How to freeze food

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Step 1: Choose Freezer-Friendly Foods

Freshness and quality of the food at the time of freezing affect the condition of frozen foods. If foods are frozen at the peak of their quality, they emerge tasting better than foods frozen near the end of their freshness. So freeze items you won’t use in the near future sooner rather than later. It’s important to store all foods at 0° or lower in order to retain vitamin content, color, flavor, and texture.

Some foods are better suited to freezing and reheating than others. Casseroles, soups, stews, chili, and meat loaf all stand up to the freezer well. Find our picks for the best freezable recipes.

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Step 2: Chill

To keep food safe, cool freshly cooked dishes quickly before freezing. Putting foods that are still warm in the freezer can raise the temperature, causing surrounding frozen items to partially thaw and refreeze, which can alter the taste and texture of some foods. To prevent this, place food in a shallow, wide container and refrigerate, uncovered, until cool. To chill soup or stew even faster, pour it into a metal or heat-resistant glass bowl and set in an ice bath (a larger bowl filled halfway with ice water). Stir occasionally.

For stews, braises, or other semiliquid dishes with some fat content, chill completely, and then skim the fat from the top before freezing. Fat spoils over time in the freezer and shortens a dish’s frozen shelf life.

Freezing food is a great way to preserve it and cut down on waste, but there are some foods that just should never be frozen. Freezing these foods doesn’t save them, it turns them into garbage.

Mayonnaise

Freezing makes mayo go from creamy to clumpy. If you don’t want a spread that has the texture of cottage cheese on your sandwich, opt out of putting your jar in the freezer.

Fresh tomatoes

Cooked tomatoes are usually fine to freeze, but avoid freezing fresh tomatoes. Once they’re defrosted they are a slimy mess.

Whole eggs

Eggs expand when frozen, which can cause the shell to explode. If you want to freeze eggs, make sure to remove the shell and put the whites and yolks in a freezer storage bag.

Like pasta, freezing cooked rice is never a good idea. It becomes mushy and flavorless.

Fried foods

While many fried foods can be purchased in the freezer section of your grocery store and heat up nicely, don’t attempt this at home. Typically, freezing fried foods will leave them soggy, even if you refry them. The oil also tends to seep throughout the item, changing the flavor of the food.

Pasta

So many sites promote making freezer dinners you can just reheat after a busy day. This is all well and good, but don’t put pasta into your dinners. Freezing has a bad effect on pasta and turns it into a mealy, soggy lump.

Salad greens

This should be a no-brainer, but just in case, I’ll add it to the list. Freezing greens like spinach, lettuce and micro greens makes them a soggy, gloppy mess.

Herbs

Herbs turn into brown, gooey sludge when frozen. If you want to preserve your herbs, tie them together and hang them upside down or throw them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven on 200 for an hour or so to dry.

Some sauces

Gravy and other sauces thickened with flour or cornstarch as well as egg-based sauces aren’t that that great after freezing. They tend to separate into a lumpy disarray.

Previously frozen meat

Thawing and refreezing food is a big no-no. The US Dept. of Agriculture states that refreezing meat is perfectly safe, but it can make the meat dry because it can lose water during defrosting.

If you find a great deal on milk, it may seem like a great idea to pop a few jugs in the freezer for later. This is only a good idea if you plan on using the milk for cooking. Trust me, you don’t want to drink defrosted milk. It’s clumpy and tastes funny.

Sour cream and yogurt

Like milk, freezing sour cream and yogurt can cause them to get lumpy and gross.

Cheese

Freezing cheese changes its texture. Some cheeses become mealy while others turn heavy and dense. For the most part, cheeses last for months when properly stored, so you needn’t worry about freezing them.

Cucumbers

While some vegetables taste great after being frozen, cucumbers just aren’t one of them. The rule of thumb with vegetables is if you’re OK with them being on the softer side, it’s all right to freeze them. Cucumbers are adored for their crunchiness. That crunchiness just doesn’t hold up after freezing.

Potatoes

Raw potatoes can turn grainy when frozen. If you really want to freeze them, cook them first and store them in containers meant for freezer storage.

Freezing food is a game-changer. Not only does it preserve food for the long and short term, it also saves you loads of time in the kitchen when you make and save freezer meals for later. When you ready to eat, you can pull them from the freezer to either finish cooking or simply reheat for busy weeknight meals. We’ll share tips for how to freeze foods the right way, plus how to thaw and reheat them safely.

How to Freeze Foods

Before freezing hot food, it’s important to let it cool down. Heat will raise the temperature of the freezer; and the food will not freeze uniformly, the outer edges of the hot dish will freeze hard quickly while the inside might not cool in time to prevent spoilage. After that, you’ll want to wrap it correctly to preserve the quality of the food. Here’s how to do it:

1. Cool It Off

  • Cool precooked dishes as quickly as possible before they are placed in the freezer.
  • For fastest cooling, place the pan of hot food in a sink filled with ice water (or in a larger pan of ice water). If you’re cooling a soup, stew, or sauce, stir occasionally to help it cool evenly.
  • Once the dish is cooled, portion it into meal-sized containers or packages. Label and date the containers. Place them in a single layer in the coldest area of your freezer until completely frozen. Rearrange as necessary.

2. Wrap It Right

Poorly wrapped foods run the risk of developing freezer burn and unpleasant odors from other foods in the freezer. Follow these simple wrapping and container tips to ensure the quality and safety of your food:

  • Use only specialty freezer wrappings: they should be both moisture-proof and vapor-proof.
  • Leave as little air as possible in the packages and containers. When freezing liquids in containers, allow a small amount of head room for expansion. When using freezer bags, be sure to remove as much air as possible before closing.
  • Wrap solids foods like meats and baked goods tightly in foil before you bag them.
  • Use rigid containers with an air-tight lid and keep the sealing edge free from moisture or food to ensure proper closure.
  • Secure wrapped packages and containers with freezer tape, and write the dish and the date on the tape with a marker.
  • In many cases, meats and fish wrapped by the grocer or butcher need no extra attention before freezing. However, meat wrapped on Styrofoam trays with plastic wrap will not hold up well to freezing. If the food you want to freeze was not specially wrapped, then re-wrap them at home.
  • Freeze in small containers with no more than a 1-quart capacity to ensure that freezing takes place in a timely manner (i.e., within four hours). Food that is two inches thick will take about two hours to freeze completely.

3. Don’t Crowd the Freezer

A temperature of 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C) is best for maintaining food quality. Proper air circulation is key to keeping your freezer operating at maximum efficiency.

Freezing does not kill bacteria, yeast and molds that might be in your foods — it merely holds them at bay by keeping them inactive. If the freezer’s temperature is disturbed often or altered for an extended period of time (such as a door left ajar or power outages) these microbes can compromise your food’s safety.

How Long Can You Freeze Foods?

Although freezing keeps food safe for an indefinite amount of time, eventually the flavor will be affected. If the food is obviously damaged (shriveled, with white or frosty spots) it should be discarded.

This chart lists recommended storage times for popular precooked foods — casseroles, soups, lasagna — to ensure high-quality results:

Type of Food

How to Safely Thaw Frozen Foods

With the exception of muffins, breads, and other baked goods, do not thaw foods at room temperature. Bacteria can grow in the thawed portion of prepared foods, releasing toxins that are unsafe to eat even after cooking.

To ensure that your food is safe to eat, follow one of these proper ways to thaw:

  • In the refrigerator: This is the slowest but safest thawing technique. Small frozen items might thaw in a few hours, while larger items will take significantly longer — overnight and then some.
  • In cold water: Place the frozen food in a leak-proof bag and place in a large container of cold water.
  • In a microwave on the defrost setting: Plan to cook the food immediately after it has thawed in a microwave, because some areas of the food might have begun cooking during the defrost cycle.

How to Reheat Frozen Foods

Different foods require different methods for reheating or cooking/baking after freezing. Here are some quick guidelines:

How to freeze food

Freezing retards the growth of microorganisms and enzymes that cause food spoilage. For best flavor and texture, home-frozen foods should be used within 6 to 9 months.

Never store more than 2 or 3 pounds of food per cubic foot of freezer capacity at one time. Otherwise, you will overload the freezer, making it more difficult to maintain the recommended 0 degrees F temperature. Keep a freezer thermometer in the freezer and check the temperature about once a month.

An almost empty freezer is more expensive to operate than one that is nearly full. Frozen foods help keep their neighbors frozen, so keep your freezer well stocked. Here are a few more tips to make freezer storage simple and your food safe:

Place the newest food packages in the bottom or near the back of the freezer, then move the older ones so they are next in line for use.
Color code or label packages with different markers to help you identify foods in the freezer.
Post a list of all frozen food (with dates) near the freezer and check off what is used.

Don’t Freeze These Foods

• Salad greens and crisp raw vegetables to be used in salads and sandwiches — such as celery, onions, and sweet peppers — will lose their crispness and become limp after freezing.

• Eggs in the shell will expand and crack the shell. Hard cooked egg whites will become tough and rubbery.

• Creamed cottage cheese will change texture, becoming grainy. Freeze only uncreamed or dry-curd cottage cheese.

• Sour cream will separate when frozen and thawed.

• Heavy or whipping cream will not whip high after freezing.

• Potatoes become mushy if frozen raw, and watery and tough if boiled and then frozen.

Wrapping Food for the Freezer

If you’re freezing food for a short time, plastic bags or wrap are adequate. Wrap foods airtight to decrease the chance of “freezer burn,” which occurs when air meets frozen food. Freezer burn is not harmful but adversely affects the food’s texture and color.

For longer periods, use special wrappings such as heavy-duty aluminum foil, special plastic freezer bags, or freezer wrap. You can also use heavy-duty plastic containers or jars, but never put glass containers in the freezer; the extreme temperatures may cause the glass to break. Remember to leave head space in jars or containers because foods expand during freezing. In all cases, packages should be secure, airtight, and clearly labeled with contents and date.

Fruit

When freezing fruit, wash it well, then follow a specific freezing recipe. Sometimes ascorbic acid or another antidarkening agent is called for; these products are readily available in supermarkets and pharmacies. Fruit can be packed in syrup or sugar or be completely unsweetened.

Thaw frozen fruit in its freezer container, and use it as soon as it is thawed for best flavor and texture. When fruit is completely thawed, the texture will be a bit mushy, so plan on using frozen fruit in sauces, pies, or other recipes that don’t require perfect texture.

Vegetables

When freezing vegetables, wash them thoroughly, then prepare according to individual freezing recipes. For optimal taste, color, and texture, most vegetables — except peppers and onions — are best blanched before freezing. Times vary for each vegetable and recipe. Frozen vegetables can be cooked from the frozen state or thawed first. Remember that cooking times will be shorter, since the vegetable was partially cooked during the blanching process.

Helpful Hints

Freezing Hints

Freeze meatballs, berries, or cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet first, then place frozen pieces in bags for long-term storage. This way, they will freeze more quickly and won’t stick together.
For perfectly shaped packages that stack easily, freeze foods in a casserole dish lined with heavy-duty foil (allow enough extra foil to cover the top). After the food freezes, remove the foil-wrapped food and use the dish for something else.

Safeguarding Grains and Cereals

You can store grains and cereals in the refrigerator to increase their shelf life. This is an especially good idea in warm weather.

Whether you’re stocking up to save some bucks or to save yourself from the end times.

