Keeping Frost Out of the Freezer

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Bagged foods in freezerFrost inside your freezer is caused by moisture coming into contact with the coils inside the appliance and freezing. It can lead to odors, loss of storage space, and ineffective sealing of the appliance door.

Frost can also affect your food and lead to a condition known as freezer burn or frostbitten food. This is caused by several factors, including dehydration from changes in temperature within your freezer, exposure to air, and food is in the freezer for too long. When moisture evaporates from the food, ice crystals form on its surface. Freezer burn affects the taste of your food and may lead to food loss.

Nobody wants to see ice crystals in the freezer, so follow these seven tips to keep your frozen food as fresh as possible.

  • Keep the door closed – Opening the freezer door allows cold air to escape and introduces humidity. Humidity contains moisture, which can turn into frost. When the temperature inside the freezer rises, the appliance has to work harder to keep items frozen. Avoid unnecessary trips and gather everything you need at once if possible.
  • Organize it – If you keep your freezer organized, it’s easier for you to find what you need faster, reducing the chances that you’ll have to open and close the freezer multiple times.
  • Stock it correctly – As a general rule of thumb, freezers should be stocked with two to three pounds of food per cubic foot of space. Frost can build up easily in freezers that are too empty or too full.
  • Avoid storing hot items – Only put cool or cold foods in your freezer. Storing hot foods can lead to humidity. If you have hot foods that you need to freeze, let them cool off in the refrigerator first.
  • Dry off food before storing it – By the time you get food from the freezer aisle of your grocery store to your home, it has probably started to defrost a bit, leading to moisture on the outside of the packaging. Before you put these items away, wipe them off with a cloth to remove moisture and prevent frost.
  • Use the right storage containers – One easy way to avoid frost buildup on your food is to use appropriate storage containers that minimize access to air. If you’re using plastic containers, they should be sized appropriately for the amount of food inside, without a lot of extra room for air. Plastic bags should be freezer or storage bags, which are generally thicker than normal sandwich bags.
  • Maintain a consistent temperature – Exterior and interior temperatures are key to avoiding frost in your freezer. Keep your freezer inside. Putting your freezer outdoors may mean the appliance has to work harder, especially in colder conditions, which can cause frost. The interior freezer temperature should be around zero degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a freezer thermostat to monitor the temperature.

Also, follow these tips when packaging up items to store in the freezer:

  • Cool all foods and syrup before packing. This speeds up freezing and helps retain natural color, flavor, and texture of food.
  • Pack foods in quantities that will be used at one time.
  • Most foods require head-space between the packed food and the closure for expansion as the food freezes. Loose packing vegetables, such as asparagus and broccoli, bony pieces of meat, tray-packed foods and breads, do not need head-space.
  • Pack foods tightly to cut down on the amount of air in the package.
  • Run a nonmetal utensil, such as a rubber scraper handle, around the inside of the container to eliminate air pockets.
  • When wrapping food, press out as much air as possible and mold the wrapping as close to the food as possible.
  • When packing food in bags, press the air from the bags. Beginning at the bottom of the bag, press firmly moving toward the top of the bag to prevent air from re-entering or force the air out by placing the filled bag in a bowl of cold water taking care that no water enters the bag. Seal either method by twisting and folding back the top of the bag and securing with string, good quality rubber band, a strip of coated wire, or other sealing devices. Many bags may be heat sealed, and some have a tongue-in-groove seal built-in.
  • Keep sealing edges free from moisture or food so they’ll make a good closure.
  • When using tape, it should be freezer tape, designed for use in the freezer. The adhesive remains effective at low temperatures.
  • Label each package with the name of product, date, amount, and any added ingredients. Use freezer tape, freezer marking pens or crayons, or gummed labels made especially for freezer use.

With a little bit of extra effort and vigilance, you can prevent frost in your freezer. Follow the tips above to keep your frozen foods as fresh as possible and your freezer in tip-top shape.