Keeping frozen foods at their best

Chicken that has been cut into parts can be stored in the freezer for up to nine months.
Chicken that has been cut into parts can be stored in the freezer for up to nine months.PHOTO: SBY FROZEN FOOD SUPPLY

I have a batch of Seville oranges in my freezer. They have been there for months, waiting for me to turn them into jam.

But they will not keep forever.

Even frozen foods have a shelf life when it comes to taste and quality, which can be as short as one to two months for bacon and ham.

Freezing does keep food safe for a long time, but using it up quickly will ensure taste and texture.

Some items might not look picture-perfect, but they could still be all right for soups or stews.

Generally, raw meat keeps longer than cooked meat does because moisture is lost during cooking.

A whole chicken, for example, can be kept frozen for up to 12 months. If cut up, the parts can be stored for up to nine months.

Frozen soups or stews, in contrast, should be used up within two to three months.

At all times, you should wrap your food items properly, to ensure quality and prevent freezer burn.

I do freeze meats in their original packaging, but you can help prevent air from entering by adding another layer of cling wrap.

Proper packaging maintains quality. Unopened vacuum packages can be frozen as they are.

Ideally, freezer burn should be avoided, but it does not make food unsafe, merely dry in some spots.

It is caused by air coming into contact with the food surface. Just remove the affected spots.

And yes, you need to freeze quickly: Do check that your freezer is set to at least minus 23 deg C if you are freezing food, or minus 18 deg C if the food is already frozen.

Sylvia Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2016, with the headline 'Keeping frozen foods at their best'. Print Edition | Subscribe