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SUMMER FUN: Chill Out with Frozen Foods

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Top Freezing Tips

Whether you have a chest or upright freezer, the principles of successful freezing are the same.

  • Cool foods before you freeze them. Freezing food when hot will only increase the temperature of the freezer and could cause other foods to start defrosting.
  • Thaw foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter. The microwave can speed the process up, but ALWAYS use the defrost feature or cut the power output to 30% and flip food often.
  • Never re-freeze anything that’s been frozen. Even if the food was frozen raw and then cooked, to be extra safe it still shouldn’t be re-frozen.
  • A full freezer is more economical to run as the cold air doesn’t need to circulate so much, so less power is needed. And defrost a frosty freezer as ice buildup decreases efficiency.
  • It’s a wrap. Make sure you wrap foods properly or put them in sealed containers, otherwise your food can get freezer-burn. When using zip-top bags, squeeze (or suck out with a straw) as much air as possible from the bag. For long term storage, double wrap in heavy aluminum foil and plastic wrap.
  • Portion control. Freeze food in realistically sized portions. You don’t want to have to defrost a stew big enough to feed eight when you’re only feeding a family of three.
  • If in doubt, throw it out. Contrary to what many people think, freezing doesn’t kill bacteria. If you are unsure of how long something has been frozen or are a bit wary of something once defrosted, don’t take any chances.
  • Stay fresh. You get out what you put in as freezing certainly won’t improve the quality of your food. Don’t freeze old food because you don’t want to waste it; the point of freezing is to keep food as its prime.
  • Friendly labels. It may seem a bother at the time, but unless you label you might not remember what it is, let alone when it was frozen.
  • Foods will become more flavorful and thicken during the freezing process. Keep that in mind and add extra liquid when preparing and don’t add that extra dash of red pepper.
  • In an emergency if there has been a power cut or you think the freezer has been turned off at some point, don’t open the door. Foods should remain frozen in the freezer for about 24 hours, leaving you time to get to the bottom of the problem.

What not to freeze…

Most individual ingredients can be frozen, however, some foods simply aren’t freezer friendly:

  • Raw eggs in the shells will expand and crack.
  • Hard-boiled eggs go rubbery.
  • Vegetables with high water content, such as lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts and radishes, go limp and mushy.
  • Soft herbs, like parsley, basil and chives, go brown but do maintain their flavor. Use only in dark colored dishes.
  • Egg-based sauces, such as mayonnaise, will separate and curdle.
  • Plain yogurt, low-fat cream cheese, single cream and cottage cheese go watery.
  • Soft cheeses, cream and whipped cream.
  • Nearly all fruits will go mushy after being frozen but they will make excellent smoothies and work very well in cooked dishes.

 

 

Great to Freeze

All these everyday ingredients will freeze well.

  • Butter and margarine can be frozen for 3 months.
  • Grated cheese can be frozen for up to 4 months and can be used straight from the freezer. Frozen blocks of cheese will be crumbly.
  • Eggs will freeze! Freeze the yolk and white separately or beat them together before freezing. You will not want to use these eggs to make anything other than baked goods, however, as the texture will be unpalatable.
  • Most bread, except crusty varieties such as French bread, will freeze well for up to 3 months. Sliced bread can be toasted from frozen. Frozen homemade muffins are a breakfast staple in our house. Ten seconds in the microwave and you are ready to eat. Wrap all of these to prevent moisture entering or leaving thebread.
  • Milk will freeze for 1 month. Defrost in the fridge and shake well before using.
  • Frozen bananas are an exception to the frozen fruit goes mushy rule as they get creamy and sweeter and can be eaten frozen. Freeze these with peels removed and dipped in chocolate….nom nom.
  • Raw pastry will freeze for for 6 months and takes just 1 hour to thaw. Baked or unbaked pies (except custard pies) freeze well aslo.
  • Fresh meat wrapped well. You can also buy in bulk, brown your meats then portion out 2-3 cups into a baggie and freeze for quick weeknight meals. Just defrost and go!
  • Chopped raw onions, peppers, celery and similar veggies can be frozen in thin, flat bags. When you need some for a recipe, just break off a bit and sauté away! These will lose texture but they go great in soups and stews.
  • Sauces (especially tomato), stews and soups freeze very well. Thicken them with arrowroot powder instead of flour or cornstarch to prevent them from separating after thawing. Sauces made with cream above 40% fat will freeze well without separating.
  • Pasta and rice freeze fine, but they are quick to cook anyway and can take up valuable freezer space. Freeze them in casseroles after baking (to preserve texture) but leftovers (especially in lunch sized portions) are just as tasty.
  • Freezing Fresh Veggies

Freezing is the best way of preserving a season’s bounty to enjoy later. When properly frozen, vegetables retain all their flavor and nutrients. The best method of freezing is the same for peas, beans, asparagus, broccoli and almost all other veggies.

  • In a large pan of water, boil a handful of vegetables at a time for 30 secs. This will stop them going brown when frozen. Using a slotted spoon, scoop them out into a bowl of heavily iced water. Once chilled, drain the veg and scatter onto a tray lined with kitchen paper. Freeze on the tray then transfer to a freezer bag. Cook the vegetables from frozen in a large pan of boiling water. Do not steam, as they tend to go soggy.

·         And finally…If you’re unfortunate enough to get chewing gum on an item of clothing, don’t fret! Pop the clothing in the freezer until the gum is frozen solid, then simply pick it off.

How Long to Keep Frozen Food

There is way more information out there than can be put into this guide so check out these two websites for tips on how long to keep your foods.

http://www.allfoodbusiness.com/freezer_storage.php

http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html

 

Great Freezer Foods Recipes

Google is your friend when it comes to finding recipes. Simply type in “Freezer meals” into your search engine and you’ll have more recipes than you can ever make. But to get you started, here are a few:

http://joelens.blogspot.com/2007/01/freezer-friendlymake-ahead.html

Author: elizabeth

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