LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How To Freeze Food -- Timeline, Tips and Don'ts

How To Freeze Food -- Timeline, Tips and Don'ts
Photo Source - Thanks Anna

I have been trying to freeze more foods lately. It saves money, I am not wasting food because the leftovers are not getting eaten, and it actually will preserve the food's freshness. I realized I had a lot to learn when it came to freezing foods. There are so many things that can be frozen that I never knew, shredded cheese, soups, certain fruits. I think I am going to start doing this a lot more often. Especially now that I am finding some good deals at the grocery store. Usually you have to buy in bulk to get the savings, so I never took the deal because it is just the two of us, but I am going to take advantage of my freezer and get on this now!

Here are the basics for freezing foods:

Timeline for freezing foods:
  • Bacon: 1 to 2 months
  • Breads: 2 to 3 months
  • Casseroles: 2 to 3 months
  • Cooked beef and pork: 2 to 3 months
  • Cooked poultry: 4 months
  • Cookie dough: 3 months
  • Fruit: 8 to 12 months
  • Frozen dinners: 3 to 4 months
  • Hot dogs: 1 to 2 months
  • Lunch meats: 1 to 2 months
  • Sausage: 1 to 2 months
  • Soups and stews: 2 to 3 months
  • Uncooked chicken (parts): 9 months
  • Uncooked chicken (whole): 1 year
  • Uncooked steaks, chops, or roasts: 4 to 12 months
  • Uncooked ground meat: 3 to 4 months
  • Vegetables: 8 to 12 months


Tips for freezing foods:

- Put foods in the freezer as soon as possible after you purchase them or get them from your garden. It preserves the quality and will be better when you defrost.
- Make sure you label the foods you plan to freeze so you know how long they have been in the freezer.
- Don't thaw foods on the kitchen counter. It is a breeding ground for bacteria. Place in the refrigerator, in a cold water bath, or in the microwave.
- If you freeze in glass containers, make sure it is tempered so it doesn't break.
- You can freeze most foods but, should stay away from freezing eggs. The shell can crack and let in bacteria. - You can freeze mayonnaise, cream sauces, and lettuce, but their quality will not be the same after you thaw them.
- Cool cooked foods down before freezing so they freeze faster, which helps preserve quality.
- You can freeze meat in its original packaging, but if you want to store it for long periods of time, add an additional layer of packaging, such as plastic wrap or bags.

Foods that you shouldn't freeze, and do not thaw well:
  • Cabbage, celery, cress, cucumbers, endive, lettuce, parsley, radishes
  • Irish potatoes, baked or boiled
  • Cooked macaroni, spaghetti or rice
  • Egg whites,
  • Meringue
  • Icings made from egg whites
  • Cream or custard fillings
  • Milk sauces
  • Sour cream
  • Mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • Gelatin In
  • Fruit jelly
  • Fried foods
How to freeze fresh produce:
A tip to freezing fresh fruit is to spread out the cleaned, dried, and prepared (cut up) pieces of fruit on cookie sheets and place in freezer. Once the individual pieces of fruit are frozen, you can combine and put in freezer bags. Some people prefer to pack fruits in sugar or sugar syrup to help preserve texture and flavor.

Vegetables usually need to be blanched (boiled or steamed for a short time) before freezing if you want to maintain flavor, color, and texture. Blanching times vary depending on the vegetable. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a chart with blanching times for everything from corn to collard greens and simple instructions for how to freeze a large variety of vegetables.

If you need to find out how to freeze something, check out the list from The National Center for Home Food Preservation. 

Now that you know how to freeze foods, what about storing your fruits and vegetables to they stay fresh and last their longest? How To Store Fruits and Vegetables to Keep them From Rotting

39 comments :

  1. Can you talk about defrosting? I am totally intimidated by it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I host a meal prep @ home where we prepare 15 dinners to freeze & serve later. I havent had any issue with freezing rice or pasta if it is in a meal....I.e Lasagna, sausage rice bake. Why do u recommend not freezing these items? or are you saying don't freeze by themselves?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree, I cook pasta and rice meals and freeze them all of the time. I should have been a little more specific. It is just when it is by itself. It doesn't thaw that well after it has been cooked and it is just the noodles or just the rice. It sticks together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i only use jasmine rice, and after freezing, I take it out and throw on the floor so they separate, and they are perfect ones to make fried rice! This is the secret of making good fried rice, they won't stick together when you fry. Also don't let the rice thaw! (I only use frozen rice for fried rice, I dontknow about others.) :)

      Delete
  4. This is such an amazingly helpful post - great to have the "what to freeze" and "what not to freeze" tips. Thank you!

