Most of the products we sell can be frozen very successfully. There are four main problems that can occur with freezing, all of which can easily be avoided:



Problem 1: Loads of juice comes out of the meat when it thaws.


This juice (known as "drip"), is actually caused by ice crystal that form during the freezing process and damage the cells within the meat causing them to rupture. If meat is frozen slowly, large lozenge-shaped ice crystals form, causing more damage. When the meat thaws, the ice melts and leaks out. If the meat is frozen quickly (many freezers have a "Boost" facility to enable this) the problem is greatly mitigated. You'll probably never avoid a bit of harmless drip, but you should always follow the rule - FREEZE quickly, THAW slowly.


Problem 2: The meat goes a horrid colour in the freezer.


Again, easily prevented. When the furface of a frozen product has an unattractive, often yellowish, tinge (known as "Freezer Burn"), it's nearly always due to ice crystals at the surface drying out in the very low humidity of your freezer. Ice WILL dry in this environment (you've probably heard of freeze-dried coffee - the principal is the same), but it causes some damage to the surface of the meat which looks unpleasant but is completely harmless and will probably disappear if you cook the product anyway. The problem can be avoided by ensuring that products are frozen in airtight plastic bags from which as much air has been removed beforehand as possible.


Problem 3: Food that has been in the freezer has gone "off". 


Freezers running at -18°c do a great job of stopping microbiologcal spoilage, as bacteria are virtually unable to grow in these conditions. However there are some chemical changes that can still occur. Some animal fats for instance are prone to slowly oxidizing, which can give rise to "rancid" flavours. These are generally harmless, if not pleasant. The only solution is to store the food in airtight bags or containers, and only keep food frozen for the recommended period of time. Many vegetable will be fine for 12 months or more, but we would advise keeping meat, fish and cheese for no more than six months for best results.


Problem 4: No, my frozen food is definitely off!


As already explained, -18°c is cold enough to more or less stop bacteria and other spoliage organisms from growing; what it won't do, however, is kill them. This means that if your food isn't very fressh when it goes in, it will be no better (probably a bit worse!) when it comes out! For this reason, please freeze your food on receipt, or failing that, while it's still as fresh as possible. If there is still a problem it may be worth checking the temperature of your freezer!