Storing Frozen Food Outside in the Winter
On first thought, it seems logical. Cold temperatures outside should keep your frozen food frozen during the winter months. In practice, however, it’s just not a great idea.
First off, a freezer is a controlled cold environment with a stable temperature, while the outdoor temperature fluctuates considerably during the day. If any sunshine hits the food, outer parts can begin to thaw slightly before freezing again. This isn’t good for the food, nor is it safe. Dust and winter grime can easily blow onto your food, and animals – dogs, cats, squirrels, birds, etc. – can all be attracted to your outdoor food store. You may not be able to smell frozen peas through a plastic bag, but that won’t stop curious, hungry animals from checking it out.
The middle ground solution of storing food in your garage is equally problematic. Fumes from the car can still contaminate it, the temperature still fluctuates, and critters are still able to access it.
Because of these concerns, anything perishable should be stored in your freezer instead of outside, no matter how cold it is. More than anything, it’s just not worth the potential risk to your own health and that of your family.
That said, beverages in cans and bottles can indeed be temporarily placed outside to rapidly chill when guests are over – a handy way to make use of Mother Nature during New Year’s Eve festivities. Just be sure to keep a close eye on them, checking every 10 minutes or so to make sure they’re not too cold. The colder it is outside, the less time it takes to turn a can of pop into a sugary ice cube. You really don’t want to be the party host who has to bring out the ice breaker and shovel when bottles or cans start to freeze and burst.
Another good use for the outdoors is as an impromptu ice machine. You can use your ice cube trays to make and freeze ice a few trays at a time, then bag those cubes in sealed freezer bags. You can also buy single-use ice cube bags that you fill and freeze at home. Failing that, you can also store a bag of ice from the corner store outside. In all cases, make sure the ice is in a well-sealed container that protects it from snow, dust and outdoor guests, and make sure you keep it in a shady spot in your yard.