    ~ Tiffany

    Transfer of Health
    Healthy Recipes and How to Feel Good

    ReplyDelete
  5. Rice by itself freezes really well actually, just wrap in plastic wrap. The only trick is that you can't just let it thaw slowly. You have to reheat it in the microwave right after pulling it out of the freezer. This way the texture stays nice.

    ReplyDelete
  6. i freeze leftover cooked rice all the time in ziplock bags. you're right they don't come out the same, but I nuke each bag for like 4-5 minutes on high in the microwave to defrost it before I use it in fried rice dishes.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a wealth of information, thank you for sharing this with us on Seasonal Celebration! If you want an email reminder each week click here http://eepurl.com/i-8pr
Rebecca x

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have to disagree with a few things on your list of "not to freeze". I freeze celery all the time. I cut it up and freeze in ziploc bags or plastic containers in the amount that I use for my homemade soups. Works wonderfully. I have successfully frozen macaroni, spaghetti, and rice. Also have some wonderful freezer fruit jelly in the freezer right now. Good info though.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You can in fact freeze eggs, crack your eggs into a bowl and whisk, pour eggs into ice cube trays and freeze. After they are frozen solid you can pop them out and put in freezer bags to store. 1 cube is a medium egg I use 2 cubes for a large egg in recipes after thawing in fridge. Perfect for cakes, mixes, and even scrambled eggs.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have had problems freezing celery, unless it is finely chopped,then it does well. How do you thaw bread that is frozen? I have heard you can freeze it, but is there a way to thaw it so it doesn't get mushy?

    ReplyDelete
  11. @tlc............I thaw my bread from being frozen by putting a loaf in the fridge the night before. I used to just put however many slices of bread I wanted in the microwave for about 10 seconds at a time until they felt soft enough. I prefer the first method I listed though. :) I hope this works.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi TLC- you can also leave the bread out on the counter in a sealed plastic bag that is out of the sunlight. Or, If you want a faster method with a crispy crust, then use an oven to thaw the frozen bread. First, wrap the bread with a single piece of tin foil to prevent any exposed areas on the bread. Then, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Finally, place the tin foil-wrapped bread in the oven for 20 minutes. Once you remove the bread from the oven, allow it cool before you remove the tin foil. If done properly, the crust will be crispy, but the insides moist and tasty.

    ReplyDelete
  13. If you wrap rice in individual servings in saran wrap you can freeze them. This is a Japanese Bento trick I use for my children's lunches. After making rice, and while it's still hot, use saran wrap to tightly wrap individual servings of rice, then pop in the freezer while still warm. When ready to use, pop the serving into the microwave directly from the freezer for exactly 2 minutes. The saran wrap, if tightly wrapped, will have the moisture left from when you wrapped it the first time, so basically it's re-steaming the rice.

    I've tried tupperware containers and ziplock bags without the same luck. I think the trick is to ensure that there is some condensation in there from when you packaged it, and that you keep it tight to keep it from drying out.

    Hope this helps! :o)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Does cream of chicken soup freeze well? I have an enchilada sauce recipe that my husband loves but every time I make it, I'm left with a whole lot of left overs (and the recipe cant really be cut down). I could use some advice so that I'm not throwing stuff away as much and I'm saving it for more meals!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I freeze eggs whites and have never had a problem. I also wonder how you set your guidelines for time in the freezer. If vacuum sealed I find I can keep many foods for at least a year, if not longer.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Freezer fruit jelly is great...never had a problem.

    Another suggestion on the bread is to double wrap it (I use leftover bread bags). It keeps any unwanted flavor out and makes it softer in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi

    You can freeze cabbage as long as you blanch it first and it holds reasonably well. I have frozen surplus cabbage for the past two years and it has been ok when cooked from frozen later on.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have to dissagree with fried foods (at least one in particular).

    When I fry up chicken strips/nuggets/breast for sandwiches I do several pounds at a time, then I freeze them in gallon freezer bags with enough for 1 family meal in each bag. Then, when we want chicken nuggets one night, I just pull them out, pop them on a cookie sheet and stick em in the oven. They crisp right up and it's a real time saver!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Egg Whites freeze really well actually. Just store a couple together in a zip lock bag or in ice trays and thaw on a cool bench. I always note on the zip lock bags how many egg whites I have frozen so I can use in recipes calling for a specific number of egg whites. Easy to use and perform well form frozen.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Those are great tips! Thanks so much @Janelle, @MaryKate, @Melissa, and @Anonymous! Thanks for commenting!

    Also, the timeline for food in the freezer is set for foods not in a vacuum sealed bag.

    Lastly, soups and sauces freeze and thaw very well. I freeze all the time and it is still fab!

    Thanks everyone!