How to freeze food

So you’re interested in lyophilisating some goji berries? In the mood to cryodessicate rutabaga? So maybe you’re going camping. Maybe you’re a prepper. Maybe you like buying in bulk. Whatever the reason, you’ve got a few options.

For foods with high water content, freeze-drying—the process of removing water content at low temperatures—may be your best option. It’s extremely low maintenance, and it preserves nutrients. The only real downside is the amount of time it takes, depending on the technique you use.

Here are a couple ways to do it.

Option 1: Freezer Only

How to freeze food

The easiest place to start is fruits and vegetables like apples, berries, potatoes, and carrots. (If you’re more advanced, meats and larger meals can be freeze-dried, too.) For larger foods, chop into small pieces; for berries you can use as-is. Put them on a tray, spaced so they don’t touch. Put the tray in the freezer (if you need one, this one and this one are personal favorites), ideally with the freezer as empty as possible, and set it to its lowest temperature setting.

Then all you have to do is wait.

First, the foods will freeze. Next, the ice will sublime out of them—that’s when water goes straight from ice to gas without turning to liquid first, remember? When all the ice has sublimated out of the food, it’s done. You can test this by taking a piece out of the freezer. If it turns black, it’s not completely dried. Expect the whole process to take at least one week. When complete, the food can be stored in Ziploc bags anywhere that stays at or below room temperature.

Option 2: Dry Ice

How to freeze food

Using dry ice speeds up the process considerably. It’s colder, and as the dry ice itself sublimes, it takes moisture content with it. The key here is to pack it properly. Put your food items in Ziploc bags first, then pack them and dry ice into a cooler at a 1:1 ratio by weight. You can loosely close the cooler lid, but don’t seal it: The gas from the dry ice will build up and cause an explosion.

Freeze-drying is complete when all the dry ice is gone (though, as before, you can test the food by removing a small piece and seeing if it turns black). This process should only take about a day.

About Reconstituting Food…

…It’s pretty easy. Set some water to boil. Put your freeze-dried chunks in a bowl. Once the water is boiling, add a little bit of water to the bowl. The food will slowly absorb the water. Give it a minute, then test a piece for flavor or texture.

April 13, 2019 4 min read

Can you make freeze dried food at home with NO machine to create your own emergency food supply?

Yes, it’s absolutely possible, but it does come with a few caveats.

This may come as a shock to many, but you don’t need one of the big fancy freeze drying machines to actually make your own freeze dried food. However, it will take some time and effort to turn out your own freeze dried food and it won’t have the full 25 year emergency food shelf life that professionally freeze dried food has, but if you’re going to eat it relatively soon, that won’t matter.

Instead of spending $2000 – $4000 on a freeze drying machine, I’m going to show you how you can freeze dry food for a fraction of the price. However, you can also buy a selection of freeze dried fruits and vegetables to make sure you like and will use the end product.

Let’s discuss how you can do this at home.

1. Freeze Drying Food – The Home Freezer Method

How to freeze food

Quick Step-by-Step to Freeze-Drying with a Freezer:

  1. Place Your Food On a Tray
  2. Put The Tray In Your Freezer
  3. Wait 2-3 Weeks
  4. Store Your Food in Air-Free Bag

One misconception is that the freeze drying is a massively complex procedure, when in reality, you can do it in your home freezer.

The only thing you need is a normal cookie sheet or cooling rack.

All you need to do is place your food in small pieces and place them in your freezer.

A deep freezer works best but your normal freezer will work.

The food starts to freeze in the first few hours itself, but it’s important to note that the drying process will take weeks before you’ll have the freeze dried food you want.

This process is known as sublimation and is what separates freeze drying from simply freezing food inside of sealed bags or containers like we’re all used to doing.

The best way to check when the food is done drying is to remove a frozen piece and let it come to room temp.

If the food turns dark or black, it means the drying process is still not over.

Frozen food that doesn’t change color has been freeze dried thoroughly.

It is important to note that starting out with simple foods that have a high water content is the best place to start.

Try fruits like apples, berries, and bananas. Or try vegetables like broccoli and peppers. These are the easiest to do and practice on.

Freeze drying protein gets a little trickier. You can checkout our selection of freeze dried meat, here.

How to freeze food

Knowing if you’ve made freeze dried food is definitely more of an art than a science and will take a trail and error process to get it right.

Once that has been achieved, you can go ahead and store the freeze dried food in ziplock bags.

Freeze-dried food should be kept in storage that stays under 75 degrees.

2. Freeze Drying Food – The Dry Ice Method

How to freeze food

Quick Step-by-Step to Freeze-Drying with Dry Ice:

  1. Put Your Food in Freezer-Safe Bags
  2. Place The Freezer Bags in a Large Cooler
  3. Cover the Food with Dry Ice
  4. Wait 24 Hours
  5. Remove the Bags of Food and Store

Because dry ice lets all moisture from food evaporate very quickly, the whole process is much faster than method one.

The most important thing is that you need to find a day where the humidity is zero, if not the process will be substantially harder.

Using insulated gloves and a container at least double the size of the food you are freezing.

Place the food in the container and completely cover the food with dry ice.

Using a 1:1 ratio of 1 lb. of dry ice for every 1 lb. of food.

DO NOT SEAL THE CONTAINER. It will explode because of the expanding gasses.

If you have to use a lid, make sure to drill holes.

Let the process take its course and wait until there is no more dry ice in the container.

The container is now completely full of carbon dioxide and free from any moisture.

Do not remove the food until you are ready to place it in bags immediately.

We suggest using these bags to store your food, also make sure to remove as much of the air as possible, use a vacuum sealer for best results.

Pay attention to the bags and make sure no moister enters the bag, that will ruin all your hard work!

Conclusion – How to Freeze Dry Food at Home

If you are dead set on doing your freeze drying from home, this could be a great option for you, over spending $3,000-$4,000 on Harvest Right Freeze Drier.

Lucky for you – we’ve given you the best ways to freeze dry without any more expensive equipment.

If all of that sounds incredibly time consuming, not to mention expensive, you can always let us here at Valley Food Storage’s selection of survival food do all of the hard work for you.

Just sit back, relax and enjoy freeze dried vegetables, freeze dried fruits that tastes like you just picked it up right from the farm. And freeze dried meats and proteins that are easy and nutritious.

Peak asparagus season is very brief, just a few weeks in most growing zones. Even still, you can buy asparagus year-round from other places, which means asparagus is always welcome on dinner plates or holiday buffets alike.

If you ever find yourself with too many bundles, you can and should freeze asparagus to use it later. In fact, it’s handy to have some asparagus in the freezer at all times. You can pop some into stir-fries, mix a few spears into a casserole, or spruce up a pasta dish with a handful of frozen pieces.

But you can’t just freeze fresh asparagus spears. You’ll need to blanch them first. Blanching asparagus preserves the color and nutrition, and it keeps the texture and taste as close to fresh as possible. If you freeze raw asparagus, you can expect a mushy, mealy mess when it’s used.

How to Freeze Asparagus

Asparagus doesn’t last long in the fridge. Even if you know how to store asparagus, you’re only going to get three to five days out of a bundle. Freezing asparagus buys you more time and prevents you from wasting the money you spent.

Since you can’t freeze fresh asparagus, you need to take a few steps to prepare asparagus spears for the freezer. Thankfully, these are pretty simple, and you’ll have asparagus ready to be frozen in no time.

Equipment you’ll need:

  • Stockpot or large saucepan
  • Tongs or slotted spoon
  • Paper-towel lined baking tray
  • Bowl of ice water
  • Paper towels or tea towel for drying

Prep the Asparagus for the Freezer

1. Sort the asparagus spears. Break the rubber band, and fan out the bundle of spears. Look for any that are soft, shriveled, dark, or soggy. These spears won’t make it through a freeze, so toss them.

2. Wash. Pop the asparagus into a colander, and give them a good rinse under cold running water in the sink.

3. Trim the ends. Those woody, dry ends are not worth eating, so remove them. You can trim asparagus by using a chef’s knife to cut about one inch off all the ends.

4. Sort the spears. If your bundle of asparagus has spears of all difference thicknesses, go ahead and sort them based on size. Large spears will need a bit longer to cook than ones that are closer to pencil sized, so they’ll go into the boiling water first. If you separate them now, you can more easily cook in batches so everything comes out perfectly blanched, with nothing overcooked.

Blanch the Asparagus

1. Bring a stockpot or large saucepan of water to a rolling boil. While you wait for it to boil, fill a large bowl with ice water, and put several paper towels on a baking tray.

2. Gently drop asparagus into boiling water. Cook 2 to 4 minutes. If you have spears of different sizes, start with the thickest asparagus. Wait about 15 seconds, then add the next batch. End with the thinnest stalks of asparagus so they don’t overcook.

3. Remove the asparagus from the water. You can drain the spears into a colander in the sink, or use tongs or a slotted spoon to pull the asparagus out of the water. Immediately plunge the asparagus into the bowl of ice water, and let cool for the same amount of time the asparagus cooked in the boiling water.

4. Pull the asparagus out of the ice bath. Spread in a single layer on the paper towel-lined baking trays. Thoroughly dry.

5. Cut the asparagus to size. If you want shorter one- to two-inch pieces, now is the time to cut the spears down. They’ll be harder to chop when frozen. But you don’t have to cut them—you can leave long spears intact.

Freeze the Asparagus

1. Transfer the asparagus to freezer bags. Once the asparagus has been dried and cut, move the pieces or stalks into resealable zip-top plastic bags. Push as much air out as possible before sealing.

2. Label the bags. Write the date and the name of the food on the outside of the bag so you can easily find it in the freezer and know if it’s still good to use.

Get the Recipe: Asparagus Soup

Can You Freeze Cooked Asparagus?

Yes, you can freeze cooked asparagus for up to two months.

If you lots of leftovers after a holiday party or barbecue, you don’t have to toss those spears. You can instead freeze them in an air-tight container. However, you won’t be able to eat them the way you had planned to before. The asparagus, which is fully cooked at this point, will turn limp if you try to thaw it and reheat it.

Instead, you should use the frozen asparagus in dishes where the tender texture is a bonus, such as casseroles, quiches, pasta dishes, and soup.

Can You Freeze Fresh Asparagus Without Blanching It?

You can freeze fresh asparagus, but you won’t enjoy the results. Frozen fresh asparagus is prone to turning mealy and mushy in the freezer.

Blanching asparagus, besides helping preserve its color, locks the asparagus in a par-cooked state. That means the asparagus will have a better texture once it’s thawed and heated back up.

How Long Does Frozen Asparagus Last?

Blanched asparagus that is frozen will last up to a year, but for the best flavor, use within eight months.

How to Use Frozen Asparagus

You shouldn’t plan to use frozen asparagus the way you would fresh. In other words, you can’t thaw and then roast asparagus asparagus spears.

Instead, you should use frozen asparagus where its tender texture and vibrant color will be a boon. That includes pasta dishes, risotto, soups, quiches, casseroles, and stews.

In these dishes, the asparagus pieces or spears can gently reheat in the cooking process and gradually increase doneness so each bite still retains some crunch.

If you do want plain asparagus, you can use frozen asparagus. But don’t try to roast or bake it. Instead, add the frozen asparagus to a hot frying pan, and quickly sear it with a bit of olive oil or butter. You’ll only need to cook it a minute or two to warm up the pieces and make them tender again. Any longer (or on a lower heat), and the asparagus will turn mushy.

