Although freezing is one of the best ways to prevent spoilage, I’ve learned from trial (and lots of errors) that this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. If done properly, stockpile perishables will be flavorful and on hand for many months to come.
1. Prepare The Food. Remove all packaging, cans or shells from the food you’re about to freeze. I discovered this step the hard way when a canned ham blew up in my freezer in the middle of the night. I like to blanch my vegetables by scalding or steaming them in boiling water for 2 to 7 minutes. The blanching kills germs and helps the veggies retain vitamins and color when they freeze. Just cool completely before freezing.
2. Wrap it Up. Hard plastic or glass containers work best for freezing food filled with liquid or that is mushy. Use a glass jar that is tempered to withstand freezing temperatures (yes, I also learned this the hard way. Don’t judge me). I also like to seal perishables in plastic storage bags, heavy-duty aluminum foil or special plastic freezer bags. Remember to get all of the air out of the bag by squeezing, using a vacuum sealer or sucking the air out with a straw.
3. Flash Freeze. I always freeze my stockpile perishables as quickly as possible. Ice crystals can develop on foods that freeze too slowly. My freezer has a “quick-freeze” shelf, but don’t worry if yours doesn’t. You can just spread out the food in a single layer while it freezes. I always try to freeze my perishables within 2 hours to seal in quality.
4. Watch the Temperature and the Calendar. Keep the freezer temperature at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. This task can be difficult with a child who constantly opens the freezer door in search of popsicles. If you need longer-term storage, consider getting a free-standing freezer and check the temperature regularly with an appliance thermometer. Store foods in the freezer practically indefinitely, however, that doesn’t mean the quality and taste will also last. Dairy lasts about a month in the freezer. Fruit, about a year, and meat will last up to nine months. I throw away food that smells like my husband’s gym shoes after thawed.
5. Thaw Smart. For best results, I always thaw my frozen stockpile perishables in the refrigerator. I try to take them out a full 24 hours. However, there are instances when that time frame completely slips my mind–like when I’m too busy plunging a My Little Pony out of the toilet. In those cases, I thaw food in cold water, which takes about 2 hours. But I always make sure the storage container is completely sealed and change the water every 30 minutes
6. Know When to Ice the Freezer: Some perishables like onions, peppers, salad greens and celery turn limp and lose crispness after freezing. In addition, creamed cottage cheese becomes grainy when frozen–so be sure to only freeze dry-curd or uncreamed cottage cheese. Potatoes are also poor sports in the freezer. They tend to become tough and watery even if boiled first.
This is a guest post by Rose from Washington
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