What should be the ideal freezer temperature? Although many of us know this, we sometimes neglect to do the same. As a result, we notice bacterial growth on the food items stored inside.
Keeping the freezer at the right temperature keeps your food fresher for longer. Additionally, it retains the taste and quality of your frozen food.
In this article, we will learn how and why the temperature of the deep freezer matters. We will also know what is the optimum temperature to maintain in a freezer for storing food.
Let us go into the discussion.
Table of Contents
What Temperature Should a Deep Freezer Be To Store Food?
If you want to store your food safely in a freezer, you need to set it to an optimum temperature. When you do it, your food will be free from the growth of bacteria and microorganisms. It will keep your food stay fresh for a longer time. This depicts the significance of maintaining the right temperature in the freezer.
Maintaining the freezer at an ideal temperature is something that we do not suggest. It is a recommendation from the International Institute of Refrigeration and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They recommend storing frozen food at -18° C or below 0°F. We need to adhere to this to slow down the propagation and growth of bacteria and microorganisms.
However, one should always remember that freezing does not kill bacteria. It will only prevent them from growing and keeps your food free from bacteria.
Storing your frozen food at 0°F is absolutely the safe option. Do not forget that it should be only for a certain period. Preserving the food items for a prolonged period will not deteriorate their quality by giving a different taste and food. It will only make the food susceptible to freezer burn. This is why most items come with a prescribed time for storing them in freezers.
What Happens When You Lose Electricity?
If you are storing the food in a freezer with having a temperature of about 0°F (-18°C), you cannot merely say that the stored items are safe. Let us say there is a power cut. During such instances, your appliance can substantially maintain the cold temperature inside for about 48 hours. However, there is a condition to it – you need to keep the door closed.
Let us assume that you kept opening the freezer door repeatedly or the power cut is for more than 48 hours. In either case, the freezer temperature rises above 0°F, and your food will no longer be safely frozen.
How To Check Whether The Deep Freezer Is Set To Correct Temperature Or Not?
Do you want to know if the deep freezer temperature is correctly set? It is very easy. Firstly, set the temperature as per the instructions mentioned in the manual. After twenty-four hours, check the inside to see if it is set correctly. Do not worry! We will provide you with tips that will help you confirm the same. Here are some useful hacks to determine the freezer temperature:
1. It has a Frost-free Surface:
Do you observe lots of frost on the surface of your deep freezer? If yes, it means you have set the temperature lower than the required reading. Hence, your appliance finds it difficult to remove the moisture from it.Sometimes, you may even notice ice scales around the door gaskets. These icy coverings do not let the door close properly, and therefore, air enters the freezer compartment. Consequently, you will even see ice all over the door’s interior.
2. The Ice Cream is Solid:
When it comes to ice cream, the optimal temperature required for scooping falls under the range6°F to 10°F. If you want to store it for a longer time, that temperature may be too high for the ice cream. Hence, the ideal temperature required to store your ice cream is 0°F. As a pro tip, allow your ice cream to warm up a little before you serve it.
3. The Food is Free from Freezer Burn:
Overstuffing your freezer or storing hot food inside it can result in temperature swings. That said,your food may be prone to freezer burn. To avoid the same, you need to allow the food to cool first. After that, you can add the items one by one to the deep freezer. Failing to do this will make the food dry and lose the flavour.
How to Know Precisely What Temperature Your Deep Freezer Is At?
As mentioned earlier, the optimal temperature recommended by FDA for a freezer is 0°F. But the real challenge lies in knowing whether it is in the set reading or not. You may say that you can tell by opening your freezer door and poking at your food. But, does that really help you? Well, I don’t think so. It would not confirm the temperature your deep freezer is set at.
Some basic models or older models of freezers do not come with a built-in thermometer. They only feature a numbered dial to adjust the chill factor. This will not help you determine what the temperature is inside the deep freezer.
Contrary to the above, the newer or advanced freezers come with an integrated thermometer that shows you the exact temperature inside. Besides, it allows you to adjust the temperature as and when needed. This ensures that your appliance always stays below the recommended temperature.
But, here is how you can check the temperature. Irrespective of the type of freezer you have, you should always measure the temperature independently. It is not advisable to rely completely on the thermometer. If it does not work properly, you will not be able to tell the reading inside.
Then, how will we know? Do not worry! We will tell you what you can do.
The safest option is to have a freezer thermometer. You may ask what is this, and is it not the same as the integrated thermometer? And the answer is no. It is not the same as the thermometer that comes in-built with a deep freezers. It is a specifically designed one that is capable of handling very cold temperatures.
Follow these below steps to determine the exact temperature in your deep freezer:
- Take the thermometer and place it precisely in the freezer.
- See to it that the thermometer tip is not touching any of the frozen food items. If it does, it will measure the temperature of the food and not the freezer.
- This is what you can do. Make some space in the center of your freezer compartment by moving the food items.
- This space should be exclusively for putting the thermometer, and it should not touch the surrounding food items.
- Clean this place neatly by giving a quick wipe. This is essential because any traces of ice or debris can impact the results, giving a false output.
- After cleaning, you can just hang the thermometer from the central rack. Or, you can even make it to stand up. But make sure that it does not fall.
- Once you secure the thermometer in its position, close the freezer and let the thermometer acclimatize.
- The thermometer will need 24 hours to give you an accurate temperature reading of the freezer.
- These results are accurate and reliable. You can trust the reading without any second thought.
Why Is Freezing Food at the Optimal Temperature So Important?
Most of the food items are safe to store in the freezer. However, some foods like eggs and canned goods are not recommended. You can freeze the canned foods, provided you remove them from the can.
