Freezing can be a great way to keep food from going to waste. People can freeze ingredients that would otherwise go bad before they could use them, and they can also freeze complete dishes to get convenient meals later on. Here are some tips to help people safely freeze tasty meals.
Speed Up Freezing With Proper Storage Methods
To make sure freezing goes as smoothly as possible, let food cool to room temperature before packing it into containers. This will keep it from heating up the freezer and partially melting other items. People should also avoid stacking foods in the freezer until they are frozen completely. According to Ina Garten, leaving a little space around them at first will speed up freezing.
Properly Pack and Label Containers
Remember that water expands as it freezes, so it is never a good idea to pack a container to the brim with liquid and freeze it. This can end up causing messy explosions inside the freezer. Instead, try to leave at least an inch or two of space inside.Once things freeze, it can be hard to tell them apart. A simple label with the name of the food and the date of freezing can help cooks easily find what they need in their freezers.
Know Which Foods Freeze Well
The main danger of freezing food is that it causes the water inside food cells to expand, potentially bursting the cell. This can lead to a mushy texture when things like fresh fruits and vegetables are thawed. Typically, the best things to freeze are lower moisture items with a lot of fat, since fat helps protect texture when foods freeze, or foods that are entirely liquid. Some good options include things like raw meats, soups, lasagnas, pasta sauce, bread, milk, eggs, and premade breakfast burritos.
Know How to Safely Defrost
Food safety experts say that people should never defrost their food by leaving it on the counter or in a bowl of water. Instead, it is best to plan ahead and put food in the refrigerator to defrost overnight. This ensures temperatures never enter the danger zone of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit where bacteria grows.