Freezer Storage Times for Frozen and Refrigerated Food

Author: Disabled World
Published: 2009/09/15 - Updated: 2024/02/10
Publication Type: Informative - Peer-Reviewed: N/A
Contents: Summary - Main - Related Publications

Synopsis: Freezer storage chart for preventing refrigerated and frozen foods from spoiling or becoming unsafe to eat. Did you know frozen food does not reduce its nutrients? There is very little change in a food's protein value caused by freezing. Never allow meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, produce, or other food that requires refrigeration to sit at room temperature for over 2 hours - 1 hour if the air temperature is above 90° F.

Frozen Food

Freezing food preserves it from when it is prepared to when it is eaten. Freezing food slows decomposition by turning residual moisture into ice, inhibiting the growth of most bacterial species. Preserving food in domestic kitchens during modern times is achieved using household freezers. Accepted advice to householders was to freeze food on the day of purchase. An initiative by a supermarket group in 2012 promotes freezing food as soon as possible up to the product's use-by date.

Main Digest

The chart below suggests safe freezing time limits for keeping refrigerated and frozen foods from spoiling or becoming unsafe to eat. Keep your appliances at the proper temperatures. Keep the refrigerator temperature at or below 40° F (4° C). The freezer temperature should be 0° F (-18° C). Check temperatures periodically. Appliance thermometers are the best way of knowing these temperatures and are generally inexpensive.

Refrigerate or Freeze Perishables ASAP

Foods that require refrigeration should be put in the refrigerator as soon as you get them home.

Stick to the "2-hour rule" for leaving items needing refrigeration at room temperature.

Never allow meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, produce, or other foods that require refrigeration to sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours - 1 hour if the air temperature is above 90° F.

Continued below image.
Image of a typical home chest freezer.
Image of a typical home chest freezer.
Continued...

Refrigerator Temperatures

Freezer Storage Times

Freezer Storage Times for Frozen/Refrigerated Food
ProductRefrigerator (40 degree F)Freezer (0 degree F)
Eggs
Raw eggs in shell 3 to 5 weeks Do not freeze. Instead, beat yolks and whites together, then freeze.
Raw egg whites 2 to 4 days 12 months
Raw egg yolks 2 to 4 days Yolks do not freeze well.
Raw egg accidentally frozen in shell Use immediately after thawing. Keep frozen; then
refrigerate to thaw.
Hard-cooked eggs 1 week Do not freeze.
Egg substitutes, liquid
(Unopened)
10 days 12 months
Egg substitutes, liquid
(Opened)
3 days Do not freeze.
Egg substitutes, frozen
(Unopened)
After thawing, seven days or refer to the "Use-By" date. 12 months
Egg substitutes, frozen
(Opened)
After thawing, three days or refer to the "Use-By" date. Do not freeze.
Casseroles with eggs 3 to 4 days After baking, 2 to 3 months.
Eggnog
(Commercial)
3 to 5 days 6 months
Eggnog
(Homemade)
2 to 4 days Do not freeze.
Pies
Pumpkin or pecan
3 to 4 days After baking, 1 to 2 months.
Pies
Custard and chiffon
3 to 4 days Do not freeze.
Quiche with filling 3 to 4 days After baking, 1 to 2 months.
Bacon and Sausage
Bacon 7 days 1 month
Sausage, raw from chicken, turkey, pork, beef 1 to 2 days 1 to 2 months
Beverages, Fruit
Juices in cartons, fruit drinks, punch 3 weeks unopened
7 to 10 days opened
8 to 12 months
Cooked Poultry
Fried chicken 3 to 4 days 4 months
Pieces, plain 3 to 4 days 4 months
Chicken nuggets, patties 1 to 2 days 1 to 3 months
Dairy
Butter 1 to 3 months 6 to 9 months
Cheese, Hard (such as Cheddar, Swiss) 6 months, unopened
3 to 4 weeks, opened
6 months
Cheese, Soft (such as Brie, Bel Paese) 1 week 6 months
Cottage Cheese, Ricotta 1 week Doesn't freeze well
Cream Cheese 2 weeks Doesn't freeze well
Margarine 4 to 5 months 12 months
Milk 7 days 3 months
Sour cream 7 to 21 days Doesn't freeze
Yogurt 7 to 14 days 1 to 2 months
Fish
Lean fish (cod, flounder, haddock, sole, etc.) 1 to 2 days 6 months
Fatty fish (bluefish, mackerel, salmon, etc.) 1 to 2 days 2 to 3 months
Cooked fish 3 to 4 days 4 to 6 months
Smoked fish 14 days or date on vacuum package 2 months in vacuum package
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb, Pork
Steaks 3 to 5 days 6 to 12 months
Chops 3 to 5 days 4 to 6 months
Roasts 3 to 5 days 4 to 12 months
Fresh Poultry
Chicken or turkey, whole 1 to 2 days 1 year
Chicken or turkey, pieces 1 to 2 days 9 months
Ham
Ham, fully-cooked vacuum sealed at the plant, undated, unopened 2 weeks 1 to 2 months
Ham, fully-cooked, whole 7 days 1 to 2 months
Hamburger, Ground & Stew Meat
Hamburger & stew meat; Ground turkey, veal, pork, lamb & mixtures of them 1 to 2 days 3 to 4 months
Hot dogs - Luncheon Meats
Hot dogs, opened the package - Unopened package 1 week2 weeks 1 to 2 months1 to 2 months
Luncheon meats opened the package - Unopened package 3 to 5 days2 weeks 1 to 2 months1 to 2 months
Meat Leftovers
Cooked meat and meat casseroles 3 to 4 days 2 to 3 months
Gravy and meat broth 1 to 2 days 2 to 3 months
Pizza
Pizza 3 to 4 days 1 to 2 months
Shellfish
Shrimp, scallops, crayfish, squid, shucked clams, mussels, and oysters 1 to 2 days 3 to 6 months
Live clams, mussels, crab, lobster, and oysters 2 to 3 days 2 to 3 months
Cooked shellfish 3 to 4 days 3 months
Soup & Stews
Vegetable or meat added 3 to 4 days 2 to 3 months
Stuffing
Stuffing-cooked 3 to 4 days 1 month

NOTES:

Also see our chart showing what vegetables can be frozen.

If your fridge or freezer begins to develop a strong smell, here are some tips on how to get rid of refrigerator and freezer odors.

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