Freezing is one of the best ways of storing foods and when done correctly, locks in nutrients and freshness, so that your foods are just as good as they were, the day they were frozen. Freezing saves money as you can store foods in bulk and saves time as well, as you can store pre-cooked meals that only need heating, before they are served. Freezing leftovers also help to minimize food wastage in the home. Use these tips to store your frozen foods correctly.
Store foods in freezer bags or plastic containers –
Wrap raw foods tightly in parchment/baking paper or aluminum foil and then put them in freezer or zip-lock bags as these can be made relatively air-tight by squeezing as much air out of them as possible, so that foods retain their freshness and do not dry out. You can also use plastic food storage containers especially made for freezing, to store soups and sauces.
However, you must leave some head space for liquids to expand as they freeze, to prevent the containers from cracking.
Label everything you freeze –
Label the freezer bags or containers of foods you freeze, indicating what the food items are, whether they are raw or cooked, the date on which they were frozen and their use-by date.
This will help you identify foods easily and use them before their quality deteriorates.
Don’t freeze hot foods –
Let cooked foods cool down completely before freezing them, as freezing hot foods raises the temperature of the freezer, causing other foods to start defrosting and will reduce the efficiency of your freezer over time.
Foods unsuitable for freezing –
Not all foods are suitable for freezing as the quality of some foods deteriorate at very low temperatures. Foods unsuitable for freezing include fresh foods with a high water content such as, lettuce, cucumbers and watermelon.
Other foods unsuitable for freezing include deep-fried foods, cooked pasta and rice and egg-based condiments such as mayonnaise and salad cream, which may separate or curdle.
It is also unwise to freeze canned and bottled foods and beverages, as these explode when they get very cold.
Storage times –
These storage times are recommended for various foodstuffs in order to maintain their quality, at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 17.7 degrees Celsius) – uncooked meat is best frozen for four to 12 months, uncooked minced meat for three to four months, bacon, sausages and ham for one to two months and cooked meat for two to three months; while whole uncooked poultry can be frozen for 12 months, poultry parts for nine months and cooked poultry for four months. Soups, stews and casseroles are best frozen for two to three months.