Freezing your food is a great way to save time and money. You can do a big Costco run, make big batches of delicious things, and prep and freeze quick meals for your family to enjoy during the week. That being said, a strategic approach to freezing your food is recommended or you could end up sacrificing what you worked so hard to prepare. Here are some common frozen food mistakes to avoid:
Not prepping food optimally for freezing
If you freeze it right, your fresh summer produce can stay nutritious and delicious for up to 18 months. You want to get it at the peak of freshness, and make sure it’s adequately washed and dried before freezing. Chucking a bunch of wet berries into a freezer bag is going to result in a frozen brick that’s hard to separate–not ideal for smoothies. Pro tip: wash and dry your produce, then freeze it on a cookie sheet before putting it in containers to store in the freezer.
Mislabeling your food
Ever spend an afternoon preparing healthy family meals for freezing, then forget to label them? It’s too easy to just leave a no-name container of food to fester in the back of the freezer when you don’t know what’s inside. Proper labeling the contents can also help you avoid future embarrassment, such as feeding a vegetarian guest your meat lasagna by mistake.
Freezing at the wrong temperature
Don’t assume that your freezer is always at the correct temperature to keep your food adequately frozen. It should always be at 0°F or below to slow deterioration, stop bacterial growth and help your frozen food last longer. If your freezer doesn’t have a built-in thermometer, you can tell if it’s cold enough if your ice cream is rock hard. You can also purchase a freezer thermometer and check it once a week.
Leaving things in there too long
Your freezer can easily become a graveyard if you don’t keep on top of the dates on your food or make an effort to use what’s in there. When you’re labeling a container, be sure to include the date of packaging so you know how fresh something is. It’s also a good idea to challenge yourself to make creative meals using your frozen stores. Here’s some inspiration: The Freezer Gourmet.
Not maximizing your freezer space
A freezer packed efficiently is a thing of beauty. Whether you’re using stackable containers or vacuum sealing your freezer packages, there are plenty of ways to get the most from your freezer surface area. Check out this awesome space-saving trick: Foil Wrapped Freezer Meals.
Packaging things improperly
While freezer burn won’t give you food poisoning, it may affect the flavor and nutrition of your food. Freezer burn occurs when the food in your freezer is exposed to air. You can prevent this by using freezer bags and squeezing excess air out before sealing or using a vacuum sealer. You can also purchase containers that are specifically engineered for optimal food freezing. Here’s a great guide from The Kitchn: The Best Types of Packaging Freezing Food.
Do you have any pro food freezing tips? Share them in the comments or over on Twitter at @Luvoinc.