Do you have half a roast turkey, a boat of cranberry sauce, sauteed veggies, and slices of plum pudding left from Christmas dinner?
If so, you must be thinking of what are you going to do with all that food? Well, you could freeze them, of course! But did you know that there are specific ways to freeze food that lasts longer and still tastes great?
These freezing techniques are critical to follow. Otherwise, your food would get exposed to moisture and air. This would spoil the taste, texture, and the food itself faster.
Let’s go through this mine of methods and tips to keep your food appropriately frozen to prevent freezer burns without further delay.
Why Should You Freeze Food?
Freezing food is an excellent way to:
- Prevent wastage.
You needed two and a half cups of vegetables for a soup, but you ended up chopping more. So, you freeze the extra veggies in the freezer and use them later instead of tossing them.
- Save money.
Waste not, want not! When you freeze food to use later, you don’t need to go food shopping often. Therefore, you save money in the long run.
- Retain freshness and taste.
Freezing food, when done properly, can help retain the original taste and freshness of the food. This applies to both raw and cooked food.
- Store leftovers.
You don’t want to throw away the pizza slices from pizza night, right? Store leftovers from a potluck by freezing them. When you have them later, you can relive your memories.
- Keep nutrients intact.
When done right, frozen food retains nutrients. In fact, frozen vegetables are packed with nutrients as these were picked fresh and frozen within a short time.
- Speed up cooking.
If you’re a firm believer in planning meals and preparing some of them beforehand, freezing food is the best way. It helps to speed up your cooking time.
For example, you can freeze cookie dough and save on total baking time.
Foods You Can and Can’t Freeze
Although you can freeze all foods, some foods are better not frozen. That’s because they lose their flavor, color, and texture. When you defrost and cook them, they would turn out to be a major culinary disappointment.
Here’s a table with a broad list of foods that you can and cannot freeze. This list will help make family freezer meals easy and cost-efficient.
|Okay to Freeze
|Not Okay to Freeze
|Fish, meat, poultry
|Fruits and veggies
|High water-content veggies and leaves like potatoes, lettuce, celery, cabbage, and cucumber.
|Cakes, cookies, and bread
|Hard cheeses and butter
|Apples and citrus fruits
|Soups containing dairy and starch
Things to Freeze Food in
Before you plan to freeze food, you should have the right tools and containers handy. Refer to the list below and make sure you have these in the kitchen.
- Ziplock Bags
Freezer bags or ziplock bags are great for freezing food because they are flexible in shape and can be stacked in the freezer. The benefit is that it saves a lot of space and makes organizing your freezer much easier.
As freezer bags are made from good quality plastic, they don’t get brittle and break when frozen. Moreover, it’s easier to push out air from these bags.
Thanks to the durability of the freezer bags, they can be washed and reused.
- Silicone Bags
If you feel a bit guilty about using plastic ziplock bags, you can go for an alternative – silicone bags.
These bags have several advantages – they are easy to clean, are dishwasher-safe, allows minimum air and moisture inside, can be stored in a drawer without taking up much space, are tightly sealable, and, therefore, don’t allow any other flavor to contact the food stored in it.
- Airtight Containers
Choose glass or plastic airtight containers with lids that seal tightly when you want to freeze liquids and semi-liquids like soups, juices, marinades, stews, etc.
These containers are easy to stack on top of each other and leave your freezer more organized. Plus, they prevent smells from other foods from coming in contact.
These containers are also safe to use in the oven, freezer, and dishwasher. But a word of caution: glass containers should not be put directly into the oven from the freezer. It should be allowed to reach room temperature first.
- Plastic, Freezer, and Foil Wraps
These types of wraps are an excellent choice when you’re freezing foods that don’t have a uniform shape. Examples include mutton leg, whole chicken, etc.
Normal plastic wraps are not freezer-safe, and you should use several layers if you don’t have freezer wraps. You can first wrap the food in plastic and follow it up with a foil one. This will keep the moisture in (while also preventing freezer burn).
Freezer wraps are special ones that come with a plastic or wax coating on one side so that meat juices and marinades are held in. The other side is uncoated so that you can label the contents easily.
How to Freeze Foods Properly
- Fruits and Veggies
All veggies should be cooked or blanched before freezing, except peppers and onions. These and all fruits can be frozen raw.
First, wash and chop your produce to the size you want. Pat them dry with a towel.
To blanch vegetables, add them to a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. This locks in the color and texture. Take them out and put them in ice-cold water to stop the cooking process.
Now put the produce on a tray lined with a baking sheet and freeze them in one layer so that you don’t have to deal with unrecognizable clumps later on.
Once frozen, put them in separate freezer bags, and you’re done. This is a great way to stretch your food budget without compromising on quality.
Clear vegetable, meat, and fish soups can be cooked and cooled down before freezing. Use airtight containers made from glass or plastic to freeze your soups.
Avoid freezing soups that contain starch like rice, pasta, and potatoes. These starchy foods absorb water when frozen and become mushy when you reheat them, spoiling the texture of the soup.
Freezing soups that contain dairy should not be frozen. When you reheat these, the texture becomes mushy.
To retain the original texture of dairy-based soups, don’t boil them before freezing and when you reheat them. Also, add the cream just before serving.
- Poultry and Meat
To freeze raw chicken, put a freezer or plastic wrap tightly around it. Follow up with another layer of aluminum foil. Lastly, put it in a ziplock or any freezer bag.
There is no need to let cooked poultry cool down to room temperature in order for them to be frozen. This will increase the chances of activating bacteria that can cause illness. Instead, let the temperature come down fast by placing it in the freezer.
Meat with lower moisture content, such as sausages and bologna, can be frozen easily. Store-bought meat is already packaged, and you just have to stick it in the freezer. If the plastic wrap is not a high-quality one, use a freezer bag or another plastic wrap.
If you’ve already opened a meat package, don’t put it back in the freezer the way it is, as it will get freezer burns. Instead, put individual pieces on wax paper or paper towel before putting these away in freezer bags. Just push out the air from the bags before sealing to retain the color, texture, and taste.
For leftover cooked meat, wrap tightly in plastic and foil covers before putting it in a freezer bag.
- Baked foods
You can freeze cakes, cookies, bread, muffins, and more. Just wrap individual pieces in plastic wraps after they are completely cool. For unfrosted whole cakes, wrap them in plastic and put them in a sealable freezer bag.
- Cooked foods
Freeze casseroles and other cooked foods without dairy ingredients by putting them in airtight containers or freezer bags.
Tips to Freeze Food That Will Last Long and Taste Good
- Always keep the temperature of the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Never put hot food directly in the freezer. Always allow them to come to room temperature first (cooked poultry being the exception).
- Keep poultry, fish, and meat toward the rear of the freezer, away from the door, as the temperature is more consistent here.
- Leave some space in the container so that liquids have the space to expand when it freezes.
- Always label the container so that you know which food you have stored and on which date.
- In case you’re using thin plastic wraps, use a few layers to keep the plastic from getting brittle and allowing moisture or air inside.
- Sour cream and yogurt containers should not be kept in the freezer as their lids are not airtight and may allow air and moisture to enter.
Freezing foods the right way can help you economize your freezer space and your budget. With the right tools, you can make the most of your household and culinary skills without letting any food go to waste. I hope the steps we mentioned will help you save valuable food and money.
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