Do you need to thaw frozen asparagus?

No, you do not need to thaw frozen asparagus. In fact, thawing asparagus will likely result in something akin to a puddle.

Instead, throw frozen asparagus right into whatever dish you’re making. The temperature of the hot dish, or the baking time if you’re making something like a quiche or tart, will gently warm the asparagus back up so it’s crisp-tender and ready to eat.

The freezer can be your best friend when it comes to keeping your food fresher, longer. Use these tips on how to freeze food the right way and have the peace of mind that your food will be good to thaw and eat when you’re ready for it!

How to freeze food

Food is just too darn expensive to let it go to waste because it’s about to go bad and you don’t have the time or desire to eat it before it goes out. It’s time to stop throwing your money in the trash can!

*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Freezing your food is a great way to cut down on waste, save your hard-earned money, and cut food prep time down! These tips on how to freeze food will not only have you feeling like a pro in the kitchen, but will also have you freezing your food the proper way. Say goodbye to freezer burn! (Adios, sucka!)

HOW TO FREEZE FOOD WITH THE PROPER TOOLS

Before you can freeze your food, you have to make sure you have everything you’ll need to ensure you don’t encounter any of that darn freezer burn. Not everything you can freeze uses the same type of freezer packaging. Therefore, it’s best to have multiple types on hand so you never have to worry about not having what you need!

Don’t worry, we’re going into detail on what you should use each of those for and how to use them properly in just a few! You’re going to be a food freezing master by the end of this. 😉

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN FREEZER MEALS

How to freeze food

There’s nothing more convenient than making your own freezer meals to have for those busy nights, when someone is sick, or even when you have a new baby on the way! We always suggest that when you’re making a fresh meal, whether it’s tamale casserole or meatloaf and mashed potatoes, to double it and freeze half for later.

It’s so easy to do, you won’t believe there was ever a life before doing this! Make your food like normal. Then rather than putting it in a glass dish to bake, grab a disposable pan and fill that baby up. Triple wrap it in aluminum foil, as tightly as possible. Write the date, contents, and baking instructions on top.

If the contents are hot, stick it in the fridge for a few hours until it has cooled completely, then throw it in the freezer until you’re ready to eat! If you want the quickest baking time, then thaw the tray in the refrigerator for a day before sticking it in the oven.

HOW TO FREEZE MEAT

How to freeze food

Meat is so. darn. expensive. so you definitely want to make sure it doesn’t go to waste! You can easily freeze it in a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible, and it’ll last a good while in your freezer. Just remember to date it and put the contents on the bag.

An even better way to ensure that your meat says fresh is to use a vacuum sealer. Your meat will stay fresh 2-3 times longer when you vacuum seal it versus using a freezer bag! Talk about the savings. If you ever do a major stock-up on meat when it’s on sale, then vacuum sealing it is the way to go.

Pro Tip: Cook a bunch of meat ahead of time and freeze it in meal-sized portions! Shredded chicken, ground beef, pulled pork, whatever your family eats a lot of. This will save you so much time when you need to make a quick, homemade meal for your family!

HOW TO MEAL PREP AND FREEZE FOOD

If you love to meal prep, or find that you often have leftovers you’d like to freeze, then these meal containers are the perfect way to do just that. Take a weekend and prep your meals for the next month so you have convenient grab-and-go meals for lunch.

Some leftovers also freeze really well! If you ever make a meatloaf and mashed potatoes and find that you only have one serving left, but won’t be able to eat it before it goes bad, then freeze it in one of these containers. You basically have a convenient little freezer meal that you made for free-ninety-free rather than paying out the wazoo for one at the store. Winning!

KEEP THAT FREEZER ORGANIZED

Fruits and veggies are some more foods that are super easy to freeze, but can be a pain to keep track of in the freezer. We’ve got a solution for you! Freeze them as flat as possible in a freezer bag. Once they’re fully frozen, move them to a Freezer Cube that keeps them all organized and stacked neatly for you.

KNOW WHAT’S IN YOUR FREEZER

How to freeze food

Our last tip will help you to know what you’ve got in your freezer and when you need to use it by so you’re not wasteful. Ain’t nobody got time to throw away perfectly good food because it went bad!

Keep a running inventory of your freezer, using our handy freezer inventory printable, so you always know what you have. (You can also do the same for the refrigerator and pantry!) Each time you take something out, or add something, mark it on your inventory sheet and notate how much is remaining in the freezer.

Write down the date it went into the freezer so you’ll know when you need to use it by. This will be a game changer for you for sure! No more wasting food because it got lost in the back of your freezer underneath everything else, woot woot!

HOW TO THAW FOOD

Now that you’re a food freezing master, make sure you also know how to thaw your food properly! Don’t worry, we’ve got a whole post with all of those deets that you for sure don’t want to miss out on, so be sure to check that out!

Whew, we did it! You now know all there is to know about how to freeze food the proper way. What’s your favorite food to freeze? Let us know in the comments!

How to freeze food

Looking for more great ideas?

  • These lasagna roll ups are the perfect meal to double and freeze for later!
  • Looking for a great soup recipe? This easy creamy chicken soup is delicious and can be made from leftovers!
  • Wanting to cook some chicken breasts ahead of time to freeze for later? Try these various ways out and see which you like best!

How to freeze food

A simple quick-cooking technique is to make extra food at one meal and freeze for future meals. Or, to prepare food ahead and freeze for enjoying at a later time. One easy method of freezing foods, including liquid foods such as soups and stews, is to freeze them in freezer bags. Following are some general freezing tips, followed by specific tips for freezing in freezer bags.

  • If you’re making extra food at one meal for future meals, separate and refrigerate the portion to be served later BEFORE you put the food on the table. This keeps food quality higher by preventing “planned-overs” from becoming “picked-overs.” It also helps keep food safe.
  • Keep an appliance thermometer in your refrigerator and in your freezer to assure they stay at 40° F or lower (refrigerator) and O° F or lower (freezer). Buy a thermometer at a discount, hardware, grocery store or other store that sells kitchen cooking tools.
  • Refrigerate perishable foods so the TOTAL time they’re at room temperature is less than two hours (or one hour in temperatures above 90° F). As a general guideline, eat perishable foods within four days or freeze them. Perishable foods include: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, dairy products, pasta, rice, cooked vegetables, fresh, peeled and/or cut fruits and vegetables
  • Freeze foods in portion sizes you’ll need for future meals. For example, if there are two in your family and you each eat a cup of rice for a meal, freeze in two-cup portions.

Visit our Storage section for more information on which foods freeze well, how long to store foods in the freezer and MUCH MORE!

STEP 1. Cool foods “slightly” at room temperature before refrigeration

It is not necessary for a food to be completely cool before it is refrigerated. To help food cool slightly before refrigeration:

  • Place a shallow container of food on a cooling rack to allow air to circulate all round the pan for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Limit depth of food to 2 inches.

STEP 2. Complete cooling of foods in the refrigerator

  • Cool foods to refrigerator temperature before bagging them for your freezer. It is OK to refrigerate foods while they’re still warm.
  • LOOSELY cover food upon refrigeration. This allows heat to escape and protects the food from accidental contamination from other foods during cooling.

STEP 3. Pack foods into freezer bags

  • Use “freezer” bags, not “storage” bags for storing food in the freezer. Freezer bags are thicker than storage bags and will keep the food fresh longer.
  • Speed freezing and hasten thawing by freezing foods in a thin, flattened shape in freezer bags. A rounded shape takes longer to thaw through to the middle. Flatter packages also will stack better in your freezer.

STEP 4. Label foods

To avoid mystery meats and other foods of unknown age and possibly origin, label foods using freezer tape, gummed freezer labels or permanent marking pens/crayons. Include:

  • Name of food
  • Packaging date
  • Number of servings or amount
  • Additional helpful information, such as form of food (sliced, chopped, etc.), any special ingredients

Freezing food on a flat tray until frozen solid. It is helpful to place filled freezer bags on a flat surface in your freezer, such as a metal pan. Do not stack freezer bags until frozen so they will freeze faster. After they are frozen solid, the bags may be removed from the pan and stored, stacked, directly on the freezer shelf. Or turn them on their edge and store them vertically. This is an especially good idea when freezing liquid foods, such as soups and stews.

STEP 5. Thaw and cook frozen foods

DO NOT thaw perishable foods at room temperature. If perishable foods are left at room temperature too long, bacteria may grow and produce heat-resistant toxins that can cause food-borne illness. Cooking may not be able to destroy these toxins.

  • It’s best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator.
  • Small items may thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Up to 5 pounds of food should thaw in about 24 hours.
  • If there is the possibility a thawing package might leak, you may want to thaw it on a plate or a pan.

If food is thawed in the microwave, finish reheating it right away. Unlike food thawed in a refrigerator, microwave-thawed foods reach temperatures that encourage bacterial growth. Cook immediately to kill any bacteria that may have developed and to prevent further bacterial growth:

  • Food may be transferred from a freezer bag to a microwave safe container for thawing in the microwave.
  • If the freezer bag manufacturer says it is OK to thaw foods directly in their freezer bag, follow manufacturer’s directions for such things as venting, recommended heat settings, types of foods suitable for microwave-thawing, etc. for that specific bag. Also, follow manufacturer’s directions for your microwave.
  • While you may be able to satisfactorily defrost food in some freezer bags in the microwave (check manufacturer’s directions), DO NOT cook the food in the freezer bag — unless recommended by the freezer bag manufacturer. At the higher temperatures used in the microwave cooking process, it is possible for the plastic to reach melting temperatures.

Freezing and Food Safety, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The Big Thaw – Safe Defrosting Methods, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

This article was originally written by Alice Henneman and Joyce Jensen. It was updated and reviewed in 2021.

Say good-bye to a freezer full of Ziploc bags, Tupperware, and plastic wrap.

How to freeze food

Katherine Martinko is an expert in sustainable living. She holds a degree in English Literature and History from the University of Toronto.

How to freeze food

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

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Plastic still dominates in the freezer, where Ziploc bags and plastic wrap are easy solutions for storing food. This convenience comes with a few problems, though, including leaching chemicals (bisphenols A and S)   and excessive waste. Plastic wrap tends to be single-use and Ziploc bags don’t last forever. They end up in the trash, impossible to recycle.

Going plastic-free is a better solution and much easier than you may think. There are a number of good options available, many of which you may already have at home.

Glass

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Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Mason or Ball jars are very good for freezing, as long as you use the wide-mouth variety and do not fill to the very top. Leave a good inch at least for the contents to expand; you might experience some breakage until you get the hang of it, but it’s a small price to pay for going plastic-free.

Warning

Regular jars are not recommended for freezing because their non-tempered glass can expand and contract with temperature fluctuations and cause breakage and explosions. Use only mason jars, which are made of stronger tempered glass, when storing food in the freezer.

When I fill Mason jars with homemade stock, I leave them open in the freezer for a few hours before screwing on the lids. It is also recommended to pour a 1/2-inch of water over any frozen food in a glass jar to provide further protection from the freezer air; rinse off this ice seal with warm water before thawing the rest of the contents.

You can buy rectangular glass storage containers, but most come with plastic lids. At least they’re indefinitely reusable and don’t have to come into contact with the frozen contents.

