Freezing is a common technique of food preservation. From leftovers to bulk meat, freezing foods is a way to save both time and money. However, if you don't know how to freeze foods properly, your foods can end up with freezer burn or become unsafe to eat. By following a few guidelines of proper freezer storage, your foods will last longer and will remain safe for consumption.
The first step in freezing any food is choosing the correct storage equipment. There are many products on the market for freezing, including freezer bags, storage containers and aluminum foil. Any type of freezing material used should be specially designed for freezing. Simple sandwich bags will not keep food safe from freezer burn.
Get the air out
It's important to get the air out of the bag or container when freezing foods properly. Cold air is the cause of freezer burn. When using containers for freezing, it's important to fill the container completely to avoid excess air. As with any process, there are typically exceptions to the rule.
CBSnews.com reports that Real Simple magazine recommends allowing some space at the top of a container when freezing liquid foods like soups and sauces. Since liquids expand when frozen, this small space is necessary. Real Simple adds that you should expect to keep soups and stews in a freezer for about two to three months.
If possible, freeze foods in small portions rather than as large, bulky pieces. Smaller portions of food will freeze more quickly. Only freeze portions that will be used at one time. When buying food such as meat in bulk, separate the meat into single-meal portions so that you only thaw the amount of food you need at one time.
Various factors influence the shelf life of foods in your freezer. Among them are the container, freezer temperature and whether the food is raw or cooked. The National Center for Home Food Preservation offers a guideline for freezing different types of foods, but you should always consider the outside factors as well. Generally, fruits and vegetables can be stored for eight to 12 months, poultry for six to nine months and fish three to six months.
Foods should never be frozen when hot. Wait until the food has cooled, place it in an appropriate freezing container, then store it in the freezer with plenty of circulation. Once the foods are completely frozen, they no longer need the side space and can be placed with other fully frozen foods. Remember to label the container with the contents and the date placed in the freezer.
If you need extra storage space for your food and your refrigerator freezer can't do the job, it may be time to purchase a separate freezer. You'll want to consider the freezer type, energy efficiency, features like freezer shelves, size and access of the appliance. With a little research, you'll find the right freezer for your budget and household needs.
These tips can help you prevent refrigerator problems from happening and deal with them when they inevitably do.