Freezing food to preserve it has been popular for years. With the busy and hectic lifestyle that most of us lead, having a meal prepped and ready in the freezer is a blessing most days. Given how simple it is and how easily you can freeze entire meals or just ingredients without investing in any specialized equipment, it isn’t surprising how much popularity freezing food has gained.
From morning breakfasts to midnight snacks, you will always find something ready in your freezer that you can gobble up. So, the question that comes to mind is, are you utilizing this simple technique to make your life easier or not?
If you are looking for guidance on this, don’t worry. You are at precisely the right place. This blog post is the ultimate guide to getting started on your food freezing journey. Everything from how safe it is to freeze your food, some commonly used terminologies to help you understand freezing guides, how to freeze different foods, and a handful of tips to make this process even easier, you will find it all here.
So let’s get started!
Freezing food is one of the most straightforward ways to preserve it. Properly frozen and stored food helps preserve their nutrients, freshness, and flavor for a long time!
When we talk about preserving food, the main concern is whether it will be safe for consumption. In the case of freezing food, the ideal temperature that you are looking for freezing for most foodstuff is 0 degrees.
When most produce is frozen at this temperature or lower, it inactivates the microbes present in the food. This means that when your food is frozen, it merely pauses the presence of bacteria, mold, and yeast. And once you begin to thaw your food, the microbes will start to activate as well and in the right conditions, even multiple to a degree where they cause food-borne illnesses. That is why it becomes vital that the frozen food is stored and thawed in proper conditions.
Flash freezing is a term that you will find in most freezing guides. All flash-freezing really means is that you are freezing your food in just a few hours by subjecting them to cryogenic temperatures. As the food is frozen in such a short period, the ice crystals formed within the cell membranes are tiny and don’t cause damage to the food when thawed.
A common way to flash freeze when freezing food at home is by using a baking tray. Line a baking tray with some parchment paper and spread the food you want to freeze in a single layer. Load your tray into the freezer and freeze for a few hours until frozen solid.
Because the food is spread into a single layer and on a baking tray, each piece of fruit, vegetable, or meat is well exposed to cold air, causing them to freeze super fast.
Freezer bags are special ziplock bags designed for long-term freezer bags. You must use these freezer-safe bags to store your frozen foods. The number one reason frozen food goes bad is its exposure to air. Regular ziplock bags are different from freezer bags are they are still permeable to air. For freezing your food in top quality for longer periods, it’s vital that you use the bags designed for freezer storage.
Freezer burn is a common complaint when dealing with frozen food. Freeze burn is caused when the frozen food comes in contact with the air, causing the food to go dry in certain spots. While freezer burn does not necessarily mean the food has gone bad, the quality certainly won’t be up to par.
Properly frozen and stored produce should not be freezer burned. However, if you end up with some freezer-burned food, cut away the affected portions before or after the cooking process. If the food is heavily freezer-burned, you may want to discard it entirely for quality reasons.
There are several freezing foods at home. Here are some:
Nutrients: Freezing produce when it is at its best quality helps in preserving its nutrients even in the frozen state.
Flavor: Fresh produce preserves its flavor well when frozen at its prime ripeness, allowing you to enjoy their taste even when not in season.
Easy to Preserve: Freezing is one of the easiest ways to preserve your food to last it for months.
Convenient: Frozen food is an excellent way to meal prep, allowing you to prepare everything from breakfasts to dinners in a handful of minutes.
Reduce Wastage: Food wastage is one of the topmost waste sources worldwide. By freezing your excess haul, you can enjoy the fresh taste of your fruits and vegetables throughout the year with minimum to no wastage.
Freeze fresh vegetables when they are in season; this way, you have access to veggies all year long without paying the high price of food shipped from across the country. Freeze vegetables by washing them thoroughly, removing any extra leaves or dirt, then cutting them into the desired size or leaving them whole.
Blanching is a must step when you are freezing vegetables. It slows down the enzyme reaction that causes the frozen food’s loss of flavor and stops the veggies from drying out in the freezer. Blanching is a very popular kitchen hack where you boil the produce (veggies in our case) for a few minutes just until the veggies start to soften but are not cooked through. Another benefit of blanching your vegetables before you freeze them is that it gives them a vibrant color and locks in the moisture, minimizing freezer burn chances.
