Freezing food is an excellent way to extend its shelf life. You can freeze individual ingredients or keep whole meals that can be reheated quickly. Chef Frank Proto from the Institute of Culinary Education gave us some tips on how to safely freeze food.
1. To freeze most of the vegetables, cut them and then blanch them.
Most vegetables (including broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts) should be blanched first to maintain color and taste. First cut the vegetables to the size you want to cook / serve later. Then cook briefly in salted water – how long depends on the type of vegetable and the size of the pieces, but for the vegetables mentioned here three minutes (or until it is soft) should be enough. Drain the vegetables and immediately cool them in an ice bath, which will stop the cooking process. Drain again.
Before your vegetables get near the freezer, make sure it is dry: the less water your ingredients retain, the better they stay in the freezer and resist harmful burns in the freezer. You can use a salad spinner to remove water and / or pat individual pieces dry with paper towels.
Then spread the individual pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze them for about an hour. This prevents them from turning into a large frozen lump in the freezer. Finally, store the food in a freezer bag or in an airtight container and remove as much air as possible. You should only use plastic containers or tempered freeze-proof glass such as Pyrex.
Use after freezing: Frozen vegetables can be used directly from the freezer. You may need to cook them a little longer to remove the retained water. However, they can be incorporated into pan dishes, soups and other dishes quite successfully.
2. Skip blanching for tender vegetables and fruits.
Tender greens such as spinach can be frozen without blanching. Peppers and sliced or diced onions can also ̵
Use after freezing: Fruits can be eaten or thrown into frozen smoothies or thawed for a snack. However, you don't want to thaw and then freeze again. Therefore, only take out the amount you want to eat in one session.
3. Make sure soups and stews are cool before freezing.
Placing hot items in the freezer can increase the ambient temperature. This can lead to problems such as burns in the freezer if the objects no longer freeze and freeze again. Therefore, let cooked soups and stews cool in the freezer before freezing.
For maximum safety, you want to cool the food as quickly as possible so that it only spends a minimal amount of time in the "danger zone" of the temperature at which bacteria can grow. For this purpose, you can divide hot objects into smaller containers. A larger surface area means that things cool down faster, so a flat freezer bag cools down faster than a deep saucepan or bowl.
You can also use an ice bath to quickly bring the temperature of the prepared food down. Fill the sink (or a large bowl) with cold water, add ice, and immerse the entire cooking vessel in cold water. Make sure that the water level does not rise high enough to get into your food. By stirring the hot food in a cold water bath, the temperature is lowered much faster than at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Use after freezing: Prepared dishes such as soups and stews can be heated in a saucepan straight from the freezer. You may need to microwave them for a few seconds to detach them from their containers. Otherwise, simply heat them in a saucepan until they have reached serving temperature.
4. Wrap meat with plastic and foil before freezing.
Raw vacuum-sealed meat can be frozen as is. Otherwise, wrap the meat tightly with plastic wrap and foil. Don't forget to tag articles that you can't identify later. If you put the data on the slide, you can also remember which items are the oldest so you can use them first.
Chef Frank also recommends putting your latest items deep in the freezer. This will freeze them faster and also encourage you to use the older items that are in the front of the freezer first.
He also advises against packing your freezer too tightly. While modern freezers can be filled quite a bit, you still want enough space for air to circulate – otherwise the back of the freezer stays cold while the front warms up relatively quickly, especially if you open the freezer repeatedly
after use after freezing: Frozen meat should be thawed in the refrigerator overnight. Large pieces of meat like a chicken may take two days in the refrigerator, while a large turkey may take three days. The refrigerator provides a safer temperature for defrosting than placing food on the counter. If you need to speed up the process, you can run the frozen meat under cold water.