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The Freezer, Defrosted

Body+Soul, July/August 2007

If you've ever wondered how long you can keep that frostbitten piece of unidentifiable meat in your freezer, take a lesson from Susie Theodorou, author of "Can I Freeze It?" Her new book covers everything from organization techniques to freezer no-nos. (FYI: Coffee lasts longer in the fridge.) Here, Theodorou offers a few tips on how to give most freezer-friendly foods the big chill.

Fresh Meat
Strategy: Separate into meal-size portions and wrap in PVC-free freezer plastic wrap and freezer paper before putting into plastic freezer bags.
How long: 3 Months

Bread
Strategy: Remove from original bag, slice (if it hasn't been sliced already), and wrap in a plastic freezer bag.
How long: 6 weeks

Cheese
Strategy: Separate in small blocks about 1 inch by 4 inches, wrap in freezer paper, and then in heavy-duty foil.
How long: 6 to 8 weeks for hard cheeses (Parmesan, Gouda, Swiss); 4 weeks for blue cheese

Butter
Strategy: Original wrapping intact, insert into a plastic freezer bag.
How long: 6 weeks

Nuts
Strategy: Untoasted nuts go in plastic freezer bags and then a freezer-safe plastic container to avoid being crushed.
How long: 6 weeks