Blanch your veggies in a pot of water for roughly 3 minutes or until they are just soft enough that you can easily poke them with a knife or fork. Once blanched, scoop out the veggies into a colander and run them through some cold water to stop their cooking process. Although not necessary, you can add some salt to your blanching water to flavor the vegetables.
Tip: When blanching your veggies, take some time and cut your veggies into roughly the same size so that the cooking time for all of them is the same.
Your blanched veggies are now ready to be frozen. To freeze the vegetables, you have two options – transfer them to freezer bags directly, or flash-freeze them before freezing them for the long term. Personally, flash freezing is the way to go. It gives you a better end product that retains its texture better.
Flash freeze the vegetables using a nonstick baking tray or a parchment paper-lined baking tray. When the veggies have frozen solid in a few hours, transfer them to freezer-safe bags that you can label and date before moving to the freezer for long-term storage.
These veggies can be thawed and used in many ways: boil them, add them to soups and casseroles, make vegetable medleys like cauliflower rice or ratatouille. Properly frozen and stored vegetables should easily last you in the freezer for up to a year.
Freeze fruits to preserve them for the off-season when they are too expensive to buy. There are a few different ways to try freezing fruits, depending on how you plan to use them. There are also a few things you need to look out for when freezing fruits, like whether to wash them before freezing. Certain fruits like blueberries turn rubbery and tough when washed before freezing, while on the other hand, the regular toppers of the dirty dozen food list strawberries must be rinsed thoroughly before freezing.
When the fruits have been prepared for freezing, the next thing to decide on is how to freeze them:
Flash Freezing Plain Fruit
To freeze your fruit in this way, layer the cut fruit on a parchment paper-lined baking tray and flash freeze for a few hours until they have frozen solid. You can then transfer these frozen fruits to freezer-safe bags for long-term storage. Remember to minimize their contact with air to allow the fruits to last to their full potential. And one way to achieve this is by squeezing out as much air as possible from the freezer bags before you seal them.
Freezing Sugar Sprinkled Fruit
Fruits like sliced strawberries, peaches, figs, grapes, etc., when sprinkled with sugar and allowed to sit, produce their syrup, which you can use to freeze them for some additional sweetness.
Cut your fruit into small pieces into sizes of your preference and sprinkle them with a 3:1 proportion of sugar. This means, for every 3 cups of fruit, add 1 cup of sugar. Toss the fruits in the sugar lightly, taking care not to bruise them. Once all the fruits are well coated, let the fruits sit for 15 – 20 minutes, giving them enough time to release their juices and form a syrup once the sugar in it has dissolved. Transfer these fruits to a freezer-safe container and load them into your freezer for long-term storage after sealing them.
Freezing Fruit in Syrup
You can also freeze your fruit in syrup, adjusting the sweetness of your syrup according to your preference. Add your cut fruit to freezer-safe jars before pouring in enough syrup so that all the fruits are covered with the syrup. Depending on the sweetness of the fruit and your taste buds, you can use a light or medium syrup to freeze the fruit. When the jars are filled with the cut fruit and syrup, seal the containers and label and date them before moving them to the freezer for the long term.
You can use these frozen fruits in desserts, fruit salads, breakfast smoothies, and all sorts of recipes! The frozen fruit should easily last you for up to a year!
It is best to freeze fish and seafood as fresh as possible. Freeze fish or seafood no more than two days after buying them from the market. Freeze only the quantity that you will not use within those two days.
To maintain the freshness of the seafood, start by laying out a sheet of cling wrap on your worktop. Place your seafood at one end of the cling wrap and start wrapping the plastic wrap around the piece of fish. The cling wrap will limit the contact of the seafood with the air around and help preserve its quality. Next, wrap the cling-wrapped piece of seafood in aluminum foil before you place it in a freezer-safe bag. Remember to label and date the freezer bag before loading it into the freezer. Freeze shrimp, scallops, and other shellfish immediately after purchase.
Do not freeze fish or seafood that have been previously frozen if they were thawed in the refrigerator before cooking. Pre-frozen seafood is generally of lesser quality than fresh, and freezing it again may result in a mushy mess.
Freeze the packaged fish at 0 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 6 months. To maintain the quality, you may want to use it within a couple of months.
Freezing meat is a great way to preserve it. Make sure to wrap your meat in something that won’t let the air get in. You can use the same technique that we used for seafood here. Start by wrapping your meat in cling wrap and then wrap it in aluminum foil for extra protection. You can then place the double-wrapped meat in freezer-safe bags for freezing.
