French fries are one of the world’s most popular side dishes. They are inexpensive, easy to make, and simply delicious.
A lot of us buy frozen fries to cook and enjoy at home. And so, many people wonder whether french fries go bad or not and how long you can store them for.
While most french fries have a shelf life of 12 to 18 months in the freezer, they may already lose some of their quality and taste after 6 months. If stored appropriately, they generally last 3 to 5 days in the fridge.
If you want to know how to store your french fries, how long they can sit out, and how to tell if they have gone bad, all you have to do is keep reading!
How Long Can You Keep Frozen French Fries in the Freezer?
Frozen french fries generally last 12 to 18 months in the freezer if they are packaged and stored correctly.
Most brands have a shelf life of either 12 or 18 months in the freezer, but that’s more of a general recommendation because frozen foods that are stored at a constant 0°F technically last forever.
However, the longer you keep your frozen fries in the freezer, the more their quality, taste, and texture can decrease.
So, while you can probably still eat them after 18 or more months in the freezer, you can’t expect them to have the same quality as the ones you’ve recently bought at the store.
Additionally, the 12 to 18 months frame primarily applies to unopened packages!
It’s easily happened that air or moisture gets into an open bag of fries, and if that is the case, it’s almost sure that they won’t have the same quality or taste anymore, as they’ll likely be freezer-burnt.
And even though freezer burn doesn’t make food unsafe, it definitely doesn’t taste or look great!
Hence, if you keep an open bag of frozen french fries in the freezer, it’s best to consume them within 3 to 6 months.
How Long Can You Keep French Fries in the Fridge?
If you’ve cooked your frozen french fries and want to put some leftovers in the fridge, you can keep them there for 3 to 5 days.
PRO TIP: Make sure to put your leftover fries in an air-tight container when storing them in the fridge. Otherwise, they will become soft and lose their flavor. I prefer a sealable freezer bag for my french fries.
The same amount of days applies to thawing your frozen fries in the fridge, even though it is not recommended to thaw them before cooking.
Yes, they’ll probably cook faster, but the thawed surface of the fry will no longer be sealed during frying.
This generally results in excess fat absorption and a greasy flavor.
On the other hand, if you keep them frozen before you cook them, the surface will remain sealed, resulting in high-quality and crispy fries.
Sometimes, though, things have to go fast in the kitchen, and while the fries may not be as tasty and crispy, you’ll at least be able to prepare a fast dinner for your family.
So, thawing frozen fries in the fridge to save valuable time is definitely an option. Just make sure to cook them within that 3 to 5-day time frame!
How Long Can French Fries Sit Out?
You can keep frozen french fries at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours. This applies to both thawing frozen fries and cooked leftovers.
BUT REMEMBER: You do not need to thaw your frozen fries before cooking! Avoid doing that if possible!
If you keep them in a warmer environment above 90°F, they can only sit out for 1 hour!
That’s because bacteria tend to grow best and fastest in temperatures between 40 and 140°F, and if your fries sit out for too long, they are at risk of getting contaminated and making you sick.
This temperature range is generally referred to as the “danger zone.”
So if you’re throwing a party and serving french fries (or any other perishable food for that matter), make sure to discard them after 2 hours if you have kept them at room temperature and after 1 hour at temperatures above 90°F!
This also answers the question of whether you can leave french fries out overnight with a big, fat NO. For the sake of your health and well-being, please don’t ever do that!
Can You Refreeze French Fries?
Refreezing thawed french fries is generally considered safe if they are kept at a temperature of 40°F or below.
This means that it is commonly okay to refreeze your fries if they have been thawing in the fridge for a couple of days or, alternatively, left out for a brief time.
For the latter scenario, it is, however, safest to measure the temperature of your fries and check if they’re still mostly frozen and covered in ice crystals.
If they have been sitting out for too long and got too warm, there is a risk of bacteria growth and possible foodborne illnesses.
And those you will not get rid of, even if you refreeze the fries!
How Do You Know if Frozen French Fries Have Gone Bad?
Whether frozen or cooked, french fries can go bad. And when they do, you should never eat them!
Apart from the obvious signs, such as mold or odd discolorations, there are a few things you can check to see if your fries are still good or not.
If they give off a weird or foul odor, it’s best to discard them immediately, as they may have begun to rot or have bacteria growing on them.
Similarly, if they feel slimy or mushy, it’s time to throw them away and go and buy a new bag of frozen french fries.
If all else fails and you’re really wondering if your fries have gone bad or not, you can always do the taste test. But this does only apply to cooked fries!
If they taste bitter, sour, moldy, or otherwise off, do not eat them and throw them in the trash asap! Just spit out the piece of fry you’ve tested.
It’s a little disgusting, but at least you won’t be eating the entire spoiled serving and possibly save yourself a trip to the doctor or, worse, ER!
Can French Fries Make You Sick?
Eating contaminated or spoiled french fries can result in food poisoning, a foodborne illness with symptoms ranging from mild to extremely severe.
Food poisoning is a tricky disease, as it can start a few hours or a few weeks after consuming the contaminated food. It all depends on what you’ve eaten and your body’s defense mechanisms and immune system.
If and when symptoms begin, they can include the following:
- Upset stomach
- Bloody stools
- Stomach pain
- Stomach cramps
In less common but more severe cases, the body’s nervous system is affected. Here, symptoms can include one or several of the following:
- Tingling of the skin
- Muscle weakness
- Blurry vision
- High fever
- Excessive vomiting
- Excessive diarrhea
- Behavioral changes
- Extreme dehydration
REMEMBER: Always seek medical attention if you are experiencing severe symptoms or if your child or children get food poisoning!
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