By PK, We Live Concepts
As the first weekend of summer arrives, America is on the road again. Before you pack your bags, it may be helpful to freeze some food so that you can have something ready in a flash when you return. I have thrown a lot of leftovers in the freezer before. Nevertheless, I wanted to do it right this time. So, I checked out the USDA’s page on Freezing and Food Safety to verify all the facts about freezing my food. Here’s what I found…
- The truth is, just about any foods can be frozen, except those in cans and eggs in shells. As usual, certain foods freeze better than others. For example, raw meat freezes better than cooked meat because it contains more moisture.
- Check the freezer to make sure you can trust. it should be able to maintain a constant 0 degrees F to freeze your food safely.
- Although freezing at 0 F can stun many microbes such as bacteria, yeasts, molds (and may even kill some parasites such as Trichina), home-frozen foods should still be thoroughly cooked after thawing so as to prevent illness..
- Freeze food quickly when it is most fresh. It generally tastes better after thawing. Rule of thumb: foods that are 2 inches thick should ideally be frozen within 2 hours. If thicker, you can have a bit more time. Freezing rapidly also prevents those nasty large water crystals from forming.
- Freezing does not reduce the nutrients in foods. So don’t worry about that.
- To retain the freshness of vegetables after freezing, try blanching them in boiling water or microwave them, then quickly chill them before freezing.
- Believe it or not, freezer-burned foods actually cannot kill you, or even hurt you. However, to reduce freezer burn, freeze food in vacuum packaging or remove as much air as possible before putting food in the freezer.
- Remember the 3 safe ways for thawing: in refrigerator, in cold water or in microwave.
- Frozen foods such as meat, poultry or casseroles take about 1 ½ times longer to cook.
- Re-freezing is safe, but remember these rules. Foods left in the refrigerator can be refrozen in 3 to 4 days. On the other hand, if the foods are left outside the refrigerator, you will need to refreeze them within 2 hours, or 1 hour if the room’s temperature reaches above 90F.
As you are preparing for your vacation, re-visit these recipes. They should freeze well.
To find out more about USDA’s guidelines for freezing foods, check out Freezing and Food Safety