Freezing cooked food at temperatures of zero degrees Fahrenheit or below keeps foodborne illness-causing bacteria from multiplying. These low temperatures also prevent your food from spoiling. Different types of cooked foods can be stored for different amounts of time in the freezer. The storage time does not affect the safety of the food -- as long as the food as remains frozen, it will be safe indefinitely. But prolonged periods of time in the freezer will affect the quality of your cooked foods.
Meat and Fish
In general, cooked meat will maintain its quality for two to three months in the freezer. Ham should be eaten within one to two months, and chicken nuggets should be eaten within one to three months. Fried chicken will keep for four months. Cooked poultry dishes and cooked fish will last for longer, between four and six months.
Other Cooked Dishes
If you've cooked a pizza, a quiche, or a pumpkin or pecan pie, you can freeze it for one to two months. Homemade soup or stew with vegetables and meat will still taste delicious after two to three months in the freezer. A casserole with eggs will last for two to three months, while a casserole without eggs will retain its quality for three to four months.
If you want to store cooked vegetables in the freezer, blanched vegetables work best. Blanched vegetables will keep for 12 to 18 months. If you've fully cooked your vegetables, puree them before putting them in the freezer. Pureed vegetables will retain their quality for longer than cooked vegetables that have not been pureed.
To make it easy to keep track of your frozen foods, label and date any foods you place in your freezer. Always thaw your frozen food safely by placing it in the refrigerator or immersing it in cold water. Don't thaw your foods at room temperature or in hot water. You want your food to thaw while remaining out of the danger zone. At temperatures above 40 F, bacteria will start to multiply to dangerous levels.
- Foodsafety.gov: Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer
- Foodsafety.gov: Egg Storage Chart
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart
- Colorado State University Extension: Freezing Vegetables
- University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service: Preserving Food -- Freezing Animal Products
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service: The Big Thaw -- Safe Defrosting Methods -- for Consumers
- Freeze; Justine Pattison
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