (seal, store, freeze). Place on top of dessert to thaw.
Eggs: n/a n/a
Fresh, in shell Do not freeze Do not freeze
Whites 12 months Store in covered container. Freeze in amounts specific to recipes.
Yolks 12 months Sweet dishes: Mix yolks with 1 Tbsp. corn syrup or sugar. Regular: Mix yolks with 1/2 tsp. salt.
Ice cream, ice milk, sherbert 2 months Cover with plastic wrap or foil after use.
Milk 1 month Expands on freezing. Thaw in refrigerator. Freezing affects flavor and appearance. Use in cooking and baking.


Freezer chart 7

Home Frozen Foods -- Freezer Chart

Food Item RST Handling Tips
Bread 3 months See note 6 below.
Cake 3 months See note 6 below.
Casseroles (meat, fish poultry) 3 months See Note 6 below.
Cookies (dough and baked) 3 months See Note 6 below.
Nuts Salted (6-8 months); Unsalted (9-12 months) See Note 6 below.
Pies 8 months See Note 6 below.


Freezer chart 8

Commercially Frozen Foods -- Freezer Chart

Also see: meats, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

Food ItemRSTHandling Tips
Baked goods:n/an/a
Yeast breads & rolls (baked)3-6 months.See Note 7 below.
Rolls (partially baked)2-3 monthsSee Note 7 below.
Bread (unbaked)1 monthSee Note 7 below.
Bread/Quick (baked)2-3 monthsSee Note 7 below.
Cake (baked/unfrosted)Angel food/Chiffon/Sponge (2 months); Cheese cake (2-3 months); Chocolate (4 months); Fruit cake (12 months); Yellow/Pound (6 months)See Note 7 below.
Cake (baked/frosted)8-12 monthsSee Note 7 below.
Cookies (baked)8-12 monthsSee Note 7 below.
Pie (baked)1-2 monthsSee Note 7 below.
Fruit pie (unbaked)8 monthsSee Note 7 below.

Note 1: Freezing cured meats not recommended. Salt encourages rancidity. If frozen, use within 1 month.
Note 2: Freezing not recommended. Product may "weep."
Note 3: Freezing alters flavor.
Note 4: Keep in original trays/wrap unless there are holes. If holes, rewrap. For longer storage, over-wrap with freezer wrap. Put layers of wax paper between patties of meat.
Note 5: Keep in original trays/wrap unless there are holes. If holes, rewrap. Thaw and follow cooking directions on label.
Note 6: Package tightly in foil, moisture proof wrap or freezer container. Allow casseroles head room for expansion.
Note 7: Freezing does not freshen baked goods. Quality/freshness is the same prior to freezing.



[Note: Information obtained from Texas Agricultural Extension Service, The Texas A&M University System]

FOOD SAFETY, STORAGE & PRESERVATION

FOOD PRESERVATION PRODUCE
General Info. Picking
Storage Guidelines
FREEZER REFRIGERATOR
Freezer Chart Storage Guidelines
Freezer Storage
MEAT & DAIRY SAFETY
Dairy Storage Safety
Meat, Fish, Poultry Storage Food Safety
PANTRY
Storage Info.


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