Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Freezing Food: A Few Tips

Pin It Every time I post a picture of my freezer contents, I get a flood of emails and comments asking about certain foods that can or cannot be frozen. So I thought I'd give a list of items that freeze well, as well as some tips on freezing food.

As a disclaimer, most anything can be frozen. However, the texture and consistency often change, so I've tried to be specific and list foods that I choose to freeze, or not to freeze.

Items I Freeze:
  • Milk: No need to open or empty out any, when frozen, the circles on the side pop out to allow for expansion! I normally allow for a full day in an empty sink for a gallon to defrost. We are avid milk drinkers and can't even taste a difference in the milk that has been frozen! I'll often buy 3-4 gallons and freeze two. We still use them all before the "Best Buy" date, but the frozen milk taste fresher than if we had just kept it in the fridge for 10 days.
  • Butter
  • Bread & rolls {I don't freeze homemade items often as they dry out too much. Sweet breads are the exception, as they freeze beautifully for a few months.}
  • Bread or pizza dough
  • Just about any meat, except meat in a can {once it's out of the can, it can be frozen though, if you want to!}
  • Grilled chicken: cook it just under done, then steam to reheat! We love being able to enjoy grilled chicken when it's snowing outside!
  • Most vegetables: Broccoli, green beans, peas, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, corn, whole tomatoes {Most vegetables must be blanched first.}
  • Most fruits: berries, apples, bananas, grapes {fruits will soften after defrosting, so I use them for baked goods or smoothies afterwards.}
  • Shredded cheese
  • Cottage cheese {to be used in cooking afterwards}
  • Celery & onions- cut up and used later on for soups
  • Grains: everything from flour to rice can be preserved longer by freezing
  • Sauces, including cream sauces, like homemade Alfredo. You'll just need to whisk them a bit when heating up and they're fantastic!
  • Cooked rice or pasta: Both defrost better if only cooked al dente.
  • Cookie dough, rolled into a ball
  • Baked cookies, cakes, pies
  • Nuts: I freeze or refrigerate all of my packaged nuts!
Items that I Do Not Freeze:
  • Block or sliced cheese {Cheese gets soft after freezing. Block cheese gets too hard to work with and sliced just crumbles.}
  • Yogurt {unless you just plan on adding it to recipes or smoothies}
  • Fruit or vegetables with a high water content, such as lettuce, melons, zucchini, cucumber,
  • Tub margarine: there's really no need to as it will be just fine in the fridge for months.
  • Eggs: you actually can't freeze eggs, but once again, they last several weeks in the fridge. Sometimes I age eggs on purpose for a couple weeks, then hard boil them, as they peel easier!
  • Cooked potatoes. I've tried several different varieties. They just change in texture too much for them to be palatable afterwards!
  • Homemade pancakes & waffles: They dry out so much I found we were drowning them in syrup & butter afterwards, so I stopped freezing them.

A few tips on freezing:

  • Analyze how quickly your family will use frozen items, then package accordingly. I own a food saver, but don't use it very often as the bags are expensive and we eat the food within such a short time that it's not worth it! For most meats, I first wrap them in the freezer Press 'N Seal wrap, then foil. Freezer paper also works well. For items we plan on using quickly, I just put them in a ziplock bag.
  • Freeze diced fruits and vegetables flat on a tray first, like this. Once they're frozen, they can then be placed in a large ziplock bag, where you can take out individual servings.
  • Foods should be slightly undercooked if they are to be reheated when thawed.
  • Plan on using frozen fruits & veggies within 3-6 months, and meat within a year.
For more info on freezing food, go here , here and here.

19 comments:

It's Just Me said...

I grate my zucchini and freeze it to use in zucchini bread later. It works fine for me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this list, it's very helpful. I've always wondered about milk. As for zucchini, I grate it first then freeze it into portions I'll need for zucchini bread. This way when winter comes I can make bread in the winter from my summer veggies!!! BTW, I love your blogsite.

Erin said...

Thanks so much for the valuable information. I think our freezer is going to be full soon!

AJ said...

I freeze yogurt and then eat it frozen instead of ice cream when I want a frozen treat. Much healthier!

suzyk74 said...

