Storing food safely inside the freezer in anticipation of enjoying at a later date makes meal planning easier and saves money too. But when that foil-wrapped package of leftover holiday ham gets forgotten and fused to the side of the fridge, it becomes a hassle rather than the hot meal you had planned.
Pushing and pulling at food that is stuck together or to the inside of the appliance's compartment doesn't work well. Allowing the appliance to defrost or the food to arrive at room temperature before removing it from its unwanted partner isn't always safe. However, frozen food stuck in the freezer can be removed easily with the proper tools and methods.
Safely Remove Stuck-On Items
The interior of the freezer can get punctured or warped if the wrong techniques are used to remove items that have become stuck inside the compartment.
Summit Appliance recommends that you plan ahead when defrosting a freezer in order to save any of the food stored inside. When defrosting a freezer, you may run into unforeseen issues that can take more time than you initially planned.
Store perishables and frozen items in coolers so that they don't inadvertently defrost. The Food and Drug Administration notes that food left at room temperature for two hours can cause bacteria to form and make the food dangerous to consume.
Layers of Ice in Freezer
Before you begin chipping away at the thick layers of hard ice built up on the ceiling, sides and floor of the freezer compartment, make sure you have towels and bowls at the ready. The towels can quickly soak up bits of ice that fly off of the layers you are chipping away at and the bowls can hold large chunks.
Place a small bowl of steaming hot water in the freezer and leave the door open. This will speed up the melting process and make it easier to reduce the thick layers of ice that cling to the plastic liner. If you use a hairdryer to defrost the freezer, then you could set yourself up for a potentially deadly electrical shock. Be patient and allow the ice to melt naturally by keeping the door open and using hot water.
You can also use a plastic spatula or putty knife to chip away at the ice as it melts. An ice pick, kitchen knife or another sharp metal object can puncture the plastic of the freezer compartment.
Frozen Food Stuck in Freezer
When it's more than a few layers of ice that are stuck to the freezer, it can be harder to maneuver around the freezer compartment to remove all the ice. Try the hot water technique before reaching for something else, such as salt to defrost the freezer.
If an ice tray or frozen meal has fused to the base or side of the appliance, sprinkle salt onto the floor of the freezer. Pour hot water over the salt to speed up the melting process. Repeat this as necessary. Use a plastic putty knife once the corners begin to lift or if you can find some sort of purchase underneath the item.
These techniques work well for separating materials like a plastic bag stuck in the freezer with other plastic items or cardboard boxes that have become frozen together. Be careful not to puncture the container as you work to melt the ice crystals that have fused them together.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.