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OH NO the freezer is open!
So you’re innocently going downstairs to do a little laundry and you turn and notice THE FREEZER WAS LEFT OPEN OVERNIGHT. What do you do? I’ve experienced this TWICE now, and it can sure be a day wrecker.
Who would leave the freezer open overnight?
In my house, it’s absolutely “NOT ME” who left the freezer open. No one wants to be responsible for this grocery budget ruiner. Usually, we don’t even bother asking because we’re too busy trying to scramble and save as much as possible.
And honestly, I don’t believe anyone would leave it open on purpose. It’s always an accident. The guilty party already feels bad, why make it worse.
I have a few tips to get you through the hardest parts of this experience. It’s no picnic but before you panic, throw everything out, and call it a total loss grab a cup of coffee and read this post.
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Take a Deep Breath
- Take a deep breath and assess the situation. Is there water pooling under the freezer? Are the food packages wet and soft? Are things leaking? Is anything still frozen?
- Check to see if the door was just left open or did you have a catastrophic failure of your freezer?
Is it Plugged In?
- If the freezer is plugged in, the light is on, and it’s trying to work then it’s probably still working.
If It's NOT Working
if the freezer is not working, then you will be working with a lot more defrosted goods. You’ll probably need a cooler to put all the thawing food items in to keep them cool.
Just Left Open?
- If the door was just left open a crack, it’s time to assess the contents. Anything wet, soft, leaking, and thawed should be removed. Often things in the freezer will stay frozen even if the door is left open a crack. I’ve found that stuff at the front of the freezer and the top of the freezer are the first to be thawed.
- Once you’ve removed all the thawing items, you have to decide if you’re going to cook them or toss them. In my opinion, if meats are cool to the touch OR semi-frozen, they are still able to be consumed, but you must cook them first. Do not refreeze thawed meats. Vegetables and fruits can be refrozen but will need to be used soon because they will get freezer burned a lot more quickly.
Can You Cook It?
- When my freezer has thawed, I usually end up cooking as much as possible. I batch cook food, make a complete meal and refreeze. That is a safe method, by the way, to cook and refreeze items as desired.
Time to Throw Out the Warm Stuff
- Anything warm to the touch should be discarded, it may be unsafe to consume. I have cooked that meat for our dogs before though. If that’s something you feel like doing it’s an excellent way to use up meat you think is questionable. But do not consume meat that has been defrosted and is warm, it is unsafe.
So there you have it, what to do if your freezer is left open overnight, I hope you never have to go through it. But if you’re a homeowner with room for an upright freezer you’re probably going to experience this problem at some point or another. I’m sorry, it sucks, but working through this list will help you make the most of your freezer contents.