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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Freezing Foods

How To Freeze Food -- Timeline, Tips and Don'ts

I have been trying to freeze more foods lately. It saves money, I am not wasting food because the leftovers are not getting eaten, and it actually will preserve the food's freshness. I realized I had a lot to learn when it came to freezing foods. There are so many things that can be frozen that I never knew, shredded cheese, soups, certain fruits. I think I am going to start doing this a lot more often. Especially now that I am finding some good deals at the grocery store. Usually you have to buy in bulk to get the savings, so I never took the deal because it is just the two of us, but I am going to take advantage of my freezer and get on this now!

Here are the basics for freezing foods:

Timeline for freezing foods:
  • Bacon: 1 to 2 months
  • Breads: 2 to 3 months
  • Casseroles: 2 to 3 months
  • Cooked beef and pork: 2 to 3 months
  • Cooked poultry: 4 months
  • Cookie dough: 3 months
  • Fruit: 8 to 12 months
  • Frozen dinners: 3 to 4 months
  • Hot dogs: 1 to 2 months
  • Lunch meats: 1 to 2 months
  • Sausage: 1 to 2 months
  • Soups and stews: 2 to 3 months
  • Uncooked chicken (parts): 9 months
  • Uncooked chicken (whole): 1 year
  • Uncooked steaks, chops, or roasts: 4 to 12 months
  • Uncooked ground meat: 3 to 4 months
  • Vegetables: 8 to 12 months

Tips for freezing foods:

- Put foods in the freezer as soon as possible after you purchase them or get them from your garden. It preserves the quality and will be better when you defrost.
- Make sure you label the foods you plan to freeze so you know how long they have been in the freezer.
- Don't thaw foods on the kitchen counter. It is a breeding ground for bacteria. Place in the refrigerator, in a cold water bath, or in the microwave.
- If you freeze in glass containers, make sure it is tempered so it doesn't break.
- You can freeze most foods but, should stay away from freezing eggs. The shell can crack and let in bacteria. - You can freeze mayonnaise, cream sauces, and lettuce, but their quality will not be the same after you thaw them.
- Cool cooked foods down before freezing so they freeze faster, which helps preserve quality.
- You can freeze meat in its original packaging, but if you want to store it for long periods of time, add an additional layer of packaging, such as plastic wrap or bags.

Foods that you shouldn't freeze, and do not thaw well:
  • Cabbage, celery, cress, cucumbers, endive, lettuce, parsley, radishes
  • Irish potatoes, baked or boiled
  • Cooked macaroni, spaghetti or rice
  • Egg whites,
  • Meringue
  • Icings made from egg whites
  • Cream or custard fillings
  • Milk sauces
  • Sour cream
  • Mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • Gelatin In
  • Fruit jelly
  • Fried foods
How to freeze fresh produce:
A tip to freezing fresh fruit is to spread out the cleaned, dried, and prepared (cut up) pieces of fruit on cookie sheets and place in freezer. Once the individual pieces of fruit are frozen, you can combine and put in freezer bags. Some people prefer to pack fruits in sugar or sugar syrup to help preserve texture and flavor.

Vegetables usually need to be blanched (boiled or steamed for a short time) before freezing if you want to maintain flavor, color, and texture. Blanching times vary depending on the vegetable. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a chart with blanching times for everything from corn to collard greens and simple instructions for how to freeze a large variety of vegetables.

If you need to find out how to freeze something, check out the list from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

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