How to Freeze Food Properly
How to Freeze Food Properly
Freezing food can be a convenient way to store excess food or meals that you can prepare at a later date; however, it is important to store each food type in a certain manner to guarantee its freshness and quality. There are also steps you can take to prevent your food from experiencing freezer burn and ensuring it retains its texture. Continue reading this article to learn how you can effectively and safely freeze your food.
Freezer Storage Methods
- Seal food destined for the freezer tightly. If the food is exposed to air in its container, plastic bag, or other packaging, it will cause the food to dry out and experience freezer burn.
- Place your food in quality freezer bags or plastic containers; alternatively, wrap your food with freezer wrap or aluminum foil.
- Squeeze any extra air out of the plastic bags and containers before sealing them.
- Leave enough space for your food to expand in the bag or container if you are storing a liquid or a food that contains a lot of juice or gravy.
- Be sure to label and date all frozen food.
- Let warm or hot, freshly cooked foods cool before freezing. This will prevent your food from retaining moisture during the freezing process if you place it into the freezer while it is still warm. Importantly, ensure that this food cools quickly; cool on the kitchen bench until the steam stops escaping. Then, place into the container and freeze.
- Label and date every container and bag of frozen food. This will help you identify the foods after they have become frozen, and will also help you keep track of the dates on which they were originally placed in the freezer.
- Place sticker labels on each container or use a permanent marker to label each plastic bag.
- Store your food so that it freezes at a fast pace. The faster your food becomes frozen, the better it will retain its flavor and freshness upon defrosting it. This means avoiding freezing large amounts of food at a time; rather, split the food up.
- Package your food in small portions so that it freezes faster, especially if you are freezing large dishes such as casseroles. This also means that it defrosts more quickly and it’s easier to add packages together to make enough food than to undo a large package and leave waste.
- Place your food in the freezer with space around each item. This will allow the cold air to circulate around your food efficiently and cause it to freeze at a fast pace.
- Freeze vegetables for between 3 and 6 months. Vegetables will retain their flavor and appearance if frozen and thawed within this time period.
- Blanch certain vegetables before freezing. This method will prevent the enzymes present in vegetables from causing the vegetables to lose their flavor and color.
- Determine the amount of time each vegetable type needs to boil. Asparagus, broccoli, beans, and cabbage will take up to 3 minutes; whereas Brussels sprouts, large carrots, and slices of eggplant will take up to 5 minutes.
- Bring a pan of water to boiling, then place small portions of vegetables into the boiling water.
- Let the vegetables boil for the proper amount of time, then transfer the vegetables immediately to a bowl of cold ice water.
- Dry your vegetables with a paper towel, then store them in bags or containers in the freezer.
- Store most fruits in the freezer for between 8 and 12 months. Citrus fruits will retain their flavor and appearance for between 4 and 6 months.
- Wash and trim your fruit before freezing. This will help retain the freshness of your fruit and prevent it from turning brown after it is placed in the freezer.
- Rinse the fruit under fresh, running water, then slice each fruit into pieces.
- Prepare each fruit type for freezing. Some fruits will require you to add ascorbic acid, fruit juice, or sugar to help retain their color and quality.
- Place sliced apples, bananas, and cherries into a container, then cover them with ascorbic acid.
- Mix together 1 part sugar and 2 parts water to make a syrup, then pour the syrup over fruits such as apricots, peaches, nectarines, berries, and pineapple.
- Trim the fat and bones from all meat. This will release excess fluids and gases that are present in the meat and help retain its freshness and quality during freezing.
- Store meats in the freezer for the appropriate length of time. Each meat type requires different lengths of freezing time depending on the amount of fluids present in the meat.
- Keep sliced and shaved meat and hotdogs in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
- Store cured ham and bacon in the freezer for up to 1 month, cooked meats for up to 2 months, and ground meat in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Store meats from large cuts, such as steaks, in the freezer for up to 12 months.
- When thawing, ensure that stuffed (seasoned), poultry or rolled meat has thawed right to the center before cooking.
- Cut large or whole fish into small portions. This will retain the overall freshness of the fish and give you the ability to clean and gut whole fish before freezing.
- Create a protective icy coating for the fish. An additional coating of ice on your fish will help guarantee its freshness and eliminate odors that the fish may emit during freezing.
- Remove your fish from the freezer after it has frozen completely, then dip it into water before refreezing. This will allow a new layer of ice to form and cover the fish.
- Freeze your fish for up to 3 months. If you are freezing oysters, you can store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- When thawing, ensure that that seafood has thawed right to the center before cooking.
- Wait until after you have frozen and defrosted food before you flavor it with spices. This will prevent your spices from changing in flavor and color during the freezing process.
- For frozen commercial foods, follow the package directions for freezing and thawing.
- Never use glass jars or containers to store your food in the freezer. The freezing temperature may cause glass to break; plus, food expands when it freezes, which can also contribute to the breaking of glass containers.
- Don’t buy frozen food if it has been sitting out of the freezer. Tell the store manager about it so that the food can be disposed of properly. This includes food that thoughtless people remove from the freezer and leave on non-freezer shelves in supermarkets.
Edit Things You’ll Need
- Freezer bags
- Plastic jars or containers
- Freezer wrap
- Aluminum foil
- Sticker labels
Edit Related wikiHows
Edit Sources and Citations