Can you eat soup that has been frozen for a year?

In this article, I will answer the question: “Can you eat soup that has been frozen for a year?” and I will provide helpful information to store soup batches appropriately for later use.

Can you eat soup that has been frozen for a year?

NoYes, you cannot eat soup that has been frozen for a year. The US Department of Agriculture recommends a maximum storage time of 2 to 3 months for frozen vegetable and meat soups (1).

When meat and meat products are stored under frozen conditions, microbial spoilage may be delayed but fat deterioration occurs and meat constituents may become oxidized (2).

Because freezing prevents hazardous bacteria from forming, your soup is perfectly safe to eat. Freezer burn, on the other hand, can change the flavor and texture of soup making it unappealing to eat even if it is safe to consume.

How long can you freeze soups?

Depending on the type of soup and its ingredients, there are different methods to freeze it.

  • Soups with vegetables: Stews with chunky veggies, protein, and broth are the best soups to freeze. Because of the nature of the ingredients, these soups usually hold up well – the broth doesn’t separate or curdle, and the proteins and veggies can survive the moisture and stay intact. These soups can be frozen for up to three months.
  • Dairy-based soups: On the other hand, freezing soups that contain dairy or are cream-based may be tricky. These soups should be frozen for no more than a month. If you leave the soup in the freezer for too long, the dairy will separate from the other components, giving it a chunky texture when it thaws. To avoid texture alteration, simply make your soup and wait to add the dairy ingredients reheating the frozen soup.
  • Soups with noodles: Chowders and rice or noodle soups are tasty, but the main ingredients don’t hold up well over time since starchy foods absorb liquid. The texture of these kinds of soups may tend to be mushy after thawing. Consider adding the starchy ingredients during the reheating step, like you would do with dairy-based soups, for a better taste. 

The spoilage of frozen soup does not occur due to microbial changes. In fact, the freezing process even kills about half the bacteria and numbers decrease slowly during storage. However, a study showed that the soup flavor decreases significantly with increasing frozen storage period. A gradual decline in flavor scores of stored soup might be due to loss of volatile flavor components from spices and condiments and also be due to initiation of lipid oxidation in stored soup (2).

What Is the Best Method for Freezing Soup?

Here are some instructions to freeze your soup appropriately (1):

  1. Choose the serving size:

It is recommended to freeze soup in containers based on the number of people you intend to feed. 

We recommend freezing soup in single-serve containers like a small stasher bag or a 16 oz. freezer-safe container if you’re only serving one person.

If you’re feeding a family, 32 oz. container, large stasher bag, or gallon-size bag should be sufficient.

Before you freeze, think about what works best for you.

  1. Choose the right container:

The most important thing to consider when freezing soup is to choose a container designed for freezer preservation.

A freezer-safe airtight container, such as Souper Cubes, is the appropriate container for freezing soup. Some individuals choose to keep their soup in a cylindrical container, glass jar, or freezer-safe one-quart freezer bags instead. Because they are silicone and stackable, Souper cubes are ideal for freezing soup. 

  1. Cool the soup:

It’s critical to let the soup cool completely before freezing it. While it may be tempting to put it in the freezer just after cooking, if it’s even slightly warm, it could lower the freezer’s temperature, allowing goods already inside to defrost slightly. Furthermore, the rapid temperature change poses a threat to food safety.

  1. Avoid freezer burn:

Food that has been frozen-burned is safe to consume, but it may not taste very good. 

The term freezer burn encompasses dehydration that can occur on the surface of frozen foods, over time during frozen storage which is associated with degradation in color, texture, and flavor. This phenomenon occurs when water sublimates from the surface of the food product due to the difference between the water vapor pressure (Vp) of frozen food and the surrounding environment. Freezer burn causes serious deterioration in quality and value of frozen food through weight loss and increased exposure to oxygen which irreversibly alter color, texture, and flavor of frozen food  (3).

Fortunately, freezer burn can be avoided. 

Because the ice crystals that cause the burn are generated by air exposure, the first step in preventing freezer burn is to keep the air out. The presence of head space air (loose packing) contributes to the freezer burn which is referred as intra-package freezer burn condition manifested by frost or “snow” within the pack (3).

When freezing soup, this becomes a little trickier because liquid expands when frozen. This can be avoided by using frozen cracked glass. 

It’s crucial to avoid overfilling or underfilling the container.  Allow 1/2 inch of headroom in the container before freezing soup.

If you’re particularly concerned about freezer burn, cover the surface of the liquid with plastic wrap, smooth it over the surface of the food, and then cover the container with the lid. Using freezer-safe air-tight containers also aids in keeping the air out.

  1. Label your soup:

Don’t forget to write the best before date on the freezer-safe container! 

Frozen soup can be kept in the freezer for up to three months.

Place the soup in a flat space in your freezer and keep it there until you’re ready to enjoy it!

Conclusion

In this essay, I answered the question: “Can you eat soup that has been frozen for a year?” and I provided useful information to store and handle soups appropriately.

Feel free to contact me for any further information related to this subject.

References

  1. Freezing and Food Safety. United States Department of Agriculture. 2013. 
  2. Gadekar, Yogesh P., et al. Quality changes in soup from deboned chicken frames at refrigerated (4±1° C) and frozen (− 18±1° C) storage. Int j food sci technol, 2009, 44, 1763-1769.
  3. Dalvi-Isfahan, Mohsen, et al. Review on identification, underlying mechanisms and evaluation of freezing damage. J Food Eng, 2019, 255, 50-60.