Have you ever come home from a short trip and noticed that the food in your freezer isn’t as fresh as they should be? Your house could have experienced a power outage while you were gone, thawing out the food and refreezing them. Or do you live in an area that experiences plenty of power interruptions, so that you’ve had to throw out the contents of your fridge on more than one occasion?
One woman on Facebook shared a simple yet valuable tip that can help you tell whether or not you have to throw out your food after a power outage, Newsner reports. As of this writing, her post has been shared over 396,000 times and has garnered over 215,000 reactions.
Here’s how you can tell if you have to throw out your food after a power outage:
- Put a cup of water in your freezer.
- After the water is frozen, put a coin on top of it.
- After a power outage (or if you’ve been away from home for a while), check the cup.
- If the coin has fallen to the bottom of your cup, that means your food has gone bad and just refroze. You should throw out your food.
- If the coin is on top or in the middle of the cup, your food could still be fine.
We told you it was simple!
On the next page: which foods you can keep and which you should throw out once they’ve thawed.
Here’s a guide to the food you can keep and the food you should throw out if they’ve been thawed, according to the University of Florida.
Meat, poultry, and food with dairy (e.g. creamed foods, puddings, and cream pies)
These can be refrozen if the temperature in your freezer stays at 40ºF (around 4.4ºC) or below. Check if the color and odor is good, and throw away whatever has signs of spoilage. If any packages have gone above 40ºF, throw them away.
Vegetables, shellfish, and cooked foods
These can be refrozen if you still observe ice crystals or if the freezer temperature stays at 40ºF or bellow. Throw away anything that displays signs of spoilage, as well as items that have have a temperature higher than 40ºF.
Fruits aren’t as damaged as other foods when thawed, and can be refrozen as long as they don’t look spoiled. You can also use thawed fruits in cooking, or to make preserves or jams.
Breads, nuts, and baked goods
These can be refrozen as long as they don’t show signs of mold.
You’d probably want to throw out ice cream after it thaws, even just partially, as its texture is ruined after it thaws. However, if its temperature has gone above 40ºF, you should definitely throw it out as it could be unsafe for consumption.
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