Metal

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Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Metal is great in the freezer. You can put opened cans of food directly into the freezer (it’s safer than storing food in a can in the refrigerator). It thaws quickly in a dish of hot water.

I’ve also fallen in love with these stainless steel food storage containers that are airtight, watertight, and freezer-proof. They come in various sizes with a silicone seal that continues to seal well for me after several years of hard use. They are not cheap, but they are by far the favourite containers in my kitchen.

Use metal ice cube trays, muffin tins, or bread tins to freeze smaller quantities of food; then transfer to a container or wrap well for longer-term storage.

Paper

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Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

If you are freezing food for a shorter period of time (2-3 weeks at most), you can wrap in unbleached butcher paper or waxed paper sheets or bags. Butcher paper doesn’t seal the food as well as waxed paper, but it makes a good first-layer wrap. Double or triple for longer freezing periods. Seal any kind of paper wrap with freezer tape.

Aluminum Foil

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Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Foil is fragile, and if there’s a single hole that can mean freezer burn for whatever it contains; but if you’re careful with wrapping, foil is a great option for the freezer. Use heavy-duty foil instead of regular thickness, and seal well with freezer tape.

(Note: I tend to avoid foil because it cannot be recycled locally and ends up in the trash.)

Waxed Cartons

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Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

You can reuse waxed milk, juice, and cream cartons in the freezer. They are especially good for stocks and soups, since they allow for expansion and are waterproof. Cut open at the top, wash out well, and seal up with freezer tape. As with all opaque containers, be sure to label clearly so you know what’s inside.

(On a similar note, you can freezer cartons of milk and cream if they are close to expiry.)

Package-free

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Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Many fruits don’t need packaging of any kind in the freezer, such as tomatoes, bananas, and peaches. Even better, their skins will slip off easily once thawed.

I learned this last summer when someone gave my parents a bushel of peaches just as they were about to leave on a camping trip. Mom had no time to can or prep the peaches for freezing, so she threw them whole into the freezer. For the rest of the winter, she took one peach out every evening and enjoyed it sliced on her granola each morning.

Bakers can make use of frozen eggs without a loss of quality for up to 2 months — if done correctly!

How to freeze food

How to freeze food

Eggs are truly a kitchen marvel, as they can be cooked in so many ways and can keep for over a month in the fridge. While some already know about freezer-friendly make-ahead breakfasts, many home cooks don’t know they can actually save extra raw eggs by freezing them(!). This doesn’t mean you can simply toss a carton into your freezer, though — the trick is preparing eggs to be stored correctly so various parts of the egg can properly freeze on their own.

You can freeze a whole liquid egg entirely or just its whites alone — but freezing egg yolks can be quite tricky and disastrous, explains Penny Stankiewicz, a professional chef and instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. “Egg whites freeze perfectly, and whole eggs whisked together freeze fine as well; however, yolks do not,” she tells Good Housekeeping, adding that they should remain fresh for up to 8 weeks . “Egg yolks contain zero water, and it’s the water content in eggs that freezes, so they don’t behave as well (or as they should!) after being frozen.”

Believe it or not, you may be better off freezing raw eggs than fully cooked eggs, depending on how much time you have to spare in preparation. Below, we’re recapping how to freeze raw and cooked eggs and the pros and cons of each method of freezing.

How to Freeze Raw Eggs:

The best way to freeze an egg is to freeze it in its whole form, Stankiewicz explains, as you cannot freeze eggs in their shells. You can use this method for as many eggs as you’d like (hopefully, at least 3 or 4!). The best way to freeze eggs often involves freezer-friendly plastic storage bags. But if you know you’re going to need these eggs for a certain dish or recipe (bakers, this is all you!), you can portion them out individually in smaller pinch-top bags by freezing the mixture in a plastic ice cube tray first.

Follow these directions for best results:

  1. Beat your eggs until yolks have been incorporated, but not so uniform that you’ve introduced a lot of air into the mixture. Your eggs shouldn’t be foaming.
  2. Pour the egg mixture into a plastic storage bag, or a mold of your choice. If you’re using an ice cube tray, it’s likely translating to a half egg per cube, for recipe planning purposes.
  3. If you’re using a plastic bag, place the sealed bag on a sheet tray or another surface so it lays flat in the freezer (you can remove the tray once it has frozen).
  4. If using a mold, allow the egg mixture to freeze entirely (a few hours at most!).
  5. Remove the mixture from the mold and place it in a tightly sealed plastic bag.
  6. Stack your plastic bags in a cold corner of your freezer.

Egg whites can also be frozen in a similar manner: Simply separate the yolks from the egg, and pour the mixture either into a mold of your choice or a plastic bag. Either of these mixtures can be used for virtually any recipe you have in mind, and according to Stankiewicz, they can be kept for up to a year if the bag is free of air (vacuum sealed if possible!). Try using them in quick scrambles or even as a pre-portioned addition to almost any baking recipe you have in mind.

While the quality is never as good, you can also technically freeze yolks on their own — if you add salt, sugar, or acid to keep them from becoming thick and unusable. “My suggestion is 1tbsp of sugar per pint of yolks,” Stankiewicz says. “It would also help the final product of the beaten whole eggs to add about half the amount of sugar, so about 1/2 tablespoon per pint of whole beaten eggs.”

You’ll need some time to defrost these eggs properly, however; allow them to thaw gradually overnight in the refrigerator to prevent any illnesses. “Eggs have to be kept cold to control foodborne illness risk, especially those that have their shell or outer protective coating removed,” Stankiewicz says. “If you know what you might use them for, prior to freezing, you could portion them out to your required amount so you are only ever defrosting exactly what you need.”

How to Freeze Cooked Eggs:

Freezing eggs that you’ve cooked in advance can be more difficult, as it’s likely that the texture and quality of your breakfast-to-be can suffer if you’re not careful. The best way to freeze cooked eggs is by folding them into other ingredients that’ll hold up well in cold temps; believe it or not, the moisture from the ice formed when freezing certain egg dishes can actually help the eggs taste better when they’re reheated.

How to freeze food

Some of our favorite make-ahead breakfasts are burritos and classic egg sandwiches, which can be held in the freezer for up to a month. Often, a recipe will indicate when cooked eggs can be frozen — and instruct you on how to wrap them beforehand, explains Catherine Lo, a food editor in the Good Housekeeping Institute. In most cases, you’ll need to maintain moisture by adding in a damp paper towel and then wrapping the whole sandwich in tinfoil. You’ll have to reheat your breakfast, likely, in a microwave, which means a damp towel of some kind can help retain steam and keep eggs from entirely drying out.

Making breakfast for the week ahead is easier since you can store cooked eggs in the fridge and simply reheat them in the same manner in which they were cooked. And if you’re looking to preserve hard-boiled eggs, great news — they stay fresh in their shell for up to a full week in the fridge, Lo says. That’s a boon for any Easter gathering or deviled egg enthusiast!

If you’ve been stocking up and are now figuring out how to freeze food then we have you covered. Plus, if you have run out of space, we show you where to buy a new freezer

How to freeze food

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After all that stocking up you may be figuring out how to freeze food, rather than keeping it all in the fridge. So you’ll be pleased to learn that you can in fact store more in the freezer than first thought (we were anyway!). Owning one of the best fridge freezers is essential in any household – especially when you can’t make frequent trips to the shops for fresh ingredients.

By taking foods out of the fridge and putting them into the freezer, you can extend their use-by dates for literally months. Take a whole chicken, for example. This can be kept in the fridge for a day or two, yet in a freezer it will maintain its freshness for up to 12 months. And eggs, when cracked in to a container, can be safely stored in a freezer for up to 12 months too – who knew?!

So it really is essential that you have a freezer for, well, those essential food items at this time. Do bare in mind though that the fridge-freezers, chest freezers, upright freezers and American-style freezers (all the freezers!) are selling out super fast, so it’s worth checking out with one sooner rather than later.

Keep scrolling to see a guide from Tap Warehouse on how to freeze food for the optimum length of time (you’ll be surprised at some of them!)

How to freeze food

How To Use Dry Ice To Freeze Foods

How to freeze food

Quick Tips: Freezing And Reheating Cooked Rice

How to freeze food

Quick Tips: Freezing Fresh Herbs

How to freeze food

Quick Tips: Meat Freezing Tips

How to freeze food

The Best Ways to Freeze and Defrost Food

How to freeze food

The Best Way to Freeze Food: Longer Shelf Life and Rapid Defrosting

How to freeze food

How to Freeze Your Fresh Herbs

How to freeze food

How to Easily Freeze Foods – Quick Cooking Tips

How To Use Dry Ice To Freeze Foods

Feb. 08, 2011

Meats and vegetables taste better if stored frozen using dry ice. How “fid”:”543137″,”viewmode”:”wysiwyg”,”fields”:”format”:”wysiwyg”,”type”:”media”,”attributes”:”alt”:””,”title”:”Use dry ice to preserve the texture and taste of frozen food.”,”style”:”border-style: solid border-width: 3px margin: 7px width: 291px height: 173px float: right”,”class”:”media-element file-wysiwyg”to use dry ice to freeze foods is outlined below. Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide. It does not have any taste or color. Food preservation and transportation use dry ice since dry ice preservation does not cause alteration to texture and taste of food and moreover, dry ice has twice the capacity of regular ice formed from water in keeping food cool. The ice crystals of dry ice are small and hence the integrity of food like meat and vegetables are not compromised on defrosting. Using dry ice food can be stored frozen in two different ways:

Steps To Use Dry Ice For Storage of Food

Take a large piece of dry ice and keep it at the bottom of a clean bucket. Use dry ice in large pieces to ensure that the ice separates from the frozen food easily.

Now, fill the bucket with food that needs to be frozen. Make sure that food is evenly spread out in the bucket. This would ensure even cooling while using dry ice as well as minimize air space inside.

Once the food has been spread, place another piece of dry ice on it. Cover the bucket with its lid but do not seal. Let the freezing occur for 25 to 30 minutes.

Once the food has been frozen, remove the top piece of dry ice piece and keep it aside covered.

Remove frozen food from bucket to food storage and refill bucket with more food to be frozen using dry ice. Repeat the procedure.

The frozen food has to be packaged in freezer bags or vacuum sealed prior to placing in freezer.

Use dry ice to freeze food since the process is simple and food can be stored for a longer time without any change in color and taste.

Defrosting of food frozen using dry ice is similar to all other frozen food.

Use Dry Ice for Quick Freeze

Use dry ice to quick freeze food. Dry ice can bring about quick “fid”:”543138″,”viewmode”:”wysiwyg”,”fields”:”format”:”wysiwyg”,”type”:”media”,”attributes”:”alt”:””,”title”:”Using dry ice for freezing food is a common practice.”,”style”:”border-style: solid border-width: 3px margin: 7px width: 220px height: 149px float: right”,”class”:”media-element file-wysiwyg”freezing of food that allows frozen food to taste as good when fresh. Quick freeze process ensures that there is no build up of ice crystals. Use dry ice carefully and follow certain precautions. Always wear gloves while handling dry ice lest you get freezer burns. Dry ice emits gas and this needs to escape even while being used hence make sure that the lids are not sealed. There should be enough gaps for the gas to dissipate from the buckets or chests where it is being used.

Dry ice is used extensively in the food industry for transporting as well as preserving food. The frozen food industry thrives on the use of dry ice.

Storing food in the freezer

Knowing how to get the best out your freezer helps with meal planning and avoiding food waste.

