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Freezer Food Spoilage
We have an upright freezer in our garage where we put most of our freezer foods because our old side-by-side refrigerator doesn’t have a very big freezer. Today, we discovered that the door to the upright freezer in the garage had not been shut properly either last night or earlier today. I think one of the kids went out to the freezer to get a popsicle and didn’t shut the door properly. *Gah!* We lost a bunch of food, including chicken breasts and ground beef, and y’all know that stuff ain’t cheap! This isn’t the first time it has happened either. Last time it happened, the freezer was packed and we lost twice as much food that time.
Each time it’s happened, I’ve had to get on the internet to look up which foods I can refreeze, and which need to be thrown away because my memory stinks! A couple of times we caught it in time to be able to refreeze everything, but this time it was left open so long that everything had already thawed out and was starting to get warm. We ended up throwing everything away. When in doubt, throw it out! I have created a printable for anyone who is unsure of what you can refreeze and what you need to throw away. Hopefully, this will save someone time and give them a bit more confidence if they ever find themselves in this situation. You can download the Freezer Food Safety Printable here:
Freezer Open Door Alarms
Determined to never go through this again, I got on the internet and started looking for freezer alarms. I wanted an open door alarm with a timed delay so that you could open the freezer and get what you need without the alarm automatically going off. Instead, I wanted the alarm to only go off if the door was left open after a certain amount of time had passed. All I wanted was something simple. I didn’t want to buy a whole system just for a door alarm.
I looked on Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes, Best Buy, and I also Googled it. I found a couple of things that might have worked, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. There was this alarm that would have been perfect if the alarm was louder since we needed to hear the alarm from the garage. And I found several do-it-yourself door alarm circuit projects, such as this one on Amazon, but once again, the alarm wouldn’t be loud enough, and honestly, I really didn’t want to have to build something myself, so I decided to pass on these.
On Amazon, I did find a couple of freezer wireless digital thermometer alarms such as the AcuRite, which has an audible and visual alarm when temperatures exceed your preset minimum or maximum temperature range. But, again, that’s not exactly what I wanted.
I ended up calling our home security company, Vivint, and told them what had happened with our freezer and what I was looking for in the alarm. They recommended a door sensor, like the ones I have on my garage door and back door. The sensors can be programmed with a delay, allowing you to keep the door open for xxx amount of seconds, but if the door remains open after the seconds run out, either an alarm will sound, or if you prefer, you will receive a notification on your phone that the freezer door has been left open. This is exactly what I was looking for. It cost me $39, which is more than I wanted to pay, but considering the lack of freezer door alarms with delays on the market, I went ahead and forked out the $39 so that I will never go through losing my freezer food again.
Freezer Hacks to Monitor Temperature
You may not have kids who accidentally leave your freezer door partially open. If so, lucky you, haha! But what if you are away from home, at work, or on vacation and your electricity turned off causing your freezer to lose power for a while, and then eventually came back on, how would you know about it if you don’t have any kind of monitor on it? Here are two super simple hacks you can use to monitor whether your freezer’s temperature rises enough to start thawing out your food:
- Freeze a small plastic bowl or container of water and once frozen place a penny on top of the frozen water. If your freezer loses power the ice will start melting. As the ice melts, the penny will start sinking in the water. Keep in mind that it takes a long time for a cup of ice to completely melt in a well-insulated freezer. When the power comes back on, the ice will refreeze. If the penny is at the bottom of the cup, the food in your freezer is not safe to eat. If the penny is frozen in the ice somewhere near the top or middle, use your discretion and refer to the Freezer Food Safety printable to determine what you should discard and what you can keep.
- The same theory applies to an ice cube in a ziplock bag. If the power goes off in your freezer the ice cube will eventually start to melt. When the power comes back on, the water will refreeze. Depending upon how much the ice cube melted during the power outage, you should use your discretion in determining what is safe to keep and what should be thrown away.
I hope this helps you some, and you will never have to clean out your freezer and throw away ruined food!
If you liked this post, you might enjoy my post on Pantry Essentials to Take the Stress Out of Mealtime, as well!
May the sun shine on your conquest this day,
Melissa (chillin-out) Shantel