How to Tell if Your Freezer Went Out While You Weren’t Home: the Frozen Quarter Trick

The frozen quarter trick helps assess whether a freezer's contents are safe after a power outage. It involves freezing a glass of water, placing a coin on top, and checking its position upon return. If the coin has sunk, the power was out, and some foods may need discarding. A full freezer can stay frozen for 48 hours; perishable foods that thaw to room temperature should be thrown away.

By Cookist
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Freezers are invaluable appliances for preserving food, allowing us to store perishable items for extended periods or have meals ready when we're too tired to cook from scratch. However, freezers can be vulnerable in power outages caused by storms or energy shortages, potentially leading to significant food loss. So, how can you ensure your freezer's contents stay safe while you're away? Enter the frozen quarter trick.

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What is The Frozen Quarter Trick? And How Do I Do It?

The frozen quarter trick is a simple yet effective method to check whether a power outage has affected your freezer's contents. To execute the trick, fill a glass with water and freeze it. Before leaving, place a coin on the frozen surface. Upon returning, check the position of the coin. If it has sunk into the ice, it indicates that the power went out during your absence, causing the ice to melt partially before refreezing. This provides a quick and clear indication of whether the freezer lost power, helping you determine the safety of the food inside.

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How Long Can a Freezer Be Out Before Food Spoils?

A full freezer can keep food safely frozen for approximately 48 hours without power, while a half-full freezer can maintain its temperature for about 24 hours. To extend this time, keep the freezer door closed to retain as much cold air as possible.

What Thawed Food Can Be Salvaged?

Certain foods can be refrozen safely if they have thawed but remained below 4°C (39°F). These include unopened frozen fruits, vegetables, and certain baked goods. However, perishable items like meats, seafood, and dairy products that have thawed entirely and reached room temperature should be to avoid the risk of foodborne illness.

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