- Let foods cool to room temperature, or slightly above room temperature before refrigeration. This helps so the temperature in the refrigerator does not increase. Also, make sure that the air is able to circulate around your food for about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Cool foods to refrigerator temperature before putting into your freezer. Make sure to loosely cover your food in the refrigerator to allow the heat to escape.
- Pack foods into freezer containers or freezer bags. Freezer bags are thicker than storage bags and will help to keep your food fresh longer. Remove as much of the air from the bag as possible. Also, freeze foods in a thin, flattened shape in the freezer bags. This helps for storage as well as thawing.
- Label your food. Label foods using freezer tape, gummed freezer labels or permanent markers. Make sure to include the name of the food, packaging date, serving size or amount, and special ingredients. Do not stack freezer bags until frozen so they freeze faster.
- When you are ready to thaw and cook frozen foods, DO NOT thaw foods at room temperature. If foods are left out too long at room temperature, bacteria can grow and produce heat-resistant toxins that can cause food-borne illness. Plan ahead for slow, safe thawing. Up to 5 pounds of food takes about 24 hours to thaw in the refrigerator; otherwise, you can thaw your food in the microwave.
Senior Communication Consultant, Marketing Communications
Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare