When Should I Toss Freezer Food?

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If you're anything like me you probably have no idea what is at the very bottom of your freezer right now. Sure you can plainly see those half-eaten bags of french fries and those popsicles that have been there since the Summer of 2018 but when was the last time you took everything out and tossed out what was bad? Did you just buy more chicken breast because you forgot you have a pack already frozen? By the time you clean your freezer out, you discover it covered in freezer burn? I'm 100 percent guilty of this.

For me, I realized it was time to take everything out and start from scratch when I made some homemade sweet tea and filled my glass with ice. I took a big drink only to be surprised by the bitter taste of onion. This was the result of using the ice from the tray inside the freezer. It took on the taste of some yellow onions that my son had cut up and froze to toss in his morning eggs. Yup, I ruined the whole pitcher of sweet tea. So it began, the unearthing of all the things I had tossed in the freezer and forgot about.

What Should I Toss & How Often?

You will want to toss your ice tray if you haven't used the dispenser in a while as the ice cubes will just clump together and after a while can take on the taste and smell of some items in your freezer (onions and garlic)

Many people like to freeze fresh spices and veggies which is great and they have a shelf life of about 6 months but those things can make ice cubes taste funny.

Some items that you want to toss are anything that has a break in the packaging and allows air to get in causing ice and frost to set in. Food will not have a good taste once cooked.

Also, anything that isn't labeled (have you ever gone to make a smoothie with what you thought was a frozen banana to find out it's a tamale? NO? Just me? Ok yes this really happened)

Items containing dairy don't hold up more than 1 to 3 months, including ice cream, milk and yogurt. When you go to thaw them to use after too long in the freezer they will clump up and have a curdled texture.

The 1 diary item that can stay frozen and not lose taste or texture for up to 12 months is butter.

Meats on the other hand can keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.

How To Avoid Having To Toss Food You Paid Good Money For

The best practice for not having to toss too many items from your freezer is come up with a master list of the top 12-15 meals you make on a consistent basis and shop those meats and other items and make sure you rotate from the freezer pulling items that when bought first not last.

If you run into a problem where you have an odor in your freezer from old food that just won't go away a good remedy is to take lumps of charcoal that you use for cooking on the grill (the kind without lighter fluid added) and put on a paper bag and leave 3 or 4 lumps in the freezer. These will absorb any lingering odors lurking in your freezer.

The best way to NOT have to toss food that you pay good money for is to check what you have on hand before you head to the store.

I am currently listening to my husband lecture me on all the things we had to throw away for this very reason. So I can relate if you find things once you start cleaning out your freezer and find that slice of cake from your 30th Birthday party and you just turned 40 last week.

Read more in this article Dirt Detectives contributed to in Mashed.