    ReplyDelete
  21. the best way to freeze pasta is cook most of the way. Rinse pasta and place in portions in ziploc bags. To defrost simply drop in water. Just as good as freshly made!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Where did you get the round containers on the left side of your picture?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Rice freezes just fine, and it's a great way to make an instant brown rice. To thaw, simply cover with water and microwave. It will fluff right back up.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Potatoe chips also freeze just fine. I found this out by accident when I was "hiding" some ingredients for taco salad and school lunches.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Freezing is one of my fave things to do to save money but I've never tried freezing rice and I need to! I've also experimented a lot with different things and came up with a series of 10 Tips To freezing: http://mummydeals.org/category/tips-and-tricks/how-to-freeze/

    ReplyDelete
  26. You can freeze eggs, I do it all the time. But not in the shell. I rarely eat eggs and mostly use them for making mashed potatoes. As I only eat that once a week (or even every 2 weeks) when I buy a carton of 6 eggs I usually had to throw away half before I froze them.
    I bought these tiny tupperware containers that are just good to freeze one egg at the time. I crack the egg in the container and mix the white with the yellow, put the lid on and in the freezer they go.
    When you take them out to use it doesn't have a liquid texture anymore, more like a pudding texture but when you put it in the hot mash it works.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thanks for the egg tip Lorre. I have also never heard of adding eggs to mashed potatoes. I will have to look into that more.

    Thanks again!

    xoxo,
    Erin

    ReplyDelete
  28. Wow, who knew! Pinning this! Thank you for writing it.

    ReplyDelete
  29. you can definitely freeze cooked rice. When the cooked rice is cooled down just put a serving in individual sandwich bags. Then when you want to eat it, *take it out of the sandwich bags* and put it in a microwave-safe bowl. then take the bowl and put a microwave-safe plate on top of it. Then pop it in the microwave for 2-3min (for one serving). The bowl + plate will allow the rice to steam while not letting the water escape too much so its still moist.

    Then you have rice just about exactly how it would have been if you took it right out of the cooker!

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. A couple of points that I would add:

    If freezing for long term storage (more than a few days) do not use the freezer compartment of your fridge. Frost free units have heaters in the walls to keep frost from building up and these may defrost a thin layer of any food in contact with them on a 24 hr cycle.

    Vacuum sealing bags and containers prior to freezing will extend your (very conservative) estimated times considerably. Air is the enemy of flavor in frozen food. If vacuum sealing isn't practical then filling void space with liquid is better than air pockets. Obviously, this should not be applied to breads or cakes, but the tomatoes in your picture would benefit from it. Just know you have some water to drain upon thawing unless you can use it in your recipe.

    Another method used often is to freeze individual produce before bagging. This can be done on baking sheets or screens on top of other items already in the freezer. Once frozen through, transfer the food to storage bags and remove as much air as possible. Always use the smallest container possible that will hold the items or liquid quantity you are freezing and try to fill them completely. This minimizes air around the foods.

    ReplyDelete
  31. are those roma tomatoes in the bags?

    ReplyDelete
  32. And you definitely can freeze cabbage - it is all in how you do it. Finely slice it, along with some finely sliced chard or silverbeet. Add to a pan that has a small amount of water and a knob of butter. Get it rapidly boiling (much like blanching) and cook it until JUST limp. Drain and drop into an ice bath. Drain again (well) and freeze in ziplock bags, making sure you squeeze as much air out as possible. Freeze flat. This thaws well and is amazing in dishes like Colcannon - Heather from The Garden Pantry.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Something that I just found that freezes really well is green onions. Wash and slice to desired width, then put in an empty (DRY!) water bottle and place in freezer. Just take out the bottle and shake out as much as you need for your recipe, then put the bottle back in the freezer! LOVE this since I never use enough green onion to make it worthwhile to buy at the store. Now I plant a bunch in my garden and freeze right after I pick!

    ReplyDelete
  34. i freeze celery and carrots in a zip top bag with water just covering them. lay flat in the freezer and when you need them for roasts and soups the water is already added...i also mix onions in it too..nothing looses its color, iv done this for a long time :)

    ReplyDelete
  35. I freeze a lot of things in water, like premixed veggies that are going right on the stove for making soups etc, the water protects from freezer burn I find.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Freezing cabbage is actually a great way to prepare it for stuffed cabbage, or another dish where you want the cabbage to be soft. Rather than boiling it, just freeze it overnight. Take it out, let it defrost and peel off the leaves. They're all ready to be stuffed.

    ReplyDelete
  37. The following statement was made in the comments above:
    "Always use the smallest container possible that will hold the items or liquid quantity you are freezing and try to fill them completely. This minimizes air around the foods."
    A word of caution...liquids expand when frozen! Leave enough room for expansion.

    ReplyDelete
  38. When we've grown parsnips in the garden, I peel and chop them, then put them straight in the freezer - no cooking or blanching first. I tend to use them for roasting. When needed, I put them straight in the hot oil, no defrosting or anything. They come out the best ever, every time!

    ReplyDelete