By now, we must be aware that storing foods at a temperature other than 0°F will spoil them. Let us say the temperature is warmer than 0°F. In such instances, bacteria and microbes will start growing and multiplying. As a result, the food is unsafe to eat and will make you ill after consuming it.
Maintaining the ideal temperature prevents the bacteria and other microorganisms from growing and keeps the food free from them. Furthermore, it will retain the freshness of the food, and also its quality. This is one of the significant advantages of freezing. It locks the nutrients and preserves the food at peak quality. When the freezer does not maintain the temperature that it should do, it will make the food lose its freshness and also, the nutrients.
Another common issue that you are likely to encounter with incorrect freezer temperature is freezer burn. This usually occurs when the food is not properly protected like the packaging is not airtight and the items squash against the frost present in the freezer. This results in freezer burn.
You do not have to panic, as food with freezer burn is not dangerous to health. You can still consume it without any side effects. But the only concern is that freezer burn makes the food dry, tough, and leathery to consume. We advise you to cut the bits of the food items that have the freezer burn and cook them properly. In worst cases, you may have to discard the complete food item.
I hope these reasons, cited above, explain why the temperature in the freezer matters. You need to be watchful with the reading. Keep checking regularly to ensure that the temperature in your appliance is within the ideal range.
Can Your Deep Freezer Be Too Cold?
You can set low temperatures in your deep freezer. Although it will not have any negative impact on your food, it may likely increase your electricity bills. Lower temperatures are advisable only when adding new food items for fast freezing. If you want to retain the taste and maintain the texture, fast freezing is a great option. It allows the food to stay fresher and new for a long time.
When Should You Adjust The Deep Freezer Temperature?
The outside temperature can have an impact on the temperature inside the deep freezer. Accordingly, you will have to adjust the freezer temperature. Let us say your appliance is in a basement or garage. You need to adjust the temperature of the freezer according to the outside temperature or humidity. You can make small changes and allow the freezer at least 24 hours to reflect those changes.
Where Are The Deep Freezer Temperature Controls?
The deep freezer temperature controls are nothing but the control settings to change or adjust the temperature. If your appliance is a standalone device, you may find these temperature controls on the inner sides of the freezer or at the top center. Some refrigerator models come with separate control panels for fridge and freezer compartments, while a few more have a shared control panel. In either case, you will find the controls on the inner sides, or the door, or at the top center of either compartment.
The temperature controls may vary from model to model. While some freezers have the temperature readings on the panel, others have numbers for temperature ranges. You may have to press the arrow keys up and down or turn the dial. You will have all the instructions mentioned in the user manual, and you can refer to it for the same.
Does a Colder Temperature Mean More Freezer Burn?
Not really. As we have seen earlier, freezer burn occurs only when the food is not properly protected or gets exposed to the air or frost. It is not merely because of excessive chill inside the freezer. To prevent the same, you need to ensure that the food is airtight before storing it. Also, see to it that it does not squash against the frost. This protects the food from getting susceptible to freezer burn and further losing its taste and texture.
A: The ideal freezer temperature as recommended by FDA is 0°F. This keeps your food stay fresh and safe for a long time.
A: All deep freezers, irrespective of their types, should maintain a standard temperature of 0°F. This is an optimal temperature for all freezers, including a chest freezer.
A: The best way to monitor or check your freezer temperature is by placing a freezer thermometer inside the compartment. It gives you the exact temperature reading and is a trustworthy option.
A: No. It is not possible to note down the freezer temperature the moment you want to. You will need at least 24 hours for your freezer thermometer to acclimatize and give accurate readings. The other possible benefit of using a freezer thermometer is during the power cut. When the power restores, you can check the thermometer to ensure if the food inside the freezer is cold enough or you need to discard it.
A: Theoretically speaking, you can store the food frozen without affecting its nutrients. However, you need to remember that the longer you allow the food to stay frozen inside the freezer, the higher are chances for it to dry out or lose its flavour.
Therefore, the FDA recommends the limits for storing different types of frozen food. That said, these limits are to ensure the food quality and not safety.
A: In case of a power cut, you may or may not have to discard the items completely. It is entirely dependent on the freezer. If your appliance was able to maintain the correct freezer temperature when there was an electricity loss, you do not have to throw the items away. If in any case, your freezer failed to maintain the required temperature you may have to discard the items.
To let your deep freezer maintain the right temperature, we suggest you not open the door and keep checking on your food. You may feel tempted to do this, but it is not advisable to do it. The best practice to follow is to keep the door closed until the power comes back. This is the best way you can preserve your food!
Once the power restores, check for the readings on your freezer thermometer. If the temperature is 40°F or lower, you can happily store the food inside the freezer. Don’t you have a food thermometer? Do not worry! Check if you observe any ice crystals in the food. If you notice any, you can refreeze your food item without any doubt.
Maintaining the right temperature in the freezer matters, especially when you want your frozen food to be safe. Setting your freezer to the optimal temperature preserves your food and keeps it fresher for a longer time. Furthermore, it will also retain its taste and quality. When was the last time you checked your freezer temperature? If you have not done it before, do it right away. Else, you may notice mould or bacteria growth in it and may end up throwing them away.
You can see whether your freezer is set to the right temperature or not with the help of this article. Follow the instructions mentioned in this write-up to ensure your appliance is operating at an ideal temperature. Let us know your experiences by sharing them in the comments section below.
Should you have any questions or need more information, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Also, please feel free to share your inputs with us and let us know if we missed out on any points. We welcome your suggestions on this article.
Stay healthy and stay safe!!!