Next Storm, Use A Quarter To Make Sure Your Frozen Food Is OK.
Like many of our listeners, I live in a rural area. I have no city water, so I have a septic system and a well. So today, thanks to the stupid storm, I have no power, which means I also have to sweat what's gonna happen to the food in my freezer, while I'm at work with no clue whether the power was out for five minutes, or five hours.
If the power was out long enough for all your food to thaw and re-freeze, and you don't know it, you are at great risk for food-borne illness. Any food that sits at too long a time over 41 degrees, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. If the bacteria then freezes into the food, you may not actually be able to cook it out, even at high temps.
So here's the trick... When you know a storm is on the way, place a small cup of water in your freezer, and leave it. When it's completely frozen, place a quarter on top. Say the power goes out and comes back on much later. Check the quarter on top of the frozen cup....
If the quarter is still sitting on top, and hasn't really moved, then you know nothing really thawed out in the freezer. If the water is re-frozen, and the quarter is in the bottom, you know the power was out quite a while, and that everything in your freezer also thawed out. Sadly, that means you should be chucking the food that's in there.
But really...throwing out some food is waaaaay better than getting sick from eating it. Trust me. I've had food poisoning and it wasn't pretty. I got it at a restaurant, so it's a bit different. But, until just last year, I was ServSafe certified, so I know a thing or ten about food safety.
Really, this is about as simple as it gets. And it could keep your whole family from getting sick. I'm sorry I didn't get this out to y'all yesterday, when it would've been waaaay more helpful. But now you know, and knowing is half the battle!
(yes, I did watch a lot of G.I. Joe)