Storing frozen food is normal with my weakness. I won’t lie when I say my weakness is buying food in bulk. It’s a trait that my mother passed down to me and one I’m proud to say I’m not ashamed of.
She educated me from an early age, often asking whether I preferred to spend a buck on 2 apples or 10 apples. But buying food in bulk also means storing frozen food.
Because a lot of food doesn’t last long unless prepared for with long-term storage.
The money saved by buying food in bulk amounts to thousands when calculated over the course of a year. But what do you do with all that food? It’s not like you’re able to eat it all at once.
While canning food is one great option, there is another, one I also employ on a regular basis. For a more in-depth article on all the benefits, check out this article on the Benefits of Frozen Food.
Tips and Benefits of Frozen Food
In this article, I want to share some useful freezing pointers with you, ones that I hope will make the process so much easier for you. Freezing food can be a science, different foods needing different preparation, while some foods don’t freeze well at all. There’s also the importance of packaging and labeling the foods correctly, because believe me, once some foods freeze, there’s no identifying which is which.
Tip #1: Determine food type
One of the most common questions I get asked is how long can I store frozen food. And the answer is, it depends on several factors. The type of food is one critical component because every food is different. As a simple guide, and assuming your food freezes at 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), the follow these time-frames-
- Fruits and Vegetables- 8 to 12 months
- Poultry- 6 to 9 months
- Fish- 3 to 6 months
- Ground or Minced Meat- 3 to 4 months
- Cured or Processed Meats- 1 to 2 months
Tip #2: Blanching
Whilst fruits and vegetables are some of the longest freeze-able foods, there’s a certain point that needs following to ensure the quality of the food remains. Blanching all fruits and vegetables ahead of freezing preserves the flavors, nutrients and sustainability of the food in its frozen state. The blanching process halts enzymes that are the root cause of flavor loss, poor color retention and nutritional degeneration.
The best methods for blanching fruits and vegetables include-
- Water Blanching
- Steam Blanching
- Microwave Blanching
The fruits and vegetables differ in blanching times, ranging from 2 to 11 minutes, while other varieties will need thorough cooking.
Tip #3: Consider proper packaging
The packaging you use will also affect the quality of the food you freeze. But before you even consider packing the foods, there is one very important thing to remember. Cooling of the foods is ultra-important. Not only will cooling the foods speed up the freezing process, but it will also help your food retain some of the important characteristics, like color, flavor, as well as the original texture.
Once ready for packing, the container should be moisture and vapor resistant, has to be leak-proof and durable and able to protect the food from odors and flavors from other foods.
You’ll also want them to be simple to open and seal. While there are specifically-branded freezer bags available, other choices include plastic, glass or aluminium containers, plastic bags and even a number of wraps, like plastic, aluminium or laminated paper.
Tip #4: Labeling
Labeling is another important thing to consider. Once certain foods freeze, you will struggle to properly identify them from others. Imagine waiting hours for a delicious rib eye to thaw, while all along, it’s a piece of ‘gravy beef’ for your slow-cooker.
A proper labeling system ensures mistakes will be minimal, while identifying your foods easily and quickly. Maybe use a color-coded system, such as red labels for red meat, yellow for white and green for fish. Use specifically-marked freezer tape or pens and labels that you know will retain readability.
Tip #5: Group the preserves properly without overloading the freezer
Stacking is probably one of the more important things to consider. Firstly, consider keeping types of foods close to each other. That way you won’t mix foods and create unnecessary confusion when trying to find a specific item.
But also take care in how much food you have. Some foods will need decent airflow while freezing. This is especially important when mixing new and old foods.
A good rule of thumb is to keep the fresh foods well spaced out until they freeze, then bunch them up to increase available room.
Try not to overload your freezer with too much unfrozen food, especially if you already have frozen foods. It will increase the freezing times of the fresh food, and may significantly reduce its quality. Allowing plenty of circulation will ensure it freezes fast and retain all its goodness for when you need it.
All of these tips will help you with storing frozen food, saving you time , money and wasted food.