Freezing food can be a real time saver in the kitchen and helps you to provide healthy meals for your family at a lower cost. There are some important things to know to keep your foods healthy and tasty. One of the most important factors about freezing foods is that the more care you take when you freeze them, the better the foods will be when you want to use them. Here are some brief guidelines…
How to Freeze Foods Properly
Properly freezing your food is essential to ensuring good product when you need it. Before you freeze cooked foods, it is important that you let them cool fully first. Placing hot foods into your freezer will bring down the overall temperature in the freezer, and can jeopardize the quality and safety of the foods inside, as well as costing you more money to re-chill the freezer.
Properly wrapping foods before placing them into the freezer will greatly help increase their freezer life and keep them from getting freezer burn. Freezer burn, typically noted by frozen water crystals or ice in the package, degrades not only the look of the foods, but also spoils the taste. Use special freezer paper or pick up some airtight freezer bags from the dollar store. Wrap cooked meats, such as roasts, in foil first before placing them into plastic storage to further protect them.
Beware of Water Vapor
The main things to consider when freezing food are to keep water vapor in the form of steam and air out of the storage container as much as possible. If you want to ensure freshness, use a vacuum seal container. Remove as much air as possible, but leave a small amount of room for expansion.
Freeze items in small packages. This ensures that the foods freeze properly, and it also makes it easy to determine portion sizes later on. Mark the packages with the type of foods inside and the date using a permanent marker.
The Best Way to Thaw Foods
Properly thawing food from the freezer is important in food safety. The best way to thaw foods is by putting the products into the refrigerator for a day or two. If you don’t have that kind of time, place the foods into an airtight freezer bag and place into a sink of cold water. Change the water occasionally to make sure that it remains very cold.
Although it seems logical, never ever place food to be thawed into hot water, as this will cause bacteria to multiply on the surface like crazy, and you may wind up with food poisoning when you eat the thawed meat.
You may also use the microwave to thaw foods, if you do it carefully. Use the defrost setting, turning it over when instructed. The foods should not be cooked at all during this process, but instead should only thaw. Immediately remove the foods from the microwave after the defrost cycle and cook them right away. Do not let them stand unattended on the counter top for more than a few minutes.
Hygienic Storage Guidelines
Food only keeps for a certain length of time in the freezer, and some keep longer than others. Sauces and gravies are OK for up to six months. All types of meat, soups, stews and casseroles should be used within six months. Foods that have been cooked last only up to three months in the freezer. Breads should be used within three months.
It is important that foods stay totally frozen inside the freezer. Make certain that the freezer isn’t crowded to allow for proper air circulation. Sort and organize your freezer every few months to get rid of old foods and make room for new ones. if your fridge has started to seem less cold, cause food to become defrosted or if it has any strange chemical smells or leaks, it might be time to call in the repairman.