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Have you heard about some Minnesotans keeping a quarter in their freezer? Here's why they're doing it.

I have to confess that despite having lived my entire life here in Minnesota and Wisconsin, I'd never heard about this trick before. Apparently, there's a household hack making the rounds online that says you should keep a quarter on top of a frozen cup of ice in your freezer.

And, we're mainly talking about a second freezer, here-- maybe a freezer that's part of a second refrigerator that you keep downstairs or in your garage, or a chest freezer you keep in the basement and don't check often. (Although, if your second refrigerator is anything like ours, it's mainly filled with beer, and IS one I open just about every day...)

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The trick works like this, according to Reader's Digest: First, place a cup full of water in your freezer Then, once it’s entirely frozen, put a quarter on top of the ice. Finally, leave the cup—with the quarter—in your freezer.

So what purpose does this cup of ice with a quarter on it serve? Apparently, it can tell you if your freezer quit without you knowing it, potentially thawing and ruining everything else that's inside it. According to Reader's Digest, here's what it means:

  • If the quarter is on top: The contents of the freezer stayed frozen and are safe to eat.
  • If the quarter is in the middle: The contents of the freezer likely began to thaw, if your power went out or your freezer stopped working but then came back on and refroze quickly. You’ll want to check each container of food to be certain.
  • If the quarter is at the bottom: Thanks to a power outage or malfunction, the freezer fully defrosted, and the food thawed. Assume the food’s unsafe to eat and throw it out.

This trick has also been popularized several other places, as well, as this Facebook post notes:

But does it work? Well, Reader's Digest says it *might* be a sign that your freezer stopped working or lost power, but that it's not the best judge in determining if any frozen food items you might have stored in it are still safe to eat.

And that's mainly because different foods thaw at speeds that are different than the ice in the cup. So while the quarter might still be in the middle of the cup, it doesn't necessarily mean your other frozen items are still safe to eat.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an entire set of Freezing and Food Safety guidelines, and recommends using this rule of thumb if you think your food might have thawed and then refroze in your freezer: When in doubt, throw it out!

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Gallery Credit: Anuradha Varanasi

 

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