Freezing is a great way to store food. It will help you save money by planning ahead. And it will help you to cut the amount of food you waste if you get it in the freezer before it goes off.

If food is properly frozen it will stay safe to eat indefinitely, although after a time the taste and texture may suffer.

Whether you have a chest freezer or upright freezer, the principles of good freezing are the same.

What is the correct storage time and temperature for foods in my freezer?

Storage times for frozen foods differs depending on the type of food and type of freezer you have. Freezers have a star rating to let you know how long the food can safely be stored. You should check the star rating, as well as the instructions on packaged frozen food. This will allow you to work out how long you can store the packaged frozen food in your freezer. Also, be aware that freezers should ideally run at -18°C.

Freezer star ratings

* Frozen food compartment Runs at – 6° C and should only store food for up to one week
** Frozen food compartment Runs at -12° C and should only store food for up to one month
*** Frozen food compartment Runs at -18° C and should only store food for up to three months
**** Freezer Runs at -18° C and is suitable for long-term storage (three months or longer)

Food you can freeze

Please note freezer storage times are for quality only. Frozen food will remain safe indefinitely if frozen properly.

Food type

Recommended freezing time frames (if your freezer runs at -18 o C)

When fruits and vegetables are in season, that’s when they taste the best and usually cost the least. That’s why it’s a good idea to learn how to properly freeze fruits and vegetables so you can enjoy their flavor and freshness long after the season’s over. Read on to get tips for freezing, storing, and thawing fruits and vegetables.

Quick Tips: How to Freeze Fruits and Vegetables

  • Choose produce that’s ripe and unblemished.
  • Before freezing vegetables, blanch and shock vegetables by boiling them briefly, drain, then plunge into ice water. Dry thoroughly. Why blanch and shock? Blanching prevents enzymes from damaging color, flavor, and nutrients. Blanching also destroys microorganisms that might be lingering on the surface of produce.
  • Freeze fruits and vegetables quickly by spreading them in a single layer on a rimmed sheet pan.
  • When the produce is frozen solid, store in air-tight containers or freezer bags. Fill hard-sided containers to the top and remove as much air as possible from freezer bags. Be sure to date the packages.
  • Fruits and vegetables freeze best at 0 degrees F or colder.

How to Freeze Fruit

  • Wash fruits and set aside damaged fruit. Some fruits freeze best with a sugar or sugar-syrup preparation. Blueberries, currants, and cranberries do fine without sugar.
  • To freeze delicate berries like strawberries or raspberries: Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a plastic freezer bag or container. You can also prepare delicate berries with sugar or sugar syrup.
  • For fruits that tend to brown, like apples, peaches, nectarines and apricots, treat with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Look for the powdered form in health food stores, drugstores, and some grocery stores in the vitamin aisle. To make an ascorbic acid wash: Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid powder (or finely crushed vitamin C tablets) in 3 tablespoons water. Sprinkle this mixture over the cut fruit. An acceptable substitute: Slice the fruit and dip the slices in an acidulated water bath — about one quart water plus a tablespoon of lemon juice — before drying and freezing.

How to Freeze Vegetables

  • Vegetables that hold up well to cooking (corn, peas) generally freeze well.
  • To freeze vegetables, first blanch them briefly in boiling water. Then quickly submerge the vegetables in ice water to prevent them from cooking. Dry thoroughly on paper towel-lined sheet pans. See more on how to blanch and shock vegetables.
  • Freeze vegetables quickly by spreading them in a single layer on a rimmed sheet pan.
  • When the produce is frozen solid, store in air-tight containers or freezer bags. Fill hard-sided containers to the top and remove as much air as possible from freezer bags. Be sure to date the packages.

Packing Produce for the Freezer

  • The key to packing fruits and vegetables for freezing is to keep moisture inside the package and air outside. Contact with air can cause changes in flavor and color. Pack fruit and vegetables in air-tight containers or moisture-proof, heavy-duty freezer bags, and force out as much air as possible. Wrap freezer bags in heavy-duty foil and seal with freezer tape. Stay away from plastic sandwich bags, which are not heavy-duty enough.
  • A few hours before adding food to the freezer, set the freezer to its coldest setting. And don’t overload the freezer (it will slow the freezing process).

How Long Will Frozen Produce Last in the Freezer?

Store frozen fruits for about a year; vegetables, about 18 months. (Storing longer is fine, but the quality may decline.)

Thawing Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Most vegetables can go directly from freezer to boiling water, though corn does best when allowed to thaw a bit first. Fruits are best when allowed to thaw at room temperature. Delicate berries can turn mushy when thawed completely, so consider using them before they’re thoroughly thawed, such as for baking, in smoothies, or as a topping for ice cream or yogurt.

When frozen, the water in fruits and vegetables expands, causing ice crystals to puncture and break cell walls. As a result, some fruits and vegetables tend to get mushy when thawed. To reduce the amount of cellular damage, freeze produce as quickly as possible: Colder temperatures produce smaller ice crystals, which do less damage to cell walls. The “mushy factor” is also why we recommend using frozen fruits before they have completely thawed.

How to freeze food

How to freeze food

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
4 Calories
0g Fat
1g Carbs
0g Protein

×

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16 to 20
Amount per serving
Calories 4
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 8mg 41%
Calcium 6mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 26mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

When fresh peppers are in season, they’re quite inexpensive, so buying the sweet surplus is a great idea. Also, if you have a garden, pepper plants are quite the producers, with a dozen or more peppers per plant. If you find yourself with too many peppers in your kitchen and not enough recipes to use them in but plenty of space in your freezer, the best course of action is to freeze them for later use.

Some recipes advise blanching peppers in boiling water for a couple of minutes before freezing, but our method simply cleans, chops, and freezes the vegetables for an extra speedy process. There’s no need for fancy equipment; it’s just an organized set of steps that will provide you with ready-to-use peppers for the coming months.

Use the frozen peppers in sauces, soups, and stews, or as part of an omelet or quiche. Sweet and spicy peppers add a ton of flavor to many recipes while also providing great nutrition. The benefits of incorporating bell peppers into your diet include vitamin A, folate, iron, and plenty of fiber, at just 15 calories per 3-ounce serving . Other spicy and milder peppers have similar benefits, and their spiciness isn’t actually a “taste” but a “feeling;” the capsaicin in the peppers creates a response in our cells that our brain reads as “being burned,” so you feel the burn, but don’t taste it. To prep hot peppers for freezing, wear disposable gloves and don’t touch your face.

While the frozen peppers don’t lose flavor, they won’t be quite as crispy once defrosted and so are best suited for cooked recipes. Nonetheless, many find that semi-frozen chunks of peppers are delicious when dipped in hummus or ranch. However, if the lack of crispiness doesn’t bother you, they’re perfectly fine to use uncooked in salads and wraps.

How to freeze food

How to freeze food

Supper time looms, and your stomach rumbles audibly. You’ve had a hankering for a classic shore lunch for a while now, so you raid the freezer for preserved provisions. Your excitement soars lifting the insulated lid, only to find that your bounty hasn’t fared well. The fish you reeled in and carefully cut smells rancid with desiccated edges coated in freezer burn. Wild food takes much effort to procure and process, so it’s sad to see it go to waste. We’ve all done it. I can think of a few times that I went to grab a pack of fish only to discover that dog food was in order—not a fancy dinner. As an angler, it’s important to know how to properly freeze fish.

For anglers fortunate enough to put a limit on the stringer, freezing the catch can preserve the tasty flesh for future meals. But let’s be honest, the best way to eat fish is to not freeze it at all and go straight from the water to the plate. Fish flesh breaks down as the delicate cell membranes burst when they freeze and thaw.

Much of the time though, eating fresh is just not an option—especially if you have a big haul. So, if you spent all that time getting wind- or sunburned you need to have a good system to preserve fillets for later. Enter the art of freezing—and it is an art. With a few simple steps, you can be confident that the next time you dig into the freezer your fish flesh will be almost as good as when you packed it away.

Fresh fish tends to spoil quickly so you need to be cognizant of how you handle it. Keep your fish as cold as possible from when it leaves the water to the time it hits the fillet table. If you’re planning to keep fish when it’s warm out, bring a cooler packed with ice.

How to Prepare Fish for the Freezer

Try not to drop the fish or let it flop around on the ground or in the boat; impacts like these can bruise the flesh. These stressors also make the muscles contract, leading to tougher, bloodier meat. To avoid this, use a stringer, fish basket, or livewell if you don’t have access to a cooler. Keeping the fish alive in the water ensures it will be as fresh as possible when you finally get to processing. When you are ready to clean the fish, make sure to dispatch it quickly with a blunt strike to the top of the head.

Next, remove the guts and gills if you’d like to freeze the fish whole. I like to freeze trout and other smaller fish intact. They thaw perfectly for the smoker or a stuffed trout dinner. There are a lot of great dishes you can make with fish heads, fins, skeletons , and other parts as well. Most folks choose to fillet, however.

Much debate hovers over removal the skin or scales from your fillets. I tend to skin fish with sturdy flesh, such as walleye and catfish, but leave the skin on fish with delicate meat like trout and salmon. That outer membrane will help hold the muscle together, but it does contain the mucus or “slime” layer that protects fish from infection. It’s usually this mucus that creates any “fishy” or unappealing flavor you may have experienced. So, if you’re going to leave the skin on, scrape off the scales and mucus with a scaling tool. A bottle cap, serrated side out, glued or pinned to a popsicle stick works just as well as any commercial scaling tool.

Always clean anything you’ll be freezing with cold, running water and pat dry. The idea is to wash away mucus and bacteria that can create off-flavors in the freezer.

Remember that air is your enemy when freezing fish. Direct exposure to cold air dries out the flesh and changes the color, texture, and taste to a point where it’s inedible. Lean fish species like cod, snapper, pike, and walleye are particularly prone to freezer burn. High-fat fish, such as salmon, trout, and whitefish, are susceptible to going rancid in the freezer. Rancidity is caused when fat cells oxidize from exposure to air, creating a foul scent and flavor.

The 3 Best Ways to Freeze Fish

In my opinion, the three best ways to freeze fish are vacuum sealing, freezer paper combined with freezer plastic or a Ziploc bag, and ice glazing. All three work well to prevent air contact while the fish is frozen.

Vacuum Sealing Fish

I’m a big fan of vacuum sealers. If you haven’t tried one yet, I’d encourage you to consider it. They are a lifesaver for a number of reasons outside of freezing fish. When you begin vacuum sealing, make sure to use a large enough bag and remove any excess water that might prevent the package from sealing. I tend to check periodically on any fish that I’ve vacuum sealed just in case the plastic has been punctured or the seal broken. Handle the sealed fish carefully because ice crystals and pin bones can create tiny pinholes in the bag and let in air. If you end up finding a package that has lost its vacuum, remove the fish and seal it in a new bag. Vacuum sealing is a great and efficient method for separating fish into meal-sized portions that will thaw quickly without making a mess.

Using Freezer Paper to Store Fish

Freezer paper is my dad’s favorite way to keep fish firm and fresh. This method is more durable than vacuum bags. Dad prefers to freeze fillets in fryer batches, which he first packs into a Ziploc freezer bag, removes the air, then wraps in freezer paper. I’ve used packages of fish from him that are over a year old, and they were as fresh as if they’d been frozen yesterday. I can say with confidence that this works great. A suitable substitute for the Ziploc is plastic freezer wrap. Sure, pre-wrapping the fish and then using freezer paper, which has a plastic coating on the inside, might seem like overkill, but going the extra mile will give you comfort in knowing that the fish is good to go.

