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Whenever I am in the super market, I'm impressed about the fact that frozen foods are soft, because when I take them home and put them in the freezer they become rock solid hard. This happens with any food with any package, even the perfectly sealed ones.

My only guess is that it due to the ventilation of the freezers in the super market, but I'm not actually sure. What is the secret and can I achieve the same?

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  • What foods are frozen but soft when you buy them? Plenty of ice cream but not much else. A lot of veg is loose and forms clumps easily if it thaws even slightly, but it's not really soft
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 20:52
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    OK. I don't eat beef any more but when I did mainly bought fresh (chilled). The meats I did buy frozen (chicken pieces, beef mince) were always rock hard
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 5:34
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    I suspect that what you think of as a ‘freezer’ is kept to a temperature colder than a home fridge but warmer than a home freezer. As stores are organized by type of product, they can adjust each case to an optimal temperature for what’s in it. At home if you tried to keep meat really-cold-but-not-frozen it might either freeze your produce or thaw your ice cream.
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 11:31
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    @rumtscho It's easier to process this way, especially, if you have a sealed bag with a high quantity of pieces, like chicken wings, those like to stick together very strong when frozen, so it's hard to separate them, although it's easy to separate them, when doing it right away. Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 12:27
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    double bagging frozen foods like fries, veggies, and meat will keep them from getting frosty, dried out, and clumping. Just throw the open bag in a ziploc and smoosh out the air before putting back in the freezer. This seems to let frozen green beans last 6 months in the freezer, instead of weeks.
    – dandavis
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 19:38

2 Answers 2

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If the meat you are buying is soft then it's not frozen. Most meat is sold refrigerated, so I suspect you aren't buying frozen meat. If you are buying meat from the freezer section and it's soft and pliable then their freezers aren't working properly as frozen meat should be solid as ice.

Frozen products that would be pliable in some way would be ice cream as the additives keep it scoopable when frozen, and foods like fries and peas which are in small pieces which can move around in the bag, giving the impression of softness when the individual pieces inside are frozen solid.

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  • I wonder if there's something funny going on with very cold supermarket fridge temperatures - around freezing, possibly some ice crystals visible in the fridge giving the impression it's a freezer. It would be interesting to see how long the use-by dates are on these "soft but frozen" products, though chilled + vacuum packed can be quite long. Actually frozen stuff would have storage lifetimes based on the freezer temperature, as best-before.
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 9:40
  • I'd almost be tempted to got to the shop, put a fridge/freezer thermometer behind the product, and retrieve it 5 minutes later. Asking the staff would probably be a better idea, and indeed supermarket fridges and freezers often have a live temperature display for the staff to check - you can too.
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 9:42
  • @ChrisH Now I have a quest! Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 12:24
  • I was asking the staff and indeed, the "freezer" that I had in mind was not a freezer. The soft beef was held at 4°C which is apparently normal, since the labeled due date is for 0-4°C. Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 20:31
  • It sounds like they have it set right then @MartinBraun, glad to hear it as the meat should stay good.
    – GdD
    Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 7:35
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It sounds like the frozen food is partially thawing during the journey home. The water surrounding the food pools in the sealed bag; when re-frozen in your freezer it joins the pieces of cod into larger, hard lumps. If your freezer is not very cold and has a self-defrost cycle, the same thing can also happen while the food is being stored.

To avoid this, keep frozen foods together, ideally in an insulated shopping bag, and keep them out of the sun, and keep your freezer at as low a temperature as possible.

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  • Yes, that really sounds like it. I never bothered to use sealed bags, I gonna test this out. One more thing: How do companies manage to freeze things so it won't form crystals, i.e. sealed beef steak? Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 21:50
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    As I understand it Martin, foods are flash frozen in a commercial environment. They are exposed to temperatures well below that of a domestic freezer for a very short period around -80C flash-freeze.net/flash-freezing/how-flash-freezing-works.html
    – Greybeard
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 22:21

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