State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500602
When Your Freezer Stops Working
If you know in advance that your power will be cut off, set your
freezer for -10 to -20 degrees F, so it can get as cold as possible
before the power is turned off.
1. Keep the freezer closed. Opening the door will hasten the thawing of
2. Cover the freezer with blankets or quilts for insulation to help
hold the cold inside. For more insulation, put crumpled newspaper
between the freezer cabinet and blankets. Pin the blankets away from
the air vent. The air vent must be kept open since air is needed when
the freezer comes back on.
If the power does not resume within one to two days, or if A mechanical
problem hasn't been found, use dry ice to keep the freezer temperatures
below freezing and to prevent deterioration or spoilage of frozen
foods. Dry ice may be hard to locate on short notice. Locating where
dry ice can be purchased and how much may save time and aggravation.
-- 25 pounds of dry ice in a 10 cubic foot freezer.
-- Use 50 pounds of dry ice in a 20 cubic foot freezer.
Make sure dry ice is used in a well ventilated room. Dry ice melts to
form Carbon Dioxide gas. If Carbon Dioxide gas replaces too much of the
oxygen in the air it is dangerous to your health. Always wear gloves
when handling dry ice to prevent burns. Wrap the dry ice in newspaper
and place it on boards or heavy cardboard on top of the packages. Do
not open the freezer again unless necessary. Dry ice should hold the
freezer temperature below freezing for two to three days in a half-full
freezer and three to four days in a loaded freezer.
How long food will stay frozen depends on four factors:
1. The amount of food in the freezer. A fully loaded freezer will stay
cold longer than one that is partially full.
2. The type of frozen food. A freezer full of meats will stay frozen
longer than one packed with fruits,vegetables or baked goods.
3. The temperature of the food. The colder you run your freezer, the
colder the food; the colder the food, the longer it will stay frozen.
4. The insulating ability of the freezer. A well- insulated freezer
will keep food frozen longer than one with little insulation.
Use your senses to determine whether a food can safely be
refrozen. Examine the food closely.
Are the contents:
--thawed and at room temperature? Throw them out!
--thawed but at refrigerator temperature?
Does the food have:
--an off odor?
--a color change?
--apparent mold or bacteria growing on the surface?
The general rule of thumb is if a food is safe to eat, it is safe to
refreeze. Foods which are still partially frozen or have thawed but are
still cold to the touch (40 degrees or lower) can safely be refrozen.
Eating quality may be slightly affected. Mark those packages which have
thawed and been refrozen, and use them as soon as possible.
If you have a great deal of food to refreeze, have a commercial food
locker plant freeze it. This method will ensure that foods are refrozen
quickly and solidly for minimal loss of quality.
To refreeze small amounts of food at home, set the freezer temperature
control to its coldest setting. This temperature will refreeze thawed
foods quickly and prevent quality loss. Arrange foods so that cold air
can circulate freely around them. When all foods are solidly frozen,
return the temperature setting to normal. Use refrozen foods as soon as
Examine the meat carefully. Color changes or off- odors may mean
spoilage. Refreeze only packages that still contain ice crystals or are
cold to the touch. Repackage meats in moisture-vapor proof wrap before
refreezing. Discard any meat that is at room temperature. Ground meats
are particularly susceptible to spoilage due to the large amount of
surface area. Immediately refreeze only those packages that are still
solidly frozen. If packages are thawed but still cold to the touch,
immediately cook the meat or cook and refreeze. Discard ground meat
that is thawed to room temperature. Discard ground meat (frozen
or thawed) that shows signs of spoilage (such as off colors or bad
Safely refreeze cured meats that are still cold to the touch (40
degrees or less). Discard any packages that shows spoilage. To be
safely refrozen, poultry must be partially frozen and still contain ice
crystals. If poultry is thawed but still cold to the touch, cook and
consume immediately, or cook and refreeze.
Repackage poultry in moisture-vapor proof wrap before refreezing. Do
not remove original wrapping first. This will prevent contaminating
other foods with poultry juices. Discard poultry that is thawed to room
temperature. If thawed poultry drippings have contaminated other foods,
handle these foods as you would thawed poultry.
Do not refreeze fish unless it is still solidly frozen. If thawed fish
is still cold to the touch (40 degrees or less) cook and consume
immediately. Discard fish that has thawed to room temperature.
Refreeze thawed fruits that smell and taste good. Thawed fruits may be
used in cooking or making jams, jellies, and preserves.
Refreeze vegetables that contain ice crystals. If completely thawed but
in good condition, cook vegetables and consume or cook and refreeze.
Do not refreeze thawed baked goods, since the quality of the product
will be poor. If the product is only partially thawed and still
contains ice crystals, it may safely be refrozen even though the
quality may suffer.
Store thawed baked goods in the refrigerator to keep them fresh until
they are consumed. Use within a few days.
Refreeze frozen prepared food only if ice crystals are still present.
If foods are completely thawed but 40 degrees or less, cook and consume
immediately. Discard prepared foods that are in poor condition.
Juices, shake the can, if the contents are totally thawed, reconstitute
the juice and use. If the juice pulp is still frozen, refreeze.
Do not refreeze thawed ice cream.
Do not refreeze thawed cheese since the eating quality will be poor.
Refrigerate the cheese and use as soon as possible.
This information comes from Michigan State University Extension
bulletin E-1735, When the Freezer Stops Working.
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This information is for
educational purposes only. References to commercial products or trade
names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those
not mentioned. This information becomes public property upon
publication and may be printed verbatim with credit to MSU Extension.
Reprinting cannot be used to endorse or advertise a commercial product
MSU is an
employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials
are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender,
gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political
beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran
status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and
June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This
information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial
products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or
bias against those not mentioned.
information.was reviewed as
of June 2008. For more information about the contents please
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