To freeze ground meat, you can even place it directly in the freezer bag and pat it down so that it forms a uniform layer before you seal the freezer bag and load it into your freezer. In this case, make sure you are removing as much air as possible from the freezer bags before you seal them completely.
Freeze pork for no more than six months and beef steaks for no more than 12 months. Freeze ground meat products such as burger patties or sausages for no more than four months. Freeze venison or game meats immediately after purchase and use within 3 – 6 months. Freeze ground poultry products for no more than three months. Freeze whole poultry, including turkey, chicken, and geese, for no more than 12 months. Do not freeze meat that has already been frozen once.
Remember to label and date all your frozen meats with the content and the freezing date.
It is extremely common for people, especially during the pandemic, to buy groceries like eggs and milk in bulk and have quite a few of them leftover. So if you are planning to store these unused and leftover eggs, freezing them is an excellent option.
The best way to freeze eggs is by breaking open the eggs in a bowl and whisking them together until the egg white and yolk have just combined. Do not whisk the eggs too much as that will unnecessarily introduce excess air into the eggs that can cause freezer burn. Once the eggs are whisked together, transfer them to freezer bags and squeeze out as much air as possible from them before you seal them.
You can also break the eggs directly into the freezer bag to keep the egg white and yolk separate. However, the time it takes to thaw them varies, and the egg yolk texture isn’t that appealing when cooked. So the best way to freeze eggs is by whisking them together and then freezing them. To thaw these eggs, leave them on your counter for a few minutes, and they will have melted perfectly and will be ready to be used in your recipes. You can also run your freezer bag under room-temperature water to thaw them faster.
Tip: You can also freeze the eggs in ice cube trays for more convenience!
Remember to freeze the eggs in batches according to your portion sizes for convenience. These frozen eggs are perfect for your breakfast recipes and even for desserts. These eggs can last you up to a year when properly frozen.
Tip: Never freeze whole raw eggs in their shell. Like most liquids, the eggs will expand when frozen and burst in your freezer!
If you have a surplus of dairy products like milk, cheese, and butter, you can freeze those as well! For freezing milk, empty the carton a little as the milk will expand as it freezes. The extra space made by pouring the milk will give it the room required for expanding. Place the carton in the freezer, and it will last you for 2 – 3 months. However, you may want to use the milk for premium quality in a month or so.
To freeze cheese, you can freeze it directly in the packaging itself, or for more convenience, you may want to shred the cheese using a coarse grater. Transfer the shredded cheese to freezer-safe bags and load them into the freezer for storage. You can use the frozen cheese in all of your recipes where you otherwise would use fresh cheese.
You can also freeze butter for long-term storage. Unsalted butter tends to lose its flavor the longer it is frozen, so try to use it in a month. Salted frozen butter will easily last you for up to 6 months.
Tip: Other dairy products like sour cream, yogurt, etc., don’t freeze well. It is best to eat them fresh!
How many times have your herbs gone bad in the fridge? Here is a quick and straightforward way to preserve your herbs to make them last longer. This trick works with all sorts of leafy herbs such as basil, parsley, and coriander.
Start by going through your herbs and weeding out any leaves starting to go bad. These would be the blackened leaves, slimy leaves, or leaves with holes in them. Wash your leaves in plenty of water and let them air dry for a few minutes. Next, chop the leaves finely and then pack them into icecube trays. Make sure that the leaves are packed in with minimum air pockets. Next, add cold water to the ice cube trays so that the leaves are majorly submerged.
You are now ready to freeze the herbs in the freezer. Once the herbs are frozen, transfer them to freezer-safe bags and label and date them for easy storage and easy usage. When you are ready to use the frozen herbs, add one or two ice cubes to your pot!
Freezing your food is a great way to meal prep for those busy weeknights where all you have are a few minutes to throw a dinner together. Preparing and freezing meals beforehand also comes in handy during the holiday season, where you seem to be running against the clock to get everything perfect and ready.
When it comes to freezing food for meal prep, your imagination is the limit. Everything from simple sides like mashed potatoes to soups, stews, and casseroles can be frozen beforehand for meal prep.
