Ack! Freezer was left open!
Posted 02 August 2011 - 05:52 AM
Most of the stuff in it was not thawed, but some definitely was. The things in the door - frozen berries and ice packs - were the worst. The berries were thawed, but not warm. There were chunks of ice in the middle of some of them. Some of the ice packs (those white things filled with some sort of gel that you get when you order seafood or other things that are shipped frozen) were starting to thaw.
In the freezer itself, the worst hit was the stuff right by the door. Packages of fresh sausages were thawed, but still cold. Same with some of the stocks - they were somewhat liquidy, but not totally thaw, and not warm.
The stuff farther in, towards the back of the freezer, was still thoroughly frozen.
We closed up the freezer and it's coming back. It's old, so not especially efficient. But what do we do with the stuff? Does everything get tossed? Toss the stuff that thawed? I realize that thawing and refreezing may affect the texture, but I can live with that. I want to know if this stuff is unsafe.
Consulting Modernist Cuisine, almost all food born bacteria doesn't reach the danger zone where it multiplies rapidly until it hits 80 degrees or so, and even then it takes 15-20 hours to really start getting bad. It never got anywhere near that - I'm going to estimate 45 or 50 for a few hours at the most.
I'm thinking that the stuff that's still frozen is safe. Non-meat stuff that thawed, I'll either toss or (in the case of the blueberries) make a pie today or tomorrow. Meat that thawed that will not be thoroughly cooked, like steaks, I'll throw. But what of the stuff that *will* be cooked thoroughly, like the sausages? God I hate to lose them... but at the same time, I don't want to get sick!
What about stocks? They'll definitely be cooked thoroughly if used.
<sigh> So depressing...
Posted 02 August 2011 - 05:57 AM
Posted 02 August 2011 - 06:18 AM
Anything that you have the least bit of doubt about, throw it away.
I'm looking for something a little more fact-based than this; I can doubt a whole lot, but my doubts have very little basis in fact. It'd be really easy to throw away every last bit of food in the freezer because obviously it's been compromised, but I'd like to at least have some proof that it's necessary before doing so.
Posted 02 August 2011 - 06:28 AM
I'm not sure that it would be necessary to toss the steaks, as long as they are still below 40 F, but use your own judgement on that. If it were me, I'd probably cook the steaks up and refreeze, or cut them into strips or chunks and cook and refreeze for ingredients, or something like that.
Another thing you might want to do, which I have found helpful after experiencing this myself a few times, is to get both a freezer thermometer with an alarm, such as this one, which I LOVE. I also got a child-safety strap for the door of the freezer at Target.
Edited to add: If you have pressure canning equipment, or can borrow some, it might be a good time to can those stocks. Once I started canning stocks, I had a bunch of room left in the freezer that I could put to use for more expensive items. You could also pressure can the meats, if you choose to use them as ingredients, rather than keeping them for their original purpose.
Edited by thock, 02 August 2011 - 06:31 AM.
Lenexa, KS, USA
Posted 02 August 2011 - 07:53 AM
Posted 02 August 2011 - 08:08 AM
The steaks are probably one of the safest items, because of their lack of processing they tend to not be contaminated like ground beef. That said, refreezing will affect the texture. Remember, each time you freeze, ice crystals form and they cut up cell structures like little knives. Thawing and refreezing creates new crystals in slightly different places that damage the meat further. Eat as much of these as possible, thawed, now.
Any meat you refreeze will have a much greater tendency towards freezer burn, as there will be more water released from damaged cells. Even things like sausage won't be as good refrozen. I'd take a look at making foods that you can freeze once cooked from some of those meats, as suggested above. (stew, cassoulet, etc.)
Refreezing delicate items with (formerly) intact cell walls repeatedly will just turn them into soupy mush -berries especially. The berries are fine and safe to eat, just know that they will be very soupy when thawed and might be better in a sorbet, smoothie, jam or pie.
The stock should be fine, maybe you'd want to heat it through before refreezing.
In a restaurant, you have a 4 hour window to get room temperature food into the walk-in (fridge) and since this stuff started out frozen and stayed cold, I think that you're ok from a safety standpoint.
Edited by Lisa Shock, 02 August 2011 - 08:23 AM.
Posted 02 August 2011 - 08:28 AM
I'd just eat whatever thawed right away.
Posted 02 August 2011 - 08:32 AM
I'd worry most about the sausages. But why not cook them up in some sauce and then freeze the sauce?
Posted 02 August 2011 - 11:24 AM
Like others have said, quality suffers, but if the stuff was fridge temperature when you caught it, you are ok to refreeze. Mark the stuff that was thawed and use it as soon as you can.
Posted 02 August 2011 - 01:25 PM
If yours doesn't have a lock, glue a wide Velcro strap to the DOOR and the base or hook portion on the side. (I did this long ago with a fridge to keep my dogs from opening it.)
The strap hanging down will remind you to close and secure the door. This is an inexpensive and easy way to save your food and your money.
Edited by andiesenji, 02 August 2011 - 01:25 PM.
Posted 02 August 2011 - 03:16 PM
Posted 02 August 2011 - 04:14 PM
If you want, you can calibrate your sense of cold as in 'cold to the touch' by checking temp of your fridge and how those things feel.
Think of it as an excuse to eat a lot of stuff that would otherwise sit in the freezer.