Tips for Freezing Food Properly
Why freeze foods? So you can enjoy your garden bounty (and sale items) at a later time. To successfully freeze food you want to avoid freezer burn.
Where would be be without today’s modern freezers? We’d be forced to can, dehydrate and cure our food. Now there’s nothing wrong with those methods and those skills should certainly be learned for anyone looking to become more self sufficient. However, as long as have modern conveniences, lets make the best use of them.
Freezing, allows you to keep foods in a controlled environment. You can make a double batch of lasagna (see our article on batch cooking) and enjoy it again a couple months later with minimal preparation. Freezing also helps kill bacteria (and weevils) (Always freeze your flour and corn meal when bringing it home from the store for at least 24 hours to kill any eggs in the product. Trust me, they’re in there..)
Have you ever brought something out of the freezer only to find it covered in ice? That’s freezer burn. You want to do your best to avoid that from happening and you can do so by freezing properly and rotating.
How to Freeze your Foods Properly
If you’ve an older freezer like mine (I bought it used from someone moving a long time ago…. it’s harvest gold. Does that tell you how old it is?) you might want to consider keeping a thermometer inside so you can monitor the temperature. Your freezer should maintain a temp at or below zero.
Know how to tell IF the freezer got too warm during a power outage? Put a cup of ice cubes in the freezer. If you ever open the freezer and find that the ice cubes are no longer in cube shape… as in melted an taken the shape of the cup) then you’ll know for certain.
If you’re buying premade goods, such as say, biscuits and sausage, you can keep them in the little original package as long as you use them within a month or two. Freezer burn isn’t caused by temperature, it’s caused by air. Those little packs of sausage biscuits have air in them…
If you’re putting items in the freezer for long term use such as cuts of ground beef, or chicken breasts, you’ll probably want to freeze them in individual portion sizes…example a pound of ground beef wrapped in foil, or two chicken breasts in a freezer bag…
A L W A Y S label everything. It’s hard to tell a freezer bag of spaghetti sauce from chili… … Write the name of the item along with the date you put it in the freezer. Waterproof sharpies are good for this.
Use freezer approved food containers. Only use freezer bags and plastic containers that say they are safe for the freezer. Store food in appropriately sized containers as well. (less air…) Use those leftover butter/sour cream, Chinese takeout for leftover in the refrigerator. They weren’t meant for the freezer.)
Let foods cool BEFORE putting them in the freezer.
Always squeeze as much air as possible out of your ziplocks.
Consider investing in a vacuum sealing machine like my Foodsaver. You’ll eliminate the freezer burn!
With just a little preparation, you’ll be freezing your bounty (and on sale foods) saving you both time and money.
In the Market for a New Deep Freezer?
KNOW where you’ll be putting the freezer. Go shopping armed with the dimensions of the space you intend to put the appliance. It needs to be in an easily accessible spot, with a light nearby, a space for a table or other surface to set things on, and close to a 220 plug (IF YOUR MODEL NEEDS 220.)
Research Before You Go
Do you know whether you want a chest type or an upright freezer? There are good qualities in both.
Do you need or want options?
Would you be happy with a model that required manual defrosting? If not, make sure that you look at frost-free models. Are the shelves adjustable? Are there baskets? An interior light?
Energy use Energy costs are getting higher all the time. Compare the annual costs of using the deep freeze. The freezers in the store will have stickers on them showing their energy rating.
Reviews Do you have a friend or family member that already owns a deep freeze? Do they love it? Wish they’d gone with something different? These days you can read product reviews right on the retailer’s website.
Price Compare prices. Just because one is much higher priced than the other does not mean it’s the best product. A quick look at a local store shows multiple Energy Star deep freezers ranging from about $500 to about $1600. That’s a big difference in price. On many sites, such as Home Depot (not affiliated… just sharing) you can compare side by side using their “compare” button. You can see sizes, amenities, energy use, etc….
Get your smart on before you shop!