How to Use a Freezer Thermometer to Monitor Your Freezer Temperature

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Keep your frozen chicken, vegetables and meals safe with this small purchase.

You probably know about basic food safety, like that you need to wash your hands after touching raw chicken, and that you shouldn’t use the same cutting board for vegetables and meat. But there are food safety risks in your freezer, too. Namely, you have to maintain the right freezer temperature to keep food safe and fresh.

What’s the Best Temperature for a Freezer?

The number is easy to remember: 0°F is the max temperature for frozen food, according to the FDA. Your freezer thermometer should always read 0° or slightly lower to ensure safe food preservation.

When kept at the correct temperature, frozen food will be safe to eat for a surprisingly long time.

How to Use a Freezer Thermometer

In order to take advantage of this excellent storage method, you need to ensure the temperature is safe and consistent. You can easily do this by picking up an inexpensive freezer thermometer.

Most freezer thermometers should be installed in the center of the freezer without touching anything other than the freezer wall or rack. You should move around frozen food or ice so there’s an open space for the thermometer. You might need to know these freezer organization tips for this step!

Then, wipe down an area or shelf. The lingering frost, pieces of food and other gunk can throw off the balance of the thermometer, so the area should be sparkling clean.

You can hang the thermometer from the center freezer rack or stand in the center of the freezer, depending on how your compartment is organized. You should wait at least 24 hours before taking a freezer reading.

Now that your freezer is certifiably safe, check out our ultimate guide to freezing food.

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Mandy Naglich
Mandy is a food and beverage writer with bylines at WNYC, Munchies, Mic and October. She's a Certified Cicerone and award-winning homebrewer living, writing and cooking in New York City.