Freezing foods when buying in bulk is a great way of saving money. It is also a huge time saver when you pre-prepare foods or do freezer cooking. Freezing food is perfectly safe provided you following some simple guidelines.
What I Can and Can’t Freeze?
You can pretty much freeze most foods. The exceptions include:
- Food in Cans
- Eggs in Shells
- Foods that have been frozen previously and not yet cooked
- Foods that have been cooked and frozen and reheated
Just because you have frozen the food, it doesn’t mean that the quality after defrosting will be as good. This really depends on what is being frozen.
Some foods that don’t defrost terribly well include:
- Yogurt (great if you keep it frozen – frozen yogurt!)
- Creamy sauces
- Cake icings made with egg whites
- Creamy fillings, icing and frosting
- Soft cheeses
- Sour cream
Seeing a theme there…. yes foods with dairy don’t really hold up well to the whole freezing caper. Surprisingly though, milk freezes really well on its own – all it requires after defrosting is a good shake!
Is Frozen Food Safe to Eat?
The biggest danger with frozen food is the defrosting method. When food is not defrosted correctly, bacteria can breed and food poisoning can be the result. The very best way to defrost food is in the fridge overnight. The larger the amount of food frozen, the longer it will take. For example, a normal frozen chicken will take approximately 36 hours to defrost in the fridge, as a large turkey or ham could take up to three days. Store the food on the bottom shelf of the fridge, not only is it the coldest part of the fridge, but it will prevent the food from dripping on other food, thus contaminating it.
For faster thawing, place food in a leak proof plastic bag and immerse it in cold water. (If the bag leaks, bacteria from the air or surrounding environment could be introduced into the food. Tissues can also absorb water like a sponge, resulting in a watery product.) Check the water frequently to be sure it stays cold. Change the water every 30 minutes. After thawing, cook immediately.
When microwave-defrosting food, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving.
When freezing food, always make sure you write the date on the package so you know how long it has been frozen for. Frozen food lasts a very long time provided it is kept at a constant temperature – but the quality will gradually fade.
We do not advocate cooking un-defrosted meat in your slow cooker or crock pot – the risk of the food not being cooked properly is too great and it can result in a nasty case of food poisoning.
Preparing Food for the Freezer
Taking a bit of extra time to prepare food properly for the freezer will ensure you food lasts the distance. Proper packaging helps maintain quality and prevent freezer burn. It is safe to freeze meat or poultry directly in its original packaging, however this type of wrap is permeable to air and quality may diminish over time. For prolonged storage, remove them from the packaging, dry carefully with paper towels (don’t rinse!!!) – discard any wrapping and re-wrap in plastic wrap – twice! If you notice that a package has accidentally been torn or has opened while food is in the freezer, the food is still safe to use; merely overwrap or rewrap it.
Freezer burn does not make food unsafe, just dry in spots. It appears as grayish-brown leathery spots and is caused by air coming in contact with the surface of the food. Cut freezer-burned portions away either before or after cooking the food. Heavily freezer-burned foods may have to be discarded for quality reasons.
Freezer Storage Time
Because freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, recommended storage times are for quality only. Refer to the freezer storage chart at the end of this document, which lists optimum freezing times for best quality.
If a food is not listed on the chart, you may determine its quality after thawing. First check the smell. Some foods will develop a rancid or off odor when frozen too long and should be discarded. Some may not look picture perfect or be of high enough quality to serve alone but may be edible; use them to make soups or stews.
To read more great tips on making food last longer – Click Here