We've all been there, leaving for vacation or having to exit our houses in an emergency, and going over the checklist in our minds: Did I turn off the stove? Have I locked the windows? Should I turn off the gas? Recently, the United States has been experiencing some wild weather patterns, and many people have been forced to leave their homes due to power outages and weather-related disasters.
You come home again, and you know there has been a power outage, but the food in your freezer is still frozen. How do you know that it is safe to eat? What if it sat at room temperature for days, freezing again only when the power came back on? A woman from North Carolina posted this tip on Facebook, and it went viral, being shared almost 400,000 times. She says you can tell if your food has been spoiled by using one simple trick:
1. The one cup tip
Fill a cup with water and place it in the freezer overnight. Once it has frozen, leave a coin on top. If the coin has sunk to the bottom when you get home, you'll know that the whole cup has melted and refrozen, and the safety of your food has been compromised.
2. The ice cube tip
Empty a few ice cubes from your ice tray into a zip-lock bag or a plastic container and leave it in your freezer. They will hold their form as long as the freezer remains working, but if you ever find them frozen flat, you'll know that the freezer was off long enough for them to completely melt.
3. The ice pop tip
Lay an ice pop horizontally over another object in the freezer. If it is still lying straight when you arrive home, the freezer has been working fine. If it has sagged over the edges of the other object, you'll know the freezer has defrosted a little. If the ice pop has bent all the way down to lie flat against the sides of the other object, you'll know it turned to liquid.
4. The water bottle tip
Fill a bottle halfway with water and freeze so the ice is on the bottom, then lay the bottle on its side. The ice will stay in the same formation as long as the freezer keeps working. Hint: You can do the same with ice cream. Eat half, and then lay the tub on its side. Yum!
5. The trash bag cleanup
This one is especially good if you are expecting power outages. Put all the food in your freezer into a few trash bags, and put it all back into the freezer. If it stays frozen, then all is fine, but if power is lost and your food does spoil, the cleanup will be as simple as pulling the bags from the freezer and disposing of them.
Simple tips can save you so much trouble later, from gauging whether the food in your freezer is safe to eat to making cleanup a snap. Which one will you use?