The freezer is a great way to store food for longer, but it is important to know what foods can and cannot be frozen to ensure the quality and safety of food. Today I’m talking about what foods can be frozen.
Freezing food creates healthy meal options for your family. Certain methods need to be followed to produce quality dishes without any loss of flavor or texture.
People do not have time most days to prepare healthy, nutritious foods for their meals and usually settle for less desirable options out of necessity. Personal chefs can be expensive, so why not try making your own meals to freeze? Cooking in bulk can save significant money and time because you buy seasonal ingredients when they are cheapest, buy more at one time for several dishes and freeze the portions required for your family’s needs without too much waste.
There are a few guidelines that should be followed to create the best quality product for your family. Freezing is not suitable for all foods, so you might have to alter favorite recipes to reflect this fact. For example, do not add cream to your soups until the dish is thawed out and reheated. With care and planning, your life can become easier, and your family will eat healthy food every night.
What Foods Can Be Frozen?
Freezing is a great way to store raw and cooked food safely and to preserve foods that otherwise spoil quickly. Many people are often surprised to learn that from a safety point of view, most food can actually be stored in a freezer indefinitely provided the temperature remains at zero degrees.
Freezing slows the movement of microbes and inactivates bacteria and yeasts but does not destroy them, so defrosted foods should be treated as fresh foods are.
Food quality, however, is another matter, and it is this factor alone that often limits what can actually be frozen as well as the length of time food should remain in the freezer.
Foods Which Lose Quality When Frozen
- Foods with high water content, such as lettuce and bell peppers lose their texture significantly when frozen.
- Mayonnaise and other cream-based foods such as sour cream have a tendency to separate and therefore are best not to be frozen.
- Eggs in their shells will explode in the freezer and are best frozen once separated.
- Cooked egg whites have a tendency to become rubbery.
- Potatoes (cooked or raw) tend to lose texture, and the flavor may alter.
Foods Which are not Safe to Freeze
Glass jars or cans of food are not safe to freeze. However, removing the food from the container and packaging it properly is perfectly acceptable.
Freezing can Enhance Flavor
Sauces and stocks often have their flavor intensified after freezing due to the loss of water content. This can often enhance the flavor, but for this same reason, adding seasoning to a dish after it has been frozen is sometimes preferred.
What Is Freezer Burn?
Freezer burn is caused by the food being exposed to air and does not affect the safety of a product.
Freezer burn is the result when food is frozen incorrectly or not packaged correctly. Freezer burn will change the taste, quality, color, and texture of your meals. It is not unsafe to consume food with freezer burn, but you will no longer be enjoying the dish at its best quality.
Food that has not been frozen correctly or has been frozen too long will be dull, have greyish areas, and look dry and unappetizing.
Best Way to Store Food in the Freezer
Ensuring food has been correctly packaged will reduce the likelihood of freezer burn and keep the quality of the food for longer. Food is best frozen when purchased, and it is always better to keep a freezer full.
Using the fast freeze option in a freezer is ideal as food quality and safety is better when it is frozen quickly. Store packaging is fine if an item will be used in the shorter term, but changing the packing or over-wrapping may be required to limit air contact with the food item in the longer term.
The Best Containers for Freezing Food
Pick your freezer containers carefully and consider the product you are freezing. Containers that are airtight, moisture, and vapor-proof are best. Shallower dishes work well because the thinner layer of food will freeze and thaw quicker. There are a great many plastic containers on the market in all sizes and shapes.
These can be stored in neatly organized stacks in the freezer and are great until the seal no longer is effective. Freezer bags may be used for vegetables, fruit, soups, or sauces. Be careful of punctures and never use bags that were previously utilized because the plastic can weaken. When thawing these bags, take care to open the top to avoid an explosion.
Hints When Packing Food into Freezer Container
Remember to always label and date your containers to avoid confusion later on. It is interesting how many foods can look very similar when frozen. Never pack your foods right up to the rim of the containers because any liquid in the dish will expand when freezing push the lid right off.
The closely packed food in thick layers will also take longer to freeze, so always chill in the fridge first before putting it into the freezer. This step prevents deterioration of the food and avoids raising the freezer temperature with warm food. If using plastic bags, make sure you remove as much air as possible from the top of the bag.
Methods to Thaw your Frozen Food
You must be careful when thawing your frozen meals to avoid ruining your dishes and creating an unsafe situation. The best way to thaw food is in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. You can thaw larger frozen items in the microwave on defrost, and smaller single portions can be thawed in the microwave for five or so minutes. Do not refreeze any items after thawing.
Next time you make your favorite spaghetti sauce or casserole, prepare a double batch and freeze half for future consumption on a busy day. Eventually, work your way up to cooking a full week’s worth of food on one day and see how much time and money you save.
In summary, it is mainly the quality of the food that is affected by freezing, and many foods can safely be frozen indefinitely. Freezing can change the flavor or texture of certain foods and can also improve flavor.