When working around food it’s essential to know how to store them properly and why it should be done in such a manner. Serving food that has been improperly stored will contain germs, and bacteria and can even cause food poisoning so always be sure that your food is frozen right.
Also, when the foods aren’t frozen properly as you thought they are, they will spoil which will lead to food waste and that is always money away from your business. So how cold should a freezer be that will make sure your food is properly stored?
According to FDA, the ideal restaurant freezer temperature is 0° F (-18° C). When the temperature is correct, it will prevent new bacteria from forming which will keep the food safe. The best way to keep on track of the temperatures at all times is through appliance thermometers.
There is so much more to know about proper food freezing than the ideal temperature such as how to clean it properly. Let’s take a closer look at the subject so you can fully understand the reasons behind that.
- Why Is 0° F The Ideal Temperature
- What Happens If Food Is Not Stored Properly
- How To Change Freezer Temperature
- How Does Freezing Affect Food
- How Long Can You Freeze Food
- Can You Freeze Foods That Says Do Not Freeze
- What Temperature Is Too Cold For A Freezer
- Freezing Techniques Used In The Food Industry
- Recommended Products For Freezer Use
Why Is 0° F The Ideal Temperature
The reason why 0° F (-18° C) is the best temperature for freezing is determined by a couple of reasons. Let’s review the reasons.
First, food that is stored at 0° F will remain safe because it won’t let any bacteria grow on the food, therefore it won’t get spoiled. However, this doesn’t kill the already existing bacteria but will put them to sleep in a way.
Second, this specific temperature will keep food safe forever but that doesn’t mean that the quality won’t get affected. The texture, flavor, color, and everything else will get affected if you keep foods frozen for years. They will be safe to eat nonetheless.
Remember to keep an eye on the Appliance Thermometer regularly so there won’t be a time that you don’t know how long the temperature has been off and everything inside would be spoiled potentially costing thousands of dollars.
What Happens If Food Is Not Stored Properly
If the food isn’t properly frozen and the air gets too warm, it opens a door for salmonella, mold, and bacteria that could affect sickness which would be catastrophic for the restaurant’s reputation if a customer would get sick. Salmonella especially.
Examine the chart below and see how drastically hours and even minutes can change the safety of poorly stored food, and how the bacteria can multiply itself.
As we can see, even when the bacteria have funny faces doesn’t change the fact that the food will contaminate at such fast rates that keeping the freezer at 0° F (-18° C) will be more than advisable, it’s a necessity.
If you notice that your freezer isn’t at the ideal temperature, it’s important that you change the temperature to the correct one so your food will be safe and properly frozen.
How To Change Freezer Temperature
The steps on how to exactly do this will vary depending on the freezer model and you should look at the freezer’s instruction manual. However, usually, the freezer’s control panel is located in the right upper corner where you can set the correct temperature by first pressing the snowflake icon and then selecting the right one by pressing the arrow buttons. Make sure to double-check this step.
How Does Freezing Affect Food
Freezing has a lot of different effects on food especially if you keep it frozen for a long time. A couple of weeks of freezing won’t do much harm but the freshness that a recently cooked food haves, won’t just be the same after freezing. Let’s see the aspects that freezing can affect.
- Texture can greatly change after freezing. This is caused when the water molecules in the food get frozen and expand. When the food is unfrozen it will be much softer than it previously was.
- Flavors can also be affected when the food is frozen. The main change to the taste isn’t that the flavor will be different but rather diluted and diminished.
- Juiciness will be affected especially in meats. When the meat is thawed, some of the water molecules that were previously part of the meat will get thawed with the ice, therefore it will be less juicy.
- The color will be more or less different after freezing. Again, especially in red meats, the color will be more grey, dark or pale brown. This may be caused by the lack of oxygen in the freezer.
Despite how that might sound the food is still as safe to eat as before freezing. Now, the popular myth about frozen food is that it will lose much nutritional value when thawed, however, that’s not the case at all and the food still haves all the nutritional value after freezing.
How Long Can You Freeze Food
Even when food is safe after freezing and has the nutrition and vitamins still intact, there are limits to everything as you can imagine a piece of food might not be pleasant to eat after centuries of freezing… Let’s see the chart below when it would be best to use frozen food and not exceed the advice limits. I have included a couple of examples below.
Keep in mind that these are the times that the food is still fresh and pleasant to eat, greatly exceeding these time limits doesn’t mean that the food is unsafe to eat, however, the taste and texture might change too much so nobody wouldn’t want to eat them.
Can You Freeze Foods That Says Do Not Freeze
You can freeze foods that say do not freeze, because it doesen’t indicate that it’s unsafe rather than the texture of the food. Food such as cucumber, eggs, canned foods, and other foods with high water content will lose their texture and make them unpleasant to eat.
What Temperature Is Too Cold For A Freezer
In this article, we have talked about the optimal freezer temperature, what happens if the temperatures get below 0° F and what too much time in the freezer will do, but can there be a too cold freezer? Yes! A freezer can totally be too cold and whether the optimal temperature is 0° F, the temperatures shouldn’t go lower than -20° F.
If the freezer is constantly set at -20° F, the risk for ice and frost build-ups will greatly rise, therefore thawing will take much longer and the freezing effects will be greater. Keep your freezer at the optimal 0° F and your food will be safe at the most relaxed temperature possible.
Freezing Techniques Used In The Food Industry
There are many different tips and tricks that restaurants use in order to chill the hot foods faster and some freezing techniques that are really smart. Let’s see the best of them!
1. Industrial Freezer
Industrial freezers are commonly used appliances that are more powerful than traditional freezers. The working principle of industrial freezers is that it absorbs heat around the hot food and blows it straight out so there will be heat for the minimum amount of time.
2. LNF Freezing
Liquid nitrogen freezing is a powerful freezing method that is mainly used in seafood factories and food centers. LNF freezers can fully freeze fish and other seafood in a matter of minutes!
3. Right Containers
A big mistake that could be taken place is to fill the containers to the limit and then freeze, especially with large quantities. When the food freezes, the water molecules expand, and therefore if the food is in a really tight space, it could result in a messy explosion.
4. Cooling Foods Before Freezing
This is really important to do before placing the hot food in the freezer. Restaurants usually use coolers for this purpose because if you put a big batch of food in the freezer straight from the hot pot, the freezer would drastically drop its temperature and could potentially ruin everything inside it. Believe I’ve seen it and it’s a lot of good food gone to waste.
Recommended Products For Freezer Use
There are a couple of useful products that help the freezing process greatly in a commercial kitchen. I love to use an Appliance Thermometer for monitoring the right temperature that should always be 0° F (-18° C).
If you’re not familiar with a vacuum sealer, it will suck all the air from the sealed bag which ensures that the food can last fresh up to 5x longer and it will also save A LOT of space from the freezer without any need for containers! I highly recommend using one if not already.
If there is one thing that you should remember from this article is that always keep your restaurant’s freezer at 0° F (-18° C) or at least don’t go any warmer because that’s when the bacteria attack will start and as we saw in the first chart, it isn’t something to joke around with.
There isn’t much more to keeping food properly frozen and safe so keep an eye on the temperature and you will be more than fine!