How to Salvage Old Frozen Food

If you’ve got some old or damaged frozen food to deal with, don’t just throw it away. You can probably still get some use out of it.

Have you been straightening up the frozen food in the deep freeze and realized, to your dismay, that some of the packages down at the bottom date from the last presidential administration? With the best of intentions, you stashed them away for the perfect occasion… which never came.

And then there are the packages that somehow weren’t as well-wrapped as you thought, so now the contents are freezer-burned and awful-looking. Who wants to put that in their mouth? In both instances, there’s nothing to do but throw the ruined food away… right?

Not necessarily.

Is It Edible?

As nasty as it looks, freezer burn doesn’t spoil food or make it dangerous in any way. All it does is cause dry and discolored spots, so the food’s still edible — assuming it’s less than a year old. Anything older than that isn’t really safe for human consumption.

It’s possible to prepare freezer-burned food so that the damage isn’t obvious; in stews or soups, for example. The “burn” shouldn’t affect the taste much, if any. And of course, you can always cut away the burned spots before you prepare it.

If you’re unwilling to eat freezer-burned meat, your dog certainly won’t mind, even if it’s a little dry or funny looking–as long as it’s meat. You can even cook it for them, if you like. Your cat may be a tad finicky, but may relent if you cut the meat into little bits for them.

Other Options

You should certainly dispose of meat products that are older than one year old. However, the same isn’t necessarily true for produce. If nothing else, you can toss that on the compost heap.

All you need to do is work it into the heap as it thaws, and it’ll just become another nitrogen-rich component. In the end, you’ll get some dark, rich compost that your garden plants will love–so you’ll have gotten a bit of use out of that produce.

Here’s a wacky use that I’ve tried personally, and it’s surprisingly handy. If you’ve got a bag of small frozen vegetables on hand (I prefer peas and carrots), you can use it as an ice pack to treat pains and sprains. When you’re done, just rinse it off and throw it back in the freezer to freeze solid again.

A Penny Saved

I’ll be the first to admit that some of these ideas are a little odd. But given how much everything costs these days, I think it’s best to get a little use out of your damaged or forgotten frozen food, instead of just throwing it away.