Freezing tips and techniques
How to use your freezer to avoid spending hard-earned dollars on take out!
When freezing food, make sure you leave plenty of clear space around each container or package you are freezing to allow the air to flow around the unfrozen food and freeze the food quickly and evenly. After the packages are frozen, stack them more efficiently.
Foods frozen in smaller quantities will freeze faster than foods frozen in larger quantities, helping to prevent a buildup of large ice crystals.
Use shallow containers with a wide surface area relative to depth. This will enable food to freeze quickly all the way through. If using plastic freezer bags for meats, vegetables, sauces, or soups, seal them well, then place them flat on a chilled baking sheet until frozen solid. Again, a wide surface area will aid in the formation of tiny ice crystals and will also make for faster thawing.
It is important to cool food completely to room temperature before freezing. Placing hot foods in the freezer will raise its temperature, slowing down the freezing time and possibly thawing other foods, and the centers of the foods may not freeze quickly enough to prevent spoilage.
To make sure that foods such as uncooked meatballs, ground meat patties, dumplings, ravioli, cookies, profiteroles, meringues, and individual cakes retain their shapes and remain separate upon freezing, use the open-freeze or dry-freeze method to freeze food quickly on all sides. Place a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or plastic wrap in the freezer and chill for 10 to 20 minutes. Place the food in a single layer on the lined baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between the pieces, and freeze for about 1 hour or until solid. Then pack in plastic freezer bags, vacuum-sealed bags, or airtight freezer-safe plastic containers and return to the freezer. Be sure to mark the packages or containers with their contents and the date.
Choose packaging materials that will protect the food's flavor, color, moisture content, and nutritional value from the dry climate of the freezer. Containers should:
- Not become brittle and crack at low temperatures. Look for the freezer symbol, often a snowflake,
to indicate that it is freezer safe.
- Be durable, leakproof, and easy to seal and mark.
- Be oil, grease, and water resistant (no uncoated paper containers).
- Protect against absorption of outside flavours and odors.
From Can I Freeze It?. Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. copyright © 2007 by Susie Theodorou.
All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Harper Collins Publishers Ltd.