Freezer burn is a ‘thing’ and other facts about that very cold box in the kitchen

Image: 7 freezer facts they probably didn’t teach you in Home Economics

If your freezer sits neglected and stuffed with old, forgotten food and growing a thick coating of frost, you’re missing out big time on one of the handiest things in your house. Freezers, when used efficiently, will save you money and buy you time. So it’s worth knowing how best to use it. Here’s some handy stuff you might not know.

1. Your freezer works best when full so pack ‘em in

The more stuff in your freezer, the less hard your freezer has to work to keep everything cold. Items of frozen food take care of themselves, to some degree, by insulating each other, so it’s the space between food that requires the extra effort. Energy comparison website advises filling any temporary gaps with bottles of chilled water (leaving a gap for expansion) until you can add more food.

2. There is such as a thing as your freezer being ‘too cold’

-18˚C is your freezer sweet spot when it comes to optimum temperature, according to the FSA. Anything colder than that and you’re wasting energy (and money). Check the temperature dial regularly as you might need to adjust it depending on the time of the year.  

3. If possible, your freezer should sit away from the wall

Your freezer will work best if there’s some room for air to circulate around it, so try not to push it right back against a wall ­– a gap of around 10cm (4 inches) should do the trick.

4. ‘Freezer burn’ is a thing

Somehow, wrapping up food for the freezer feels less important than doing it for the fridge. But actually, it’s vital. Exposed food in the freezer runs the risk of freezer burn – when food is damaged by dehydration and oxidation due to being exposed to the air. The result is hard, pale and, quite frankly, highly unappetising food. Make sure everything’s wrapped up securely - freezer bags do the trick nicely.

5. Bigger isn’t always better

If you’re living on your own or with one other person, monster-sized freezers aren’t really necessary. Save a bit of cash by getting an appliance no bigger than you need with the best energy rating you can find. Energy ratings go from A+++ to G, with A+++ being the most efficient (the more pluses, the more energy efficient, in all ratings) and G the least. Not only will you be saving a bit of money, you’re also helping save the planet. Win.

6. Your freezer likes warm surroundings

You might think that the colder the surroundings, the less work the freezer has to do. But au contraire, keeping the freezer in a cold space such as the garage runs the risk of it conking out altogether. Nowadays, most freezers are designed to work in ambient temperatures of 10ºC and above. Check the instructions and the warranty’s small print before deciding where to keep your new freezer. 

7. The freezer door should be able to hold a piece of paper

Frequently poking your nose in the freezer takes its toll on the door seal time. When the seal deteriorates, it starts to let in unwanted warm air (and ultimately, upping your energy bills). To check that the seals are still working properly, close the door on one sheet of paper and see if it holds. If it doesn’t, time to get the seal replaced.