Love your freezer

Love your freezer

A well-stocked freezer opens up a world of delicious possibilities for the clever cook

With busy lives a freezer is a cook’s best friend. You can pack your frozen space with home-made meals, fresh and frozen ingredients, ready for quick meals at the end of a long day.  Gone are the days when you had just an ice tray and a bag of frozen peas stuffed into your freezer drawer. Now it’s a foodies’ haven. Use your freezer wisely and you can store all the vital ingredients for time and money-saving meals.

freezer icon resizedLook 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.

Top tips for freezing food

1. You can safely freeze most raw or cooked foods provided you follow the principles of safe freezing:

2. Cool foods before you freeze them. Putting hot food in the freezer runs the risk of defrosting other foods.

3. Never re-freeze anything that’s been frozen. Even if the ingredient was frozen raw, then cooked to be extra safe it should not be re-frozen.

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

5. For best results with homemade food, cool down quickly (ideally within 90 minutes), divide into portions, place in an airtight container, label and then pop in the freezer.

6. Don’t let your freezer ice up and aim to defrost it regularly. An icy freezer is not as efficient. Your food will stay frozen for a few hours in the fridge while you defrost.

7. Defrost food in the fridge, ideally overnight, and use within 24 hours after defrosting. Reheat in microwave, covered in foil in the oven, or in a saucepan on the hob. Ensure food is cooked until steaming hot all the way through.

Hints and tips for making the most of your freezer space

1. Stock up with plastic bags, freezable tubs and label and date all your homemade meals and ingredients before freezing. On a busy day, the last thing you might feel like doing is labelling and storing leftovers, but it’ll be worth the effort when you’re tucking into your hassle-free, delicious meal later in the week. It’s also helpful to keep a handy list of what you’ve stored on the freezer door so you don’t lose track of what’s in your drawers.

2. Fresh bread from the in-store bakery is delicious but the wrappers are often paper or thin film and these should be replaced with air-tight freezer bags or plastic freezer wrap before freezing. 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.

3. A good way not to waste any fresh fruit or herbs is to freeze a handful when you’re cooking. Berries freeze brilliantly and can be added straight to smoothies or defrosted for cakes and puddings. Herbs can be frozen chopped or whole and are best added to slow-cook dishes. Apples are better pureed or stewed for use in jam or pie fillings rather than frozen whole. This also saves space.

4. Make sure meat is properly wrapped in airtight containers to avoid patches of freezer burn. It doesn’t look appealing, but freezer burn is not a food safety risk.

5. Milk can sometimes curdle or separate when frozen depending on its fat content. Semi or skimmed milk is likely to freeze most successfully. But don’t worry if it separates after thawing. Simply shake the bottle. The same is true for yogurt which just needs a hearty stir.

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

7. For best results with homemade food, cool down quickly (ideally within 90 minutes), divide into portions, place in an airtight container, label and then pop in the freezer. 

8. Never re-freeze anything that’s been frozen. Even if the ingredient was frozen raw, then cooked to be extra safe it should not be re-frozen.

9. Don’t let your freeze ice up and aim to defrost it regularly. An icy freezer is not as efficient. Your food will stay frozen for a few hours in the fridge while you defrost.

How to defrost food

Defrost food in the fridge, ideally overnight, and use within 24 hours after defrosting. Reheat in microwave or covered in foil in the oven, or in a saucepan on the hob. Heat thoroughly until piping hot.

Video: How to use your freezer

With thanks to Love Food Hate Waste

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