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Love your freezer

A well-stocked freezer opens up a world of delicious possibilities and makes cooking on busy weeknights much easier and quicker. Pack your freezer with homemade batch meals, fresh food and frozen ingredients, ready for quick meals at the end of a long day. Use your freezer wisely and you can store all the vital ingredients for time- and money-saving meals. Look out for the snowflake logo on food packaging and recipes – it tells you which foods and recipes you can safely freeze. Guidelines on food packaging will advise you on length of time to store freezable foods.

  1. Top tips for freezing food

    You can safely freeze most raw or cooked foods providing you follow the principles of safe freezing. Take a look at our top tips below:

    1. Make sure all cooked food is cooled thoroughly before freezing, ideally within 90 minutes. Adding food that is still hot to your freezer runs the risk defrosting other foods.

    2. Once cooled, divide into portions, place in airtight containers, label, then pop into the freezer.

    3. Always freeze food before the use-by date.

    4. Never refreeze raw meat (including poultry) or fish that has already been frozen and defrosted. If you cook frozen meat or fish once fully defrosted, you can then refreeze. Be sure to only refreeze cooked meat and fish once, as long as it is properly cooled beforehand. If you are unsure whether something can be refrozen, it is always best to avoid doing so.

    5. Defrost food in the fridge, ideally overnight, and use within 24 hours of defrosting. Reheat in a microwave, covered in foil in the oven, or in a saucepan on the hob. Ensure food is reheated until piping hot throughout.

  2. Make the most of your freezer space

    1. Defrost your freezer regularly to avoid it icing up, which makes it less efficient. Your food will stay frozen for a few hours in the fridge while you defrost your freezer.

    2. Labelling your homemade meals and ingredients before freezing makes it easier to keep track of the contents of your freezer, and you can even keep a handy list of what you've stored on the freezer door.

    3. Keep full to help retain the cold, but don't overpack as this will prevent the air from circulating.

  3. How to store food

    1. Replace thin plastic or paper wrappers (such as those on fresh bread) with airtight freezer bags, which are better able to protect frozen food. When defrosting bread, take care to remove any ice, as this can cause soggy patches when thawing. Most bread will freeze well for up to 3 months.

    2. Don't let leftover fresh fruit or herbs go to waste – they're perfect for freezing. Berries freeze brilliantly and can be added straight into smoothies or defrosted and used in bakes. Herbs can be frozen chopped or whole and are best added to slow-cooked dishes. Apples are better puréed or stewed rather than frozen whole (which also saves space), for use in jam or pie fillings.

    3. Make sure meat is stored properly in airtight containers to avoid patches of freezer burn. While it doesn't look appealing, freezer burn is not actually a food safety risk.

    4. Depending on its fat content, milk can sometimes separate when frozen. Skimmed or semi-skimmed milk is likely to freeze best, but don't worry if it separates after thawing – simply shake the bottle. The same is true of yogurt, which just needs a good stir.