A selection of meals stored in your deep freeze can be such a help, especially when catering for the unexpected guest or on occasions when you may have to go away, leaving family to look after themselves. Remember to label all such meals clearly with the date, contents and reheating instructions.
Meals such as casseroles and stews, etc should be partially thawed for at least 1 hour before reheating in a moderate oven (350ºF, gas number 4). The time allowed for reheating will vary depending on the quantity. A meal size for 6 usually takes 1 hour if partially thawed first.
Freeze pies in aluminum foil pie plates for convenience. They may be frozen baked or unbaked. Cooked pies naturally take less time to heat through. Once again, preheat your oven (400ºF, gas number 5) with a baking tray in place. Place the frozen pie onto a hot baking tray. Bake for 35-40 minutes. The direct heat will seal the pastry base before the filling thaws out, so preventing a wet base.
Soup may be frozen easily. Freeze in meal size portions. Heat the soup slowly without thawing before serving.
1. Always use rice flour to thicken gravy, sauces, stews, casseroles, etc., as ordinary flour or corn flour tends to separate on thawing. Gravy should not be stored for too long because of its high fat content.
2. Remember your deep freeze has a tenderizing effect on all food, therefore only partly cook any vegetables to be included in dishes to be frozen.
3. White potatoes do not freeze well, so omit from frozen stews and casseroles.
4. Development of poor flavors is often caused by flavoring such as onion (in large quantities), herbs, spices and wine, so it is wiser to add these after thawing.
5. Always make sure meals are completely cold before packaging to freeze, as warm meals placed into freezer cause condensation and loss of quantity.
Whenever possible use tinfoil or aluminum foil dishes for storing pre-cooked meals in your freezer, as these can be used to reheat meals in a hurry without thawing. This is straight from freezer to oven and adds 20 minutes to reheating time. Alternately, there is a type of 'temperature-resistant' casserole on the market which may be taken straight from the deep freezer and place immediately in a hot oven.
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