As winter sets in, you may feel yourself longing for comfort food. However, preparing meals is often time-consuming and laborious. You can avoid these problems by reducing meal preparation time with freezing recipes.
Freezing doesn’t have to be complicated or costly, but it does require some foresight before you prepare your dish. When planning to freeze a recipe there are 13 key things to keep in mind:
1) Freezing isn’t always an option
It’s important to remember that not all food can survive the freezing process well. Vegetables will lose their crispness and freshness if frozen, while fruit becomes soggy and mushy when thawed out. Foods containing high amounts of water will also spoil easily during the freezing process.
2) Double your recipe
This allows you to freeze one batch for later use, while eating the other. Make sure that all ingredients are correctly proportioned in order to maintain flavor and consistency when thawed out later on.
3) Quality is important
Freeze only recipes you know you will enjoy. Freezing meals before trying them out can lead to wasted food if they don’t turn out well after cooking or taste awful once they’ve been defrosted.
4) Consider the size of your freezer
It’s important to remember that not all freezers are created equal. A small freezer might only be able to accommodate smaller sized containers while large quantities of food may need to be separated into smaller batches.
5) Choose freezer-proof containers
Containers with airtight lids are probably your safest bet when it comes to storing your food without freezer burn, but you can also use ziploc bags, aluminium foil and plastic wrap for this purpose as well. These options will help prevent moisture from collecting on the inside of a container during freezing.
6) Separate raw foods from cooked foods
It’s important that raw meats don’t come into contact with other types of food in order to avoid contamination. Try placing meat separate from everything else during the freezing process, using shared space only once they’ve been cooked thoroughly.
7) Mark all frozen food
This will prevent you from forgetting what you have stored in the freezer and spending time looking for information later on. Use an indelible marker to label all food with “use by” dates, making sure that nothing gets thrown out too early.
8) Always defrost foods properly
It’s important to remember that safe thawing requires a certain amount of patience. Food should never be allowed to thaw at room temperature or quick-thawed using warm water or a microwave oven. This can lead to contamination and the spread of bacteria, causing foodborne illnesses such as E. coli and Salmonella poisoning. Instead, allow foods to thaw in the fridge overnight or under cold running water if you’re in a rush – just don’t forget about them!
9) Consume food as soon as possible
It’s important to remember that home cooked meals will only last in the freezer for up to three months. After this, they should be thrown out as bacteria will have likely begun to form and cause spoilage.
10) Use airtight containers
This stops food from absorbing smells and flavors from other types of food during storage. Make sure that they’re also moisture proof if you plan on placing items containing a lot of water (such as vegetables and certain cuts of meat) inside them.
11) Label all frozen foods
It’s important to remember what kind of food is stored inside each container, especially if they look the same once defrosted. A permanent marker and a piece of paper taped to the top of each dish is usually sufficient enough for this purpose, but you can also use masking tape or freezer labels that you can easily remove once you’re done defrosting everything.
12) Consider how raw food will freeze
For example, fish won’t last very long when frozen in its original packaging so try breaking it up into separate portions before freezing them instead. You can do this by wrapping pieces of meat tightly in aluminum foil and placing them on a tray before sticking them in the freezer until they become hard and opaque (usually about an hour). This technique is best used with individual servings.
13) Defrost your food correctly
It’s important to remember that you should never try to defrost frozen food in a microwave oven or on the kitchen counter. The best way to do this is by placing it in your refrigerator overnight or using cold running water – just make sure that the temperature of the water isn’t too hot! Make sure that raw meats don’t remain at room temperature for more than two hours during this process.