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Frozen food thawed during winter?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 373
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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We’ve had heavy snowfalls around here this winter, with the leaning and falling coniferous trees that go along with it.  One result is that power lines get snapped and we have power outages that can affect things for anywhere from a few hours to a day or more.

A couple days ago a friend phoned, wondering if we had a freezer that was still working.  Her fridge had been knocked out by a surge that was one result of local power havoc.  Could we keep the food for her until her refrigerator was repaired?  She came over with a fairly compact bag from her fridge freezer space.

The situation got me thinking about freezer failures.  It’s my understanding that, in the short term (a day or so), it’s only things like raw meats (red or fowl) or fish that you might suspect of being hazardous to health if they thawed out completely before being refrozen.

Does this make sense?  Are there exceptions to this?
 
gardener
Posts: 1224
Location: Middle Tennessee
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I think what matters is how long something like raw meats were allowed to get above 38f or 3c. If they stayed below those temps, that's essentially the same as a fridge, which ought to keep meats good for up to 7 days (in my household. Others may decide more time is acceptable or fewer days are acceptable). Temperatures above 38f or 3c is when bacteria can really start running rampant. My wife and I regularly thaw say, ground beef, but only need a portion of it, and we'll refreeze the rest.

Is temperature below freezing outdoors where you're at? Why not just put the food outside in critter proof containers for the time being?
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 373
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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James Freyr wrote:Is temperature below freezing outdoors where you're at? Why not just put the food outside in critter proof containers for the time being?



Thanks for your reply, James.  Good thoughts & info.  On the above point, well the problem is that it tends to be wintry around here in terms of serious snowfalls and snow accumulation.  Yes, we can get lows that go down below -4*F (-20C) — but we can have lengthy winter stretches with the night & day temps hovering just below and above the freezing point.
 
Posts: 306
Location: S. Ontario Canada
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Food will keep the longest at low temps but frozen is still frozen.
One reason I want to get out of here.... power failure for a few days in winter ... local municipality is handing out $100 gift cards to all too dumb to put their food outside... I get to pay for it.
 
Joel Bercardin
Posts: 373
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Roy Hinkley wrote:Food will keep the longest at low temps but frozen is still frozen.
One reason I want to get out of here.... power failure for a few days in winter ... local municipality is handing out $100 gift cards to all too dumb to put their food outside... I get to pay for it.


I see your point, Roy.  In my case, we've got containers I could bury in the snow even if our air temps are only down to the freezing point or just a little  above.  So food could be stored in these for a while.  Our friend who asked for freezer space likely does not have any containers that would work for that.  Containers would be valuable, to keep the food items consolidated and maybe give a bit of protection against roving neighborhood dogs that might like to dig food up at night.

Containers here would have to be buried deep enough that the thawing process of the snow here would not soon uncover them.  Whereas I assume your winter temps in Ontario would maintain the snow depth better.

As a shorter-term stopgap method, we keep blankets in our basement right next to where our two freezers are.  When power goes out, we cover the freezers for added insulation.

 
pollinator
Posts: 1453
Location: northern California
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Another hint to remember is that a full freezer will stay cold longer.  If you live in an area prone to power failures it would be worthwhile to do something like fill plastic jugs with water and put them in there as space becomes available, so that the freezer is always almost full of either food or ice.  Of course there's a tradeoff with the energy required to freeze that water....you might be able to abate this cost by letting them freeze themselves outside on a cold night.
 
pollinator
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Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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I had a breaker trip on the circuit my freezer was on. CFI circuits can be a problem with freezers. I had about 100lbs of beef in it. When I discovered the power failure, the meat was mostly thawed but had a little ice, so I figured it was still refrigerator temperature. The blood was really a mess. The meat tasted fine, and I used it all. I did make sure I cooked it well done.
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