Ice Glazing Fish

The third option is to glaze the fish by dipping them in ice-cold water and putting the dipped fish in the freezer on a pan lined with parchment paper. Preferably use a deep freezer for the coldest temperature possible. Let that water freeze, then repeat the process until the fish has a thick ice glaze of ice between ⅛- to a ¼-inch thick. For storage, you can either vacuum seal the fillets or wrap in plastic bags.

How Long Do Fish Last in the Freezer?

Properly frozen fish will retain its freshness for a year or more. If you follow one of these methods, you should have no worries when you decide to have your next fish fry. Just remember to gradually thaw the fish in the refrigerator or under cold, running water. There’s nothing better than a pan of fresh fish straight from the water, but with proper technique and respect for the animal, your frozen fish can be damn close.

How to freeze food How to freeze food

A while ago, I sent out an email to the good people on the stonesoup email list asking what their biggest problems are when it comes to cooking. I also asked if there was anything in particular that people wanted to learn more about.

Freezing food popped up in quite a few responses, so I figured it was about time to discuss the ins and outs of freezing food at home. Today I thought I’d cover the golden rules of freezing and in a few weeks we’ll look at the art of defrosting safely.

It’s also the perfect excuse to share the recipe for a great little salad. A salad where good old frozen peas are the star of the show. My Irishman and I shared this for lunch on Friday and it was wonderful. But I’m also thinking it would make a great side salad to serve with a simple roast chicken.

the golden rules of freezing food

1. don’t refreeze raw food
Freezing doesn’t kill food spoilage yeasts and bacteria. It slows them down dramatically but, they’re still alive. Once food is defrosted, the little critters can get going quite quickly, so if you freeze the food again, you can be freezing much higher levels of microbes that may make the food unsafe to eat. By sticking to rule number 1, you minimise the risk.

2. it is OK to thaw food, cook it and then refreeze
By cooking the food you’re effectively killing the yeasts and bacteria and bringing the food back to safe levels. So think of it as starting with a clean slate.

3. cool your food before freezing
The problem with putting hot food in the freezer is that it can increase the internal freezer temperature for a while and possibly start to defrost the already frozen food. It makes more sense to cool first but make sure you’re not leaving food sitting around for long periods of time at room temperature.

4. freeze things asap
Freezing is a great food preservation technique but it’s only going to be as good as the food that goes in. Best to freeze food at it’s freshest so that it will be at it’s best once defrosted. The wonderful sweetness we take for granted in frozen peas wouldn’t be possible if the peas were old when frozen.

5. choose appropriate packaging / containers
The air in your the freezer is very dry, otherwise you end up with the insides of your freezer looking more like an igloo. If your food is exposed to the air, it’s going to loose moisture, dry out and get that awful freezer burn look and flavour. Don’t assume that all plastic bags are going to protect your food in the freezer. Best to go with bags that are designed for freezer use. Or better yet, invest in some pyrex containers that can go from freezer to oven.

6. allow for expansion
Water, and therefore food, expands when it freezes. Make allowances for this and avoid messy explosions.

7. freeze smaller portions
There are 2 benefits here. First is that smaller volumes will freeze and defrost more quickly. Second is that you can just defrost and use what you need rather than having a whole heap of food on your hands. As my Dad found out recently when he splurged on gluten free bread and popped them all in the freezer without slicing.

things that love to be frozen

* Bread. Just slice it first!
* Soups, stews and stocks
* Cooked rice. Great to have on hand for egg fried rice.
* Meat & fish – although they will loose some moisture upon thawing,
* Bacon. Great to keep on hand for when there’s an emergency call for pork products
* Bananas. Great for making banana bread or if you remember to peel them first almost instant ‘ice cream’
* Berries. If you ever find yourself with a berry glut, freeze them in a single layer on a tray. Then pop them in a freezer bag or container.
* Pastry. I always make more than I need then freeze the rest for later.
* Fresh chilli, horseradish, tumeric & ginger. Great to have on hand
* Herbs. While they will loose their fresh appearance, the flavour will still be great. Especially good for the woody herbs like rosemary & thyme.

things that don’t freeze so well

* Dairy products – except for butter
* Whole eggs – because they crack on expanding
* High moisture fruit & vegetables – like celery or lettuce. When the water expands it damages the vegetable cell walls which turns them to mush when they thaw out.
* Garlic. OK I’m not 100% convinced on this but Maggie Beer says that freezing garlic changes the flavour. Interested to hear if anyone knows about this.
* Jam. The pectin which causes the jam to gel breaks down at freezing temperatures.
* Mayonnaise.

What about your freezing experiences? Anything I’ve forgotten to include here?

How to freeze food

Frozen Pea Salad with Bacon

serves 2

When I was little, peas were my most hated vegetable. For years I’ve avoided them like the plague and have been picking the little green devils out from all my meals.

These days I’ve learned to love the pea. First step was mashing them so they didn’t look so pea-like. Then I moved on to fresh peas I podded myself. Nowadays I think they’re my favourite frozen vegetable. Who would have thought?

If you’re feeding vegetarians, the bacon could be replaced with little batons of smoked tofu or a few handfuls of toasted nuts. Flaked almonds or pinenuts would be lovely.

I have a bit of an obsession with sherry vinegar, but feel free to swap in your favourite wine vinegar or even lemon juice. I used green oak lettuce and baby peas here, but any combination of leaves and peas would would be great.

4 slices bacon, cut into little batons
250g (1/2lb) frozen peas
1/2 bunch mint, leaves picked
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 medium lettuce, leaves picked, washed & dried

1. Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan.

2. Cook bacon, stirring occasionally for a few minutes, or until crisp and delicious. Remove bacon from the pan and drain on paper towel.

3. Add peas to the pan and cook stirring for a few minutes or until starting to shrivel a little. Stir through mint and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Remove from the heat. Taste & season.

4. Meanwhile, whisk to combine the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar with 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large bowl. Season.

5. When you’re ready to serve, toss leaves in the dressing and divide between 2 plates. Spoon over peas and finally sprinkle with bacon.

With love,
Jules x

ps. Tired of deciding what to cook?

How to freeze food

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] L[/dropcap]ooking for a weekly meal planning service where someone else comes up with the ideas for what to have for dinner?

How to freeze food

Freezer Friendly…have you ever eaten something after it’s been frozen then reheated and it not taste that great; dry, lacking flavor, or had a strange texture. Well, that is probably because the meal wasn’t freezer friendly. I have spent years freezing just about every food imaginable and I am going to share with you ALL of my tips for freezing and reheating your meal prep recipes.

How to freeze food

The first thing you need to know is what you should and should not freeze:

Foods that freeze well:

  • Bananas, peeled
  • Berries
  • Bread, in slices
  • Butter
  • Cake
  • Casseroles
  • Cooked Pasta
  • Cooked Rice, best when in sauce
  • Eggs, cooked or cracked into small containers
  • Fish, raw. Once fish has been cooked, it shouldn’t be frozen again
  • Flour
  • Granted Cheese
  • Herbs
  • Mayo
  • Meat
  • Most Vegetables, veggies made up of mostly water don’t freeze well
  • Nuts
  • Pastries
  • Sauces
  • Soups
  • Stock
  • Wilted Cooked Greens
  • Wine

Foods that do NOT freeze well:

  • Cucumbers, shrivels
  • Eggs in their Shell, they will crack before frozen and make a mess
  • Deep Fried Food, crispy coating turns to mush
  • Garlic Cloves, shrivel and loses flavor
  • Leafy Greens, get soggy and lose their crisp texture
  • Milk, becomes lumpy
  • Sour Cream, separates after freezing
  • Uncooked Celery, shrivels
  • Uncooked Onions, turn mushy

The above list will help you decide, if what you are wanting to freeze will or will not turn out delicious once it is defrosted and reheated.

Now that you know what freezes well, lets talk about how to freeze your meal prep:

When it comes to freezing your meal prep or leftover food, there are a few things you have to do with just about every recipe.

  1. Let the recipe cool completely before closing the container or placing it in the freezer. Failing to allow the dish to cool completely will cause condensation build up and cause the food to become freezer burnt. Also placing warm food into your freezer can compromise other foods bringing them back to an unsafe temperate and then freezing again.
  2. Place the meal or ingredients in a freezer safe sealable container. Typically a zip lock bag or plastic container. Not all zip lock bags are created equal, the freezer safe ones are made of thicker plastic and protect the food from freezer burn better.
  3. I don’t recommend freezing in glass containers as they can crack easily with a rapid change of temperature.
  4. Freeze individual portions whenever possible. This speeds up the time it takes to defrost and helps to prevent waste. Typically you should not defrost something more than once, therefore if you freeze large servings and don’t eat it all, that food should not be frozen again.
  5. Try to get as much air out of the container or zip lock bag as possible. While it is not possible to get every bit of air out, it will help to reduce freezer burn getting as much air out as possible. If you do a lot of freezing I recommend getting a Vacuum Sealer and or use Souper Cubes.
  6. Write the name and date of the recipe on the outside of your container. This will remind you of what the frozen meal is and how long it has been in the freezer. I like to use a piece of masking tape.

Tip of Freezing Casseroles:

Before your initial cook of a casserole, line your casserole dish with tin foil or parchment paper, and allow for a little over hang. Once you casserole has cooled completely you will be able to either pop the casserole out using the overhang, then wrap it to freeze. Or you can freeze it first to allow a little more structure, then pop it out, wrap it, and place right back in the freezer. This allows you to still have access to the casserole dish for other recipes instead of having it frozen in the freezer.

How to Properly Thaw and Reheat your Meal Prep and Leftovers:

In most cases you need to defrost your freezer friendly meal prior to reheating and eating them. I highly recommend taking your frozen meal prep out of the freezer the night before and allow it to thaw in the fridge over night.

Trying to rush the thawing process by allowing them to thaw at room temperature or in warm/hot water can lead to food poisoning.

After thawing in the fridge you can reheat the meals with any of the methods listed here in the guide to reheating your meal prepped food.

When it comes to freezing and reheating your meal prepped food, it is important that you follow the guidelines to prevent unwanted bacteria, freezer burn, and other concerns that could lead to health issues. Following proper food safety guidelines is always the way to go.

By Tatiana Morales

January 17, 2005 / 12:34 PM / CBS

Whether you use your freezer to stash leftovers or to hold the fixings for a fast meal, you want your frozen food to taste delicious when it thaws. Unfortunately, if you don’t store the food correctly, you’ll wind up with a bad case of freezer burn – or worse.

So the folks at Real Simple magazine have compiled a list of “freezer fundamentals” – things you’ll want to know before you put anything else in your icebox.

What is freezer burn? The magazine offers the following definition: “Freezer burn occurs when air dries out the surface of foods, toughening the texture and worsening the flavors. The burn is easy to identify (it’s frosty and gray), and can be prevented . If your ice crystal-scorched food hasn’t been in the freezer longer than the recommended storing time, cut off the offending area as it thaws and cook as planned. Keep in mind: There’s nothing unsafe about freezer burn. It might not taste good, but it’s not going to make anyone sick.”