When you are freezing stuff like soups and casseroles, make sure you cool them completely before freezing. Once it is at room temperature, let them chill in the refrigerator for some time as well so that any fat that is present will rise to the top and solidify. Discard this fat before you transfer them to freezer-safe containers for storage. Remember to label and date your containers before loading them into the freezer.
Tip: When you freeze food like soup, it is best to freeze it in portion sizes. Freezing in portion sizes makes it convenient to thaw, and you don’t have to worry about refreezing the leftovers.
When it comes to freezing casseroles, you can freeze most unbaked casseroles by wrapping them tightly in foil before freezing them. When you are ready to use them, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight. You can even move them straight to the oven as well for baking. However, in this case, do not preheat the oven before loading the casserole dish.
You can even freeze your desserts such as cakes, bread, and even cookie dough in the freezer. Just double wrap the food before you place it in a freezer bag. Label and date the bag and move it to the freezer for long-term storage.
The best way to thaw frozen food is in the refrigerator. The bigger the portion size, the longer it will take for the food to thaw. When thawing meat, it is a safe bet to move it in the refrigerator overnight to let it defrost.
Thawing food on the counter is dangerous. The risk of bacterial growth increases rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so don’t thaw meat on the counter or in hot water.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, in most cases, you can use them directly in their frozen state. However, if you need to thaw them, move them to the refrigerator for a couple of hours. If you are in a hurry and need to speed up this process, you can soak the freezer bag in some cold or room temperature water to thaw them faster.
Tip: If you have an aluminum or stainless steel tray, you can place your frozen freezer bag on that for faster thawing. These metals absorb the surrounding heat and transfer it to the food, allowing it to defrost faster.
Properly frozen and stored food will last you for a long time. However, there are still chances of spoilage. For this, you must be vigilant of the products that you have stored in your freezer. Keep an eye on the freezing date of products and rotate them as needed. If you are not sure how long something has been in the freezer, discard it immediately.
For freezer burn, take stock of how badly the food has been affected. While freezer burn does not mean the food has gone bad, it still has affected the quality of the product. Remove affected sections of the food and if a majority of the food product is freezer burned, toss it entirely.
If you notice that the frozen food seems slimy, mold growth or an off smell is emanating; it is a clear indicator that the food has gone bad and needs to be discarded.
In the end, all that matters is the safety of your friends and family. And when you are cooking, it is your responsibility to follow all the food safety standards to create a safe and enjoyable meal.
You can use mason jars for freezing. However, make sure the mason jars you use are suitable for use in the freezer as the cold temperature may cause them to burst. One main difference between using freezer bags and mason jars is that food freezes much faster in freezer bags, which means smaller ice crystals and a better product when thawed. Another significant difference for most of us is the storage space. Freezer bags are much less space-consuming than mason jars and are easily stacked. For many of us, this last point tips the scale in favor of using freezer-safe bags for freezing.
You can use dry ice to freeze your food. The dry ice comes in handy for freezing when you want to freeze food in a cooler for a camping trip. Because the temperature is so low, dry ice freezes the food very fast, with minimum ice crystals forming. Place the food at the bottom of your cooler, and then add the dry ice on top. It would be good to separate the food and dry ice with cardboard or something similar to prevent freezer burn. Please note that there are risks associated with dry ice, especially if you don’t know how to handle it. For these reasons, it is best to do this process under someone with experience.
While you can refreeze your food once it has been thawed, bear in mind that the texture of food changes even if it is slight compared to its fresh counterpart. And when you refreeze again, their texture will degrade some more. So unless it is necessary, don’t refreeze your food multiple times.
One of the best things you can do if you want to embrace a more economical lifestyle is to learn how to freeze food. Freeze food and save money with these simple tips! When you know how to freeze food, you will be able to buy in bulk, shop the sales, and save money at the grocery store. Freeze food at its peak of flavor for later use in recipes. Freeze ingredients on their own or freeze complete meals for your family. You can even pre-prepare many of your favorite recipes. Freeze them properly, and have several days’ worth of healthy dinners ready to go at a moment’s notice.
This guide aims to introduce you to the possibilities of freezing your own food. There are multiple benefits and few if any drawbacks to having your own reserve of frozen meals ready to go. While this guide will serve as a great starting point in your freezing journey, check out some of our freezing guides for specifics on how to freeze different food.
We are sure all of our tips and instructions will help you achieve the best results! Happy Freezing!
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