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How Long Can I Store Food in the Freezer?

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Man looking in freezer, face obscured by door, side view
Henrik Weis/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Freezing food is one of the easiest forms of food preservation. But how long can you leave food in the freezer before it isn't good anymore?

The following lists will give you clear instructions for how long each type of food can be stored in the freezer before its quality starts to decline (think freezer burn). All of these times assume that you froze your food well-wrapped or in freezer containers or bags.

Note that these times only refer to how long your frozen food will still be of excellent quality when you finally get around to eating it: It's not a safety issue. Frozen food will safely keep in the freezer indefinitely. But its flavor and texture will be vastly better if you stick to these maximum storage times.

The links will take you to instructions for the best way to freeze each particular food (chopped, blanched, single layer freeze, etc.).

VEGETABLES

Some vegetables, especially leafy greens, need to be blanched before they are frozen.

Commercially Frozen Vegetables 1 year stored in original package
Asparagus 1 year

Avocado 5 months

Beets 1 year
Bell & Sweet Peppers; Chile Peppers 3 to 4 months
Broccoli 1 year
Carrots 1 year
Cauliflower 1 year
Celery 1 year
Corn 8 months
Green or Wax Beans 1 year
Leafy Greens 8 months
Okra 8 months
Peas 8 months
Tomatoes 3 to 4 months
Winter Squash & Pumpkin, cooked 1 year
Zucchini & Summer Squash 8 months

MUSHROOMS

Cooked mushrooms 1 year
Raw mushrooms 8 months
Note: Not all mushrooms freeze well raw. A few of the drier ones such as hen of the woods a.k.a. maitake do, but fungi with a higher moisture content are better sauteed before freezing.

 

FRUIT

Commercially Frozen 1 year
Apples 4 months
Apricots 6 months
Bananas 8 months
Berries 6 months
Cherries 6 months
Cranberries 1 year
Peaches 4 months
Fruit Juices 1 year

 

NUTS

Nuts 2 years

MEAT

Bacon & Pancetta 3 months
Chops 6 months
Ground Meats incl. Hamburger 4 months
Ham 2 months
Organ Meats (Liver, Kidneys, etc.) 4 months
Roasts 1 year
Sausage 3 months
Steaks 8 months

POULTRY

Chicken, Turkey, Duck, etc.

Poultry, whole bird 1 year
Poultry, raw pieces 9 months
Poultry Giblets 4 months
Poultry, cooked 4 months

SEAFOOD

Fatty Fish (bluefish, mackerel, salmon) 3 months
Lean or White Fish (cod, flounder, haddock, sole) 6 months
Crab, cooked 2 months
Crab, raw/live 3 months
Crayfish, raw 4 months
Lobster, cooked 2 months
Lobster, raw/live 3 months
Shellfish, cooked 3 months
Shrimp, raw 4 months
Squid, Octopus, Calamari, raw 4 months

SOUP STOCKS

Vegetable, Meat & Poultry Stock 6 months
Fish Stock 4 months

BEANS AND GRAINS

Beans, soaked but not cooked 4 months
Beans, cooked 6 months
Rice and Other Grains, cooked 4 months

DAIRY

Butter 9 months
Ice Cream, Sorbets 2 months

In theory other kinds of dairy can be frozen, but ice cream and butter are the only ones that emerge from the freezer with their textures intact.

LEFTOVERS

Casseroles & Lasagna 4 months
Chili 6 months
Soups, Stews & Chowders 6 months

BREADS & BAKED GOODS

Bread 3 months
Cookie Dough 6 months
Muffins & Quick Breads 2 months
Pancakes & Waffles 1 month
Tortillas 3 months

PESTOS & OILS

Herbal Oils 8 months
Pesto WITHOUT Cheese 8 months
Pesto WITH Cheese 3 months

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