There are several advantages to using your freezer well, many of which are described in the article Making the Most of Your Freezer. There are pitfalls such as freezer burned food however, and some foods are better for freezing than others. In this article you will find out which foods freeze best, how to prepare foods for freezing, how long they should stay frozen, and the best methods for thawing them.
* Save time. You can cook food ahead of time and pull it out of the freezer when you need a fast dinner.
* Save seasonal foods. If its harvest season and you have more fresh fruits and veggies than you can eat, throw some in the freezer and enjoy them later!
* Preserve foods until you are ready to cook them. The freezer will keep your groceries from spoiling.
Before you Freeze
* Freeze food in small amounts. This way it is easy to thaw just the amount you want.
* Use containers that are air tight and especially designed for the freezer to keep your food tasting fresh.
* Label your packages clearly with the name of the food and the date it was frozen to help you keep track later when it is frosty and hard to see.
* Use a First-In-First-Out method by always rotating newer items to the back of your freezer. This way you will use up the oldest items first.
* Keep your freezer temperature set to 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C) or below. At this temperature most bacteria will not grow so your food is safe from spoiling.
Thawing Frozen Foods
* If food is shrivled or freezer burned then just throw it out.
* Don't wait until the last minute to start thawing. Transfer the frozen item to your refrigerator the day before you need it so it can be thawing over time.
* If you need to thaw more rapidly place the item in a leakproof container and place it in cold water. Change the water periodically until the item is thawed.
* If you must defrost using a microwave then make sure the packaging is microwave safe and stir food halfway through to make sure it warms evenly. Food thawed in this way should be eaten immediately.
* NEVER thaw food by leaving it at room temperature.
What To Freeze and For How Long
Many items can be frozen, and most foods frozen at the proper temperature will never spoil. However after certain amounts of time the food may become damaged and lose its flavor or quality. Here are examples of some common items and how long they should be frozen:
Fish: Up to three months. Wrap in foil and place in a freezer safe zipper bag with the excess air removed. Lean fish can be frozen for up to twice as long if they are frozen soon after they are caught.
Steaks: Up to eight months. Steaks should always be frozen raw and should be individually wrapped and then placed in an air tight container (such as a freezer bag) before freezing.
Soups and Stews: Up to three months. When freezing soup the most important tip is to freeze it in individual servings so you do not have to thaw it all and refreeze it every time you want a portion of the soup. Divide the soup into individual portions in freezer bags and then place the freezer bags on a cookie tray to freeze. Once they are frozen you can remove them from the tray and stack them in your fridge normally.
Freezing food is an important tool in the toolbox of any home chef. By using your freezer effectively you can save yourself time and money. For more in-depth tips on using your freezer and for a full chart of common items and how long they can be frozen, view: Making the Most of Your Freