With all the people being impacted by the awful series of Hurricanes, storms and other disasters right now, we know that one of the key concerns is keeping food safe that requires freezing or refrigeration, should you lose power.
A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours; 24 hours if it’s only half full, since packing frozen foods close together create a protective igloo effect. (A fridge will only keep food cold for about four hours, and that’s if the door is kept closed. So keep it closed!)
So if you have lost power, the first thing you want to do is determine if whether food has thawed or not in the first place.
A friend (thank you Michael!) just shared this smart, very simple hack with me, and having lived through multiple blackouts in NYC as well as Hurricane Sandy, I wish I had known it earlier.
Related: What’s the difference between “best by,” “use by,” and “sell by” on your food? You may be surprised by the answers.
How to know if your food has thawed and refrozen
1. Grab a paper cup and fill it with water
2. Pop it in the freezer until the water is frozen solid.
3. After it freezes, place a coin on top of the ice.
4. If your power has gone off at some point, then on again, check on the penny. If it is still on top or near the top of the ice in the cup, you’re in good shape. But if it’s embedded lower down in the ice or at the bottom, it’s an indication that the other items in your freezer completely thawed before freezing again.
If this is the case, you likely need to toss your frozen foods. But…not necessarily all of them.
What foods can you safely eat after losing power?
Take a look at this chart from the FDA about which frozen foods you can safely eat after losing power. TL;DR: Most need to be tossed. But there are a few exceptions.
If food has remained above 40-degrees for more than two hours after thawing, the FDA suggests that you can still safely refreeze and eat hard cheeses, frozen fruit juice and fruit (with a few conditions), and frozen bread, rolls, and breakfast items.
And be sure to check the site for their other tips to make sure you don’t eat anything you shouldn’t. Especially when it comes to kids.
Hey, I know how much it totally sucks to have to toss meat, eggs, and other expensive foods. But at all times, I ascribe to the motto, “if in doubt, throw it out.”
We just want all of you safe through any hurricane or disaster — but once it’s over, we want to help keep you safe then too.