In an effort to keep frozen food from freezer burn and maintain its original flavor, Kris Connell visits The Early Show to offer the following four tips.

Use the Right Gear: You must use containers, bags and wraps designed for the freezer. These are thick enough to keep moisture in and freezer odors out. Even when you double up regular sandwich bags or plastic wrap, they are simply not thick enough to do the job. If you intend to freeze something long-term in glass, make sure the glass is tempered or specifically labeled freezer safe.

Freeze in Small Portions: The faster food freezes, the fresher it will taste when thawed. Clearly large portions, frozen in large containers, take longer to freeze. So, small portions are the way to go.

Squeeze Out Excess Air: Where there’s air, there is freezer burn. Get as much air as possible out of bags, and if putting food in a plastic/glass container, make sure that the food fills the entire container. However, there is an exception. When freezing soups, sauces or stews, you want to be sure and leave a bit of space at the top of the container to prevent the liquid, which expands as it freezes, from freezing to the lid. Soups and stews keep in the freezer for two to three months.

Stash Strategically: Wait for hot foods to cool before freezing. Then, when placing in the freezer, initially leave plenty of space around the container so cold air can circulate around it. This allows the item to freeze faster and thus taste fresher down the road. Once it’s fully frozen, you can stack it with everything else in the freezer.

Here is how you should freeze the following items:

  • Berries and other small “squishable” items such as hors d’oeuvres, meatballs, cooked ravioli: Spread on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then transfer them to a plastic bag or other container. This method will prevent them from clumping together as they freeze.
  • Casseroles: No need to hold your casserole dish hostage in the freezer while you wait to eat its contents. Line the dish with foil and then assemble the uncooked dish in it. Wrap, freeze until solid, and then lift out the foil and the contents. Transfer the block to the freezer until you’re ready to thaw and cook. FYI: casseroles keep in the freezer for about three months.
  • Liquids: Freeze broths, sauces and other liquids flat in freezer bags, then stand them up sideways for storage. Not only will they take up less space in the freezer, they will thaw much faster when you’re ready to use; the greater the surface area, the faster the thaw.
  • Bread and Bagels: Slice bread and halve bagels before freezing so you can easily remove the number of servings you need once frozen. Also, slip the bagel halves into the freezer bag back-to-back so they’re less likely to stick together.
  • Cake: To preserve frosted cake (whole or a slice) place it in the freezer uncovered until the frosting is firm – about two hours. Wrap in plastic, then in foil. To thaw, unwrap the foil and the plastic, then reshape the foil so it creates a tent over the cake. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Pancakes/Waffles: Let them cool, separate with wax paper to prevent sticking, then freeze in resealable plastic bags.

Photo Source: National Center for Home Food Preservation

Quick Links to Freezing Topics on This Page

  1. Freezing Foods – general information
  2. Freezing Vegetables
  3. Tomatoes and Tomato Products
  4. Freezing Fruits
  5. Freezing Meats / Animal Products
  6. Freezing Meals / Advanced Preparation of Foods
  7. Other Food Products
  8. Other Freezing Questions – includes foods that don’t freeze well

Freezing Foods

  • How do I freeze? (Source: National Center for Home Food Preservation [NCHFP])
  • How to blanch food for freezing – necessary for almost all vegetables (Source: NCHFP)

Freezing Vegetables

Tomatoes and Tomato Products

  • Freezing Raw Tomatoes with and without their Skins (UNL Extension)
  • Tomatoes (Source: NCHFP)

Freezing Fruits

  • Freezing Strawberries (UNL Extension and Buy Fresh, Buy Local® Nebraska brochure) Questions or comments about this brochure? Contact the author Julie Albrecht, PhD, RD
  • Peaches (Source: NCHFP)
  • Apricots (UNL Extension and Buy Fresh, Buy Local® Nebraska brochure) Questions or comments about this brochure? Contact the author Julie Albrecht, PhD, RD
  • Pears (Source: NCHFP)
  • Freezing Rhubarb (UNL Extension and Buy Fresh, Buy Local® Nebraska brochure) Questions or comments about this brochure? Contact the author Julie Albrecht, PhD, RD
  • Tray freezing apple slices for multiple uses (Source: Cook it Quick)
  • Link to a list of ALL fruits (and other foods) listed on NCHFP site

Freezing Meats / Animal Products

  • Meats
  • Freezing Animal Products; (8 page brochure, PDF) Includes meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, eggs)
  • Poultry and game birds
  • Resources for home preserving venison (inlcudes canning, freezing, curing & drying)
  • Fish

Freezing Meals / Advanced Preparation of Foods

  • Freezing Prepared Foods including packaging and storage recommendations (Source: NCHFP)
  • Freezing Cooked Food for Future Meals: Freezer Bag Tips (Source: Cook It Quick)
  • Can You Freeze These Foods?(Source: Cook It Quick)
  • Freezing Cheese (Source: Cook It Quick)
  • Freezing Sandwiches (Source: Cook It Quick)

Other Food Products on NCHFP Site

  • Fresh herbs
  • Jam
  • Whipped cream
  • Link to a list of ALL foods listed on NCHFP site

Other Freezing Questions

  • Most Frequently Asked Freezing Questions (Source: NCHFP)
  • Resources for Home Freezing (Source: NCHFP)
  • Foods that don’t freeze well (Source: NCHFP)
  • How to blanch food for freezing (Source: NCHFP)
  • Freezer containers (Source: NCHFP)
  • Thawing and preparing frozen food (Source: NCHFP)
  • What to do if the freezer stops (Source: University of Georgia Extension)
  • Approximate Yields for Canned or Frozen Fruits and Vegetables (Source: Clemson University Cooperative Extension). Weights of produce, such as for bushels, crates, lugs, etc. They also tell the pounds of produce needed for 1 quart jar or container. NOTE: Tomatoes are in the fruit section.)
  • Is it safe to eat a food that has freezer burn? (Source: USDA)
  • Freezing and food safety | PDF version ( Source: USDA)
  • Recommended refrigerator and freezer temperatures

Quick Links to Canning, Freezing & Drying Sections

Other

  • Approximate Yields for Canned or Frozen Fruits and Vegetables; Weights and Measures (Source: Clemson University Cooperative Extension) Weights of produce, such as for bushels, crates, lugs, etc (scroll down the page). They also tell the pounds of produce needed for 1 quart jar or container. NOTE: Tomatoes are in the fruit section.
  • Freezer Tips from our Food Storage pages
  • Approximate Yields for Canned or Frozen Fruits and Vegetables; Weights and Measures (Source: Clemson University Cooperative Extension) Weights of produce, such as for bushels, crates, lugs, etc (scroll down the page). They also tell the pounds of produce needed for 1 quart jar or container. NOTE: Tomatoes are in the fruit section.

▸Email contact for Home Food Preservation webpages: Carol Larvick

Linda Huyck – October 4, 2017

Updated from an original article written by Lisa Treiber, [email protected]

The type of container you choose when freezing food can make a difference in the quality of the end product.

Every year consumers call the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Meat and Poultry Hotline and Michigan State University Extension asking if food items are safe in their home freezers. Understanding the concepts from the USDA can help avoid some of the freezing confusion.

Freezing food and maintaining it at 0° Fahrenheit will keep it safe. The quality could suffer during lengthy freezer storage. Freezing keeps food safe by slowing down the movement of molecules, causing microbes to enter a dormant stage. The freezing process preserves food for extended periods because it prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause both food spoilage and foodborne illness.

Proper packaging materials for freezing food protects the flavor, color, moisture content and nutritive value of foods from the harsh climate inside the freezer. Using inappropriate containers will give your food inadequate protection and reduce the quality of the product.

Exactly which container to choose depends on the type of food to be frozen and your personal preference. Do not freeze fruits and vegetables in containers with a capacity over one-half gallon. Foods in larger containers freeze too slowly which results in an unsatisfactory product. In general, packaging materials must have these characteristics:

  • Moisture vapor resistant
  • Durable and leak proof
  • Do not become brittle and crack at low temperatures
  • Resistant to oil, grease and water
  • Protect food from absorption of off-flavors or odors
  • Easy to seal
  • Easy to mark

Cartons for cottage cheese, ice cream and milk do not resist moisture vapor sufficiently to be suitable for long-term freezer storage.

Rigid containers and flexible bags or wrapping are two general types of packaging materials that are safe for freezing.

Rigid containers made of plastic or glass are suitable for all packs and are especially good for liquid packs. Straight sides on rigid containers make the frozen food much easier to remove. Rigid containers are often reusable and make storage in the freezer easier because they can be stacked.

Regular glass jars break easily at freezer temperatures. Choose wide mouth, dual-purpose jars made for freezing and canning if you wish to use glass. These jars have been tempered to withstand extreme temperatures and the wide opening allows easy removal of partially thawed food. Covers on rigid containers should fit tightly, if they do not, reinforce the seal with freezer tape. Freezer tape is especially designed to stick at freezing temperatures.

Flexible freezer bags and moisture vapor resistant wrapping materials such as plastic freezer wrap, freezer paper and heavyweight aluminum foil are also suitable for dry packed products with little or no liquid. Bags can also be used for liquid packs. Bags and wraps work well for foods with irregular shapes. Remove as much air as possible before closing for best results.

Ensure that your efforts to freeze foods result in delicious meals at a later date. Remember that the type of container you choose when freezing food can make a difference in the quality of the end product. Your choice of proper freezer packaging materials makes for tastier food.

MSU Extension recommends you also keep an appliance thermometer in your freezer. In the event of a power outage, this device will help you determine if your food is still safe to keep or consume. Following these simple guidelines will allow your foods to remain safe while frozen.

Michigan State University Extension offers programs related to food preservation, food safety, food health and more. To find a program near you visit http://msue.anr.msu.edu/events.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit https://extension.msu.edu. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit https://extension.msu.edu/newsletters. To contact an expert in your area, visit https://extension.msu.edu/experts, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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Wondering how to freeze your fresh vegetables? Here’s a quick tutorial for freezing your fresh vegetables, including broccoli, kale, cauliflower, potatoes, and similar items.

Why freeze fresh vegetables?

There are several reasons why you would want to freeze fresh vegetables. Here’s a few reasons:

  • Food budgeting – if you’re using a tight food budget, rationing food is important for maintaining your food budget. Freezing your fresh vegetables and portioning into single servings will help you maintain your food budget.
  • Food insecurity – possibly you live in an area where there are very few grocery stores and farmers markets. Most likely, you shop for a week or month of food at a time. If so, freezing your fresh vegetables is a good idea so your vegetables will last throughout the month.
  • Self quarantine – possibly you are reading this article during the coronavirus self quarantine time period in the USA or beyond. If you’re planning to stay home for the next several weeks or months, freezing your fresh vegetables is important so you can enjoy vegetables throughout the self quarantine.
  • Meal prep – freezing your fresh vegetables is also meal prepping. If you cook and portion your fresh vegetable supply, then you’ve essentially meal prepped your own homemade meal kits. This is a great way maintain homemade meals during a busy week.

Freezing fresh vegetables is easy with a little planning ahead. Here’s the basic idea of what you’ll be doing to freeze your fresh vegetables:

  • Step 1: Wash your vegetables.
  • Step 2: Prep your vegetables into cubes, slices, or shredded/grate using a food processor or grater.
  • Step 3: Steam or boil your vegetables for 3-5 minutes (this is an important step to maintaining freshness and avoiding mushy vegetables.)
  • Step 4: Transfer cooked vegetables to icy cold water (use a bowl with very cold water or ice water). Chill vegetables completely, for about 1-2 minutes in the cold water.
  • Step 5: Transfer cooled vegetables to the freezer either in plastic bags, on a baking sheet, or in muffin tins.

