Using the right freezer packaging will help prevent freezer burn – those crystals that appear on frozen food due to the cold air getting in – which dries out and ruins the flavour of food. If you are freezing in plastic bags (great if space is a problem) squeeze out the air, but leave a little room if you are freezing soups or casseroles, as they expand a little on freezing. With plastic boxes, use the correct size – don’t allow too much of a gap between the food and lid, again, to avoid freezer burn.
Label, Label, Label !!
At some stage, we all find a foreign body lurking at the back of the freezer with no idea what it is. So make sure that you label everything with the contents and the date.
Always cool any food fully before packing and freezing, or it will cause the temperature of the freezer to rise. Open-freeze certain items, such as berries and vegetables before packaging, so that they don’t freeze into big lumps.
7 things you probably didn’t know you could freeze
- Eggs – lightly beaten eggs, beaten yolks, or whites can be frozen, but not an egg in its shell. I use the Mini Zip Lock Bags. Egg whites will deliver full volume if they are at room temperature. So, once the egg white is completely thawed in the fridge, let it come to room temperature before whipping.
- Cooked Rice – Freezing individual portions of cooked rice is a good way to ensure this side dish is always on hand and microwave-ready. Let the rice cool uncovered for 30 minutes, or until it is nearly room temperature. Measure the rice into serving portions and freeze in separate Zip Lock bags. Lay the bags down flat on the bench; press gently on the bags to smooth and flatten the rice and release as much air as possible. Seal the bags.
- Ginger Root – wrap peeled ginger in Clingfilm, then package in a freezer bag. Ginger grates well while still frozen.
- Cheese – Cut hard (Parmesan, Pecorino) and semi-hard cheeses (Cheddar, Swiss) into even size blocks, wrap in plastic, and then in a freezer bag. Grate hard cheeses while frozen; thaw others in the fridge.
- Butter and Margarine ONLY – Store in a freezer bag, in its original packaging for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge. Don’t freeze ‘butter mixes’.
- Nuts – store in an airtight container or Zip Lock bag for up to 6 weeks. Use straight from the freezer for recipes – no need to thaw.
- Bananas – freeze in their peel. Then, simply thaw and peel to use in smoothies and breads. Note: the peel will turn black, but that won’t effect the quality of the banana at all.
Flat Pack Freezer Packaging.
This is a real space-saver. Use Zip Lock bags to store soups, sauces, cooked rice and meal size portions of food, then “file” them in a plastic basket. They take up less space and thaw faster too.
Don’t forget to label both the bags and the baskets. Plastic luggage tags make great basket labels that are easy to see and easy to change.