Freezing

 

Freezing is the easiest and most convenient way to preserve food. With a couple of steps you can fill your freezer with high quality nutritious food

 

General Tips

Start with good quality fresh products

 

  • Cut vegetables into serving sizes

  • Peel, core and slice fruit

  • Package meats in appropriate serving sizes

  • Label food with contents, freezing dates and amount

  • Freeze food as quickly as possible for best texture

  • Use within one year or less for best quality

  • Keep running inventory

  • Rotate food (first in, first out)

  • Texture of foods with high water content will be mushy when thawed (for example tomatoes)

  • Set freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, use thermometer

  • Do not over load freezer with unfrozen food. Freeze 2 -3 pounds at a time per cubic foot of freezer

  • Place unfrozen single layer of packaged foods on shelf or rack, not on frozen items – rearrange after frozen

  • Leave space between items for good air circulation

  • Food should be packaged with least amount of air

    • Use moisture/vapor proof packaging and materials made for freezer usage

    • Choose rigid containers or wrapping material appropriate to type and amount

      • Rigid Containers are used best for liquid. Chill liquid before storing. Leave ½ to 1 inch headspace for expansion. To reduce frost formation, cover food with plastic wrap and air should be expelled.

  • When defrosting vacuum sealed item, always put a slit in package

  • Always defrost in refrigerator, never on counter.

 

Safety & Quality

  • Freezing doesn’t improve quality of foods and does not kill microorganisms

  • Protein, fat and carbohydrate contents of food are not significantly affected

  • 10 – 20 % of water soluble vitamins are lost in freezing (vitamin C, thiamine, folic acid and riboflavin)

  • Salt in fatty foods (ham, bacon, sausage and hotdogs) may cause a rancid flavor after 2 months

  • Improperly wrapped, high fat foods will become rancid quickly, caused by oxidation

  • Freezer Burn (a drying out of food) caused by puncture or improper wrapping

  • Flavor of spices and seasoning is affected by freezing – some become strong, bland, bitter

  • Enzymes cause toughening and darkening

    • To stop enzymes for ripening

      • Blanch vegetables

      • Blanch or use antioxidants on fruits

  • Freezing foods quickly will help prevent large crystal formation, which breaks down cell structure

  • Re-freezing foods causes additional cell structure breakdown

  • Thawing foods in the refrigerator will help prevent growth of microorganisms which causes spoilage and may be dangerous

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Freezers

Free standing freezers are available in both chest and upright. Both are built to hold food at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. All upright freezers are frost free. Freezers that are attached to refrigerators are not recommended for long term storage, since it’s difficult to hold temp at 0 or below. Always choose a freezer that meets your needs (size and features).

 

Placement

                Choose location for convenient use. Dry basement new 60 degree Fahrenheit all year is ideal.

                Should not be placed in unheated areas to avoid compressor damage at freezing temperatures.

                Have good air circulation around the freezer.

Care

                Manual defrost freezers should be defrosted and cleaned yearly

                Clean all freezers inside and out with baking soda (read freezer manual)

                Use thermometer to monitor temperature

Power Failure

  • Avoid opening the door or lid. Insulate freezer with blankets or quilts

  • Obtain dry ice as soon as possible

  • Food is safe to refreeze if ice crystals are still present, or if freezer  registering a temp of 40 degree Fahrenheit or below

  • Fuller the freezer, the longer the food will stay frozen

  • Always keep a freezer bag of ice cubes in freezer. If they melt and refreeze you know the freezer has been off to long for food safety issues.

 

Preparing Fruit for Freezing

  • Select fully ripe, not mushy or soft fruit. Tree or vine ripened is the best.

  • Store product in refrigerator if preparation for freezing is delayed

  • Wash in cold running water, sort and discard unripe or bruised fruit.

  • Peel, trim, pit and cut for intended use

 

Antioxidant pre-treatments for fruit are used to prevent discoloration and flavor lose:

  • Most effective I crystalline ascorbic acid or crushed Vitamin C tablets

    • ½ teaspoon (1500 milligrams) per quart of water or syrup

  • Commercial product like Fruit Fresh – follow package instructions

 

Preparing Vegetables for Freezing

 

  • Select fully ripe, not mushy or soft fruit. Tree or vine ripened is the best.

  • Store product in refrigerator if preparation for freezing is delayed

  • Wash in cold running water, sort and discard unripe or bruised fruit. Do not soak.

  • Peel, trim, pit and cut for intended use

 

Pre-treating, Blanching -  destroy enzymes which causes underisble changes in color, nutritive, flavor and texture.

Boil water – 1 pound food (1/2 pound leafy greens) to 1 gallon water. Submerge in water from 30 – 90 seconds. Remove. To stop cooking process immediately add to ice cube water bath. Drain well before packing.

  • Vegetables do not need to be thawed before cooking

 

Freezing Meat, Fish & Poultry

  • Select high quality fresh meats

  • Trim excess fat

  • Cut for intended use

Packaging

  • Choose wrapping material that is appropriate to the type and amount of food

  • Freezer bags – Remove air by folding out the air, straw or vacuum sealer

  • Freezer Paper – Use “drug store” (fold in triangle) or “butcher” (Roll) wrap

  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil – Over wrap plastic wrap to prevent puncturing

    • To separate slices, patties, or pieces use 2 layers of freezer paper

 

  • Label with date, contents and amount.

 

SOME Foods That Do Not Freeze Well

 

CABBAGE, CELERY, LETTUCE, CUCUMBERS, RADISHES - BECOMES LIMP, WATER-LOGGED, QUICKLY OXIDIZES COLOR AROMA AND FLAVOR

COOKED MACARONI - BECOMES MUSHY IF WARMED TO LONG

EGG WHITES, COOKED AND MERINGUE - BECOMES SOFT, RUBBERY AND SPONGY

ICING MADE WITH EGG WHITES - BECOMES FROTHY, WEEPS

CREAM OR CUSTARD FILLINGS - BECOMES SEPARATES, WATERY, LUMPY

MILK SAUCES - BECOMES MAY CURDLE OR SEPARATE

SOUR CREAM - BECOMES SEPARATES, WATERY

CHEESE OR CRUMB TOPPINGS - BCCOMES SOGGY

MAYONNAISE OR SALAD DRESSING - SEPARATES

GELATIN  - WEEPS

FRUIT JELLY SANDWICHES - MAY MAKE BREAD SOGGY

FRIED FOODS – EXCEPT ONION RINGS OF FRENCH FRIES - LOSE CRISPNESS, BECOMES SOGGY

* Cucumbers and cabbage can be frozen as marinated products such as "freezer slaw" or "freezer pickles". These do not have the same texture as regular slaw or pickles.

 

Effect of Freezing on Spices and Seasonings

  • Pepper, cloves, garlic, green pepper, imitation vanilla and some herbs tend to get strong and bitter.

  • Onion and paprika change flavor during freezing.

  • Celery seasonings become stronger.

  • Curry develop a musty off-flavor.

  • Salt loses flavor and has the tendency to increase rancidity of any item containing fat.