Making the most of your freezer
For both financial and health reasons, many of us are adjusting the way we prepare food - to make stocks stretch a little further and move away from pre-packaged goods. Making the most out of our freezers can help a lot.
You can choose to add freezer cover onto your home insurance to cover damage to food caused by a rise or fall in temperature. However, to get the most out of your freezer, it also helps to know what it's capable of and how it should be used.
What does the freezer star rating mean?
The following star rating system is applied to all freezers sold in the UK.
**** means your freezer works below -18°C.
It will freeze fresh food and can store all food for 3-12 months.
*** means your freezer works between -12°C and -18°C.
It can store pre-frozen food for 3-12 months.
** means your freezer works to -12°C.
It can store pre-frozen food for up to one month.
* means your freezer is working around -6°C.
It can store pre-frozen food for up to one week.
Freezers with three or fewer stars cannot extend the life of fresh food, which should be frozen below -18°C
What does the letter rating mean?
More recently, all freezers have been given scores by the European Union, depending on how efficiently they use energy. This is
particularly important, because a freezer is left permanently switched on and it operates 24 hours a day. Apart from central heating,
the freezer is likely to be the single biggest drain on energy in your home.
These scores run from A (the most energy efficient) through B and C, right down to G if your freezer uses large amounts of energy. More recently they have added A+ and A++ since newer freezers and combined fridge-freezers are much more energy efficient than their predecessors. The newer grades represent particularly significant improvements, with A+ being 25% more energy-efficient than A, and A++ being around 40% more efficient than A.
A new freezer should also come with typical yearly kWh usage, to give you a sense of how much you'll spend on it annually.
If in doubt, look for the Energy Saving Recommended logo before you purchase a new freezer.
Money-saving tips for using your freezer
- Package up your food carefully, making sure the wrapping is airtight, to avoid 'freezer burn', where moisture escapes and the food becomes dehydrated. Most problems with food in correctly working freezers can be solved by better packing.
- If you're freezing a 'soft' product, such as soup, stew or cooked beans, put a plastic freezer bag into a bowl, pour in the food, seal tightly and place the bowl into the freezer for two hours to freeze. Then remove the bowl, leaving a perfect bowl-shaped bag of frozen food.
- Particularly if you're filling your freezer, label everything carefully, including dates. It's easy to get confused by piles of identical frozen bags.
- Leave the embellishments until you defrost. Add herbs, spices, or cream to dishes when you've reheated them. Don't ice cakes or buns until their defrosted.
- Never freeze food that's still warm - let it cool completely first.
- Some foods just don't freeze properly. Steer clear of fresh greens like cabbage, lettuce, parsley, cress and cucumber. Cooked egg and dairy-heavy sauces such as custard won't freeze either. Avoid trying to freeze fried foods and cooked rice or pasta.
- If your freezer is usually less than half full, you will probably spend less on energy if you replaced it with a smaller one.