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Power Failure Cleanup

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Here in the DC area, 1,000,000 of us were without power. I happened to be away for part of that time. I have cleaned out the refrig. and kept only eggs and condiments. I took EVERYTHING out of the refrigerator, and kept the jams, Asian sauces, condiments and relishes that were still pristine. My question is about the freezer. I know it was warm in there after 5 days. The ice tray had melted and then refrozen into a solid block and some bread had mold on it. I through out all breads, all meats and fish including the ham bone (sob), ice cream, etc. I kept the nuts because I freeze them to prevent them from becoming rancid but they all tasted fine. My question is about frozen fruit and vegetables. Corn, peas, blueberries, edaname, artichokes - what do you think? TIA for any information.

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  1. Personally, I would throw out everything including condiments. It is not worth getting sick. You might want to check your insurance policy. We just found out today that ours would cover everything up to $500 and that is not under our deductible. Fortunately, we didn't need it since we had a generator. Still, I would throw out everything. I had to several years ago when we had a week-long power outage. Your medical expenses could far outweigh the cost of what you are trying to save.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MrsJonesey

      I agree. I might keep some stuff if power was off for one day and things were still frozen, but after 5 days? No way.

      1. re: MrsJonesey

        +1. We had a horrific ice storm in Massachusetts 2 years old, and the insurance adjustor that came to our house to view the damage to our roof/fence/porch asked me to make a quick tally of my refrigerator items. Frozen veg, opened mayo, opened salad dressings, everything went. The only thing we saved was a couple of Hershey's dark chocolate bars that we had in the freezer which had thawed to room temp.

      2. I think you are fine with the condiments - they all sound like high acid and/or high salt foods, and should be fine. Just keep an eye out for mold or discoloration.

        I'm kind of on the fence with the fruits and vegetables. The texture will definitely suffer, but if you're using them for smoothies or long/slow cooking methods, the texture it's that important. Food safety wise, they should be fine if the temperature was above freezing, but still cold/cool. I would probably keep the fruit (high acid) but toss the vegetables.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mpjmph

          Let me start by saying that I almost NEVER throw stuff away, and we have had some significant power outages...BUT, as other posters have said, five days is a long time. I would probably do a significant sniff test (thaw a little and check it) but I'd only save stuff if it is very special (the blueberries you picked last year that were huge and wonderful) or somesuch. If you can replace it by a visit to the grocery store, I wouldn't hesitate to toss it. Unfortunately, my u-pick berries were all in the bottom of the freezer in bags and enough of the meat juice had seeped down from the thawing packages of pork and lamb and beef that I just didn't feel safe hanging on to them...and SOB is right. (And DO call your agent...we had some area-wide no-questions-asked coverage, I think it was about 300 bucks per household). The condiments are probably fine, but watch them for mold & 'off' smells for a while, you might end up tossing a few of them. And consider your audience, I will risk stuff for myself that I would probably not feed the kids.

        2. Why would people throw out condiments? I don't refrigerate them to begin with.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            I agree with ipsedixit. All of mine have always been kept in the pantry.

          2. I agree with mpjmph about fruits and veggies probably suffering irreparable texture damage. But thaw and test. Soups and smoothies might be possible. I'm in the DC area too but was only powerless for 12 hours so didn't have to purge. This time. I've BTDT and pretty much used your same approach. Tossing cheeses always hurts me the most.

            1. Your freezer must have gotten warm enough to encourage mold growth on the bread. Personally, I would toss everything from the fridge, except for the nuts.

              The question is not really about food safety, but peace of mind, especially if you're going to be concerned about the kept food in the future. This is a good time to just restock with new.