Tips for freezing vegetables in plastic bags

Store frozen vegetables in ziploc freezer bags for easy rationing and storage. Wash and reuse these bags to minimize waste. Press all of the air out of the bag prior to freezing. Prior to placing food into the freezer bags, consider freezing the vegetables on a baking sheet or in a muffin to prevent food from freezing into one giant block.

Tips for freezing vegetables on a baking sheet

A good practice for freezing vegetables (and almost anything else) is to first freeze them on a flat baking sheet. This is called “open freezing”. This allows you to freeze the vegetables separately to avoid one giant block of frozen vegetables. Place cooked and chilled vegetables onto a parchment lined baking sheet and into the freezer for about four hours, or until frozen solid. Then, transfer vegetables to freezer bags for long term storage.

Tips for freezing vegetables in a muffin tin

Muffin tins are great for freezing fresh vegetables. Once you’ve cooked and chilled your vegetables, portion them into 1/2 cup servings (or less) in a muffin tin. This is helpful for both freezing vegetables without creating one giant block, as well as meal planning and rationing. Lightly grease the muffin tins or line them with parchment paper, however this is generally not necessary because most often the food will easily pop out when frozen. Allow food to freeze for about four hours in muffin tins, or until solid, prior to transferring to a freezer bag.

Tips for freezing meal kits

A good idea when freezing vegetables is to consider making meal kits at the same time. You can easily add several different frozen vegetables, sauces, cooked legumes, cooked whole grains and other items to one bag. This will create an easy-to-reheat meal kit, such as a stir-fry, smoothie, or similar dish.

Print this tutorial and save in your recipe binder:

At Nurture Life, we’re all about making life easier for busy parents through our wholesome, kid-friendly meal delivery . Just because our meals are freshly made, though, doesn’t mean they can’t be frozen too!

If you want a spontaneous date night or have last-minute evening obligations, having your kid’s favorite in the freezer makes for the perfect backup. Just follow these simple instructions on how to freeze meals from Nurture Life and reheat them anytime you need a fast, nutritious meal!

Two Simple Ways to Reheat Nurture Life Meals

How to freeze food

Method #1: Thaw Before Heating

You’ll need to plan ahead for this method, as it requires up to 24 hours of thaw time.

Step by Step

  1. Place the meal in the freezer before the use by date.
  2. Put the frozen meal in the fridge and let it thaw overnight. (Thaw times vary but may take anywhere from 12–18 hours for baby meals and 18–24 hours for toddler and kids meals.)
  3. Microwave or oven-heat the meal as normal, following the directions on the package.

Important Tip : Don’t have time to thaw in the fridge? Then we recommend skipping to the second method below! Avoid the temptation to speed things up by thawing meals on the counter, as according to the USDA , room-temperature thawing encourages bacterial growth.

Method #2: Heat From Frozen

If you suddenly find yourself in need of a last-minute meal, there’s no need to panic! You can also reheat Nurture Life meals directly from the freezer. (Note that this method only works for meals served in trays, as our baby food jars cannot be heated.)

Step by Step

  1. Place the meal in the freezer before the use by date.
  2. Remove the meal from the freezer.
  3. Heat the meal as normal in the oven or microwave, following the directions on the package.

Important Tip : The time required to heat meals from frozen varies, but 3–5 minutes in the microwave is typically sufficient. We recommend starting at a lower cook time, removing the dish periodically to stir and heating longer as required.

Through these two methods, Nurture Life’s freshly made meals become super easy meals to freeze and reheat . Whichever reheating method you choose, be sure to eat the meals within 90 days of freezing!

How to freeze food

Some of Our Favorite Freezer Tips and Tricks

Running out of room between bags of veggies and pints of frozen yogurt? You don’t have to buy a commercial-grade freezer to solve the problem! With a few smart kitchen organization hacks , you can use your freezer more intentionally—meaning less food waste, easier meal prep and enough room for Nurture Life meals if you need it.

Here are four easy freezer tips to make better use of your space.

1. Freeze in portions.

Take some time upfront to freeze more mindfully, and you’ll never have to battle giant blocks of icy food again!

  • Fresh fruit : Lay fruit pieces in a single layer on a tray. Let them fully freeze before bagging so that a few pieces can be added to healthy breakfast smoothies without all clumping together.
  • Broth or stock : Use popsicle molds or bento-style containers to freeze small portions of soups and other liquids. Once they’re frozen solid, place into a zip-top bag.
  • Fresh veggies : Chop your favorite kid-friendly veggies , blanch them to preserve flavor and freeze them on a tray before bagging.
  • Bread : Before freezing a loaf of bread, place parchment paper between slices so that they stay easy to pull apart.
  • Herbs and spices : Chop fresh herbs and spices and then freeze them by the teaspoon in an ice cube tray before bagging.

2. Store flat.

Once you’ve bagged your pre-portioned frozen foods, flatten the bags as much as possible and stack them horizontally on your freezer shelves. You’ll probably fit way more than you imagined!

With the ability to stack so many bags, you may even wonder, “ Can a freezer be overloaded? ” The answer is yes—but don’t worry about it too much. A full freezer actually helps keep food cold, and you only need to leave a small amount of space for air to circulate.

3. Remove air.

Exposure to oxygen creates the brownish-gray tint and acrid taste of freezer-burnt food. While mild freezer burn doesn’t affect food safety, it definitely impacts flavor, color and texture.

Squeeze out as much air as possible from zip-top bags. For extra protection, wrap meats tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing them into an airtight container.

4. Label your food.

One of the most common reasons for freezer overload is the tendency to “freeze it and forget it.” Labeling is a great way to avoid this issue and can be done with masking tape and a permanent marker. Write what each dish is and its date of freezing, and you’ll turn a chaotic freezer into a well-organized collection of easy meals to freeze and reheat .

Fortunately, when it comes to Nurture Life meals, you won’t have to think about these freezer tips ! All of the meals on our weekly menus come pre-portioned, tightly sealed and clearly labeled. No additional prep, packaging or portioning required.

Okra is rich in antioxidants and a good source of vitamins A and C. It’s also a delicious southern staple, versatile enough to star in dishes as different as fried okra and seafood gumbo. It’s a good vegetable to have on hand, but unfortunately, it’s only in season during the warmer months. Luckily, it’s easy to freeze okra so you can enjoy it recipes all year around. To get you started, we talked to Shaun Garcia, executive chef at Soby’s New South Cuisine in Greenville, South Carolina about how to freeze okra. Just follow the steps below.

What You’ll Need

  • A small knife
  • Paper towels
  • Baking pans
  • Freezer bags

How to Freeze Okra

  1. Wash the fresh okra and pat it dry to remove any excess moisture.
  2. Take a small knife and slice the okra into ½ inch rounds (Garcia suggests keeping a paper towel handy to keep your knife blade clean and dry as you go along).
  3. Spread the okra onto baking pans until you have enough to fill a large freezer bag.
  4. Once you fill your freezer bag, be sure to squeeze out all of the excess air before you seal the bag and place the okra in the freezer. Frozen okra keeps for about 6 months – long enough to carry you to next season.

How to Prepare Okra

Garcia says the best way to use frozen okra depends on the dish you plan to make. If you’re going to use the okra in a delicious tomato soup, homemade vegetable soup, or an authentic gumbo recipe, he says you can add the okra into the pot straight from the freezer.

If you are going to fry okra for a dish like our Crunchy Okra and Corn Salad, Garcia suggests taking the okra out of the freezer to let it sit for five minutes first. Next, he says to pour buttermilk over the frozen okra to form a frozen buttermilk shell. Dredge the okra in equal parts flour and cornmeal with salt and pepper to taste. Fry in 350-degree oil in small batches until the okra is golden brown.

A stocked icebox can make life easier in unpredictable COVID-19 times

by Samantha Lande, AARP, October 26, 2020

How to freeze food

En español | When COVID-19 hit, many people realized that freezers could do much more than hold a few frozen pizzas and ice cream. It became an essential part of food storage in the kitchen and a way to prepare in an increasingly erratic time.

When it comes to shortages of certain food items, limiting trips to the grocery store to prevent virus exposure, and stocking up on prepared meals in case of illness or to deliver to a struggling friend, the freezer plays an essential role.

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But keep a few things in mind so you end up with the ingredients you need or a delicious meal, while avoiding dreaded freezer burn. Here’s how to get the most out of your cold food storage.

Avoid freezer burn

To stave off the icicles that can make their way into frozen foods, make sure you are freezing items properly. For starters, always freeze food once it has cooled down, not while it’s still hot. Make sure you get as much air out of your storage container as possible and seal tightly to prevent air from getting in and causing freezer burn.

You don’t need fancy packaging to freeze things. Plastic “freezer bags can work great for things like soup, plus they can freeze flat so they take up less room,” says executive chef Jeff Stamp of Hampton + Hudson in Atlanta.

How to freeze food

If you are freezing leftovers, wrap them in foil first for extra protection before putting them into a zip-top plastic bag. A vacuum sealer to suck all the air out helps food last just a little bit longer.

You’ll also want to make sure to freeze what private chef Ian Martin calls “mono meals,” or each type of food separately, since you’d typically reheat at the same temperature and time. If, for example, you’ve frozen a meal of pork chops, green beans and potatoes all in the same container, reheating can get tricky. “It’s the worst when you have a perfect burger, but your broccoli is overheated and gummy,” Martin says.

Organize your freezer space

You should have a variety of foods in your freezer. To save trips to the grocery store this winter, make sure to have a selection of healthy staple items — chicken, fish, frozen vegetables and fruits, and maybe even a few healthy frozen meals in a pinch. We won’t tell if you stash your favorite ice cream or chocolate in the freezer, too.

Most importantly, don’t let your freezer become a bottomless pit where you can’t find anything. Create an organizational system for your freezer — just like you would for the fridge or pantry.

“The number one thing I’m going to recommend that you do is to label the foods that you freeze,” says Amy Gorin, a registered dietitian in the New York City area who specializes in plant-based foods. “Add the dates and use the first-in, first-out system so that you place older items toward the front of the freezer, so they get used up first.”

Extend the life of ingredients

Overripe bananas, spinach that’s just starting to wilt and a garden surplus are all great ingredients to put in the freezer. Chef Andrew Iwansky from restaurant Datz in Tampa loads up berries at the end of each summer to use throughout the year. He throws them in yogurt and smoothies, cooks them into oatmeal or adds them to pancakes.

Martin consumes lots of fruits and vegetables to help stay healthy and combat stress, but he cautions, “Keep in mind that high-water-content foods will be best for juicing/blending, not great for thawing and eating.” So throw those extra vegetables into a smoothie or soup.

You can even freeze fresh herbs in an ice cube tray. You can either place chopped herbs in the tray and pour boiling water over them (to blanch them and retain color) before you freeze them, or you can freeze them in olive oil to create an infused oil great for pastas. Just pop out a cube to add to sauces, dressings or pastas. It doesn’t hurt to just have a few bags of store-bought frozen vegetables on hand, too, for a quick side or addition to fried rice or pastas.