Thanks Jessica. This info was very helpful. I am going to try most of these!

Utah Deal Diva said...

I've tried grating zucchini and freezing it several times. Each time the water content just makes the zucchini almost slimy upon defrosting it. It smells odd- even after just a couple weeks in the freezer. It's not like fresh from the garden, kwim? It's a bummer- I LOVE zucchini bread and would love to make it into the winter!

Do you guys do it differently?? Maybe I'm missing a step.

Heidi said...

I also freeze zucchini and when I thaw it I just dump in all the moisture and my bread always turns out great. BTW, we loved your zucchini bread recipe.
I also freeze homemade bread, rolls, pancakes, and waffles all of the time and we think they taste almost fresh. The difference is very small.
Thanks for the list!

ihchicky said...

Great information. I never thought about freezing milk. I realize you still use it before the best before date but does anyone know if it stays good for longer if you freeze it? And if so, how long? I'm assuming it must be I'd like to be on the safe side. It'd be nice to not run out of milk ever again! lol :)

Marie said...

I have heard that freezing eggs isn't an issue as long as you don't freeze in the shell and you whisk the egg white and the yolk together. You can freeze in ice cube molds and then store in ziploc bags. You can also freeze whites and yolks separate, just be sure to whisk the yolks together first and then mark accordingly.

melissa said...

Just wanted to write that I have frozen eggs. Not on purpose, but my fridge has been in the garage until my hubby fixes it. So, all our food is also out there in coolers. Well, Christmas morning I went out to get my eggs to make breakfast burritos (our tradition) and all our eggs were frozen! And a little cracked. I ran them under warm water and then cracked them open. The frozen egg slid out, I put them in a pan on low, and then cut them up so they would melt better. Pretty soon they were cooking like normal eggs and tasted exactly the same!

American Fork said...

I love to make a huge batch of soup and freeze it in meal sized portions in good ziplock bags. When I feel like posole, I call my hubby and tell him to bring home some cilantro and pull a bag out of the freezer. So easy!

Staci @ Designing and Motherhood said...

I want to feature some of this info. and pictures on my blog. I'll of course link back it to you. Is that ok? www.designingmotherhood@hotmail.com

Staci
www.designingandmotherhood@blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I always freeze pancakes and waffles if I have leftovers. I have found that toasting them is the best way to reheat them, and they taste good plain.

Krista said...

Is a frost free freezer better than a manual defrost? Which one do you have?

Anonymous said...

I freeze blocks of cheese and use it later. I cut it into chunks the size I would need out at a time and freeze in individual bage and put all the little bags into one heavy zip bag or use my food saver on some. Once they are thawed in the refrigerator for a few days I find most will shred just fine. Especially the softer cheeses like Jack. I don't care if others crumble if I got a great deal on the price and had to freeze some to keep it good till I needed it. They even sell cheese crumbles in packages in the stores!! :) Sarah

Anonymous said...

I freeze blocks of cheese...the trick to make it not crumble is to take it out and let sit on the counter until the cheeze isnt even cold anymore before u put it in the fridge...if u still have issues with crumbling try lettin the next block sit for longer...tastes fresh and works every time

Anonymous said...

Can you freeze almond milk?

Trisha said...

No, I've tried to freeze Almond milk and it separates too much and looks really bad :(

Anonymous said...

Two foods you mentioned that can't be frozen, that I have found a way to freeze them. 1: block cheese. I slice it right after I buy it and slip squares of freezer paper between each slice. I put 10 -15 in a stack and put freeze in a ziplock bag. To use, I pull the ziplock bag out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge. When I need a slice of cheese I pull at the freezer paper then turn it onto my sandwich, etc. It crumbles a little, overall stays in form until eaten. It saves time and hassle and well worth the effort. I save my squares of freezer paper, give them a quick wipe to clean them store them and reuse them for the next round. 2: You mentioned potatoes can't be stored in any form. I have found that mashed potatoes can be. I like to use them in meals such as Shephard's pie, but also have enjoyed them warmed and eaten with gravy after freezing them. True, a slight difference in texture (not quite as creamy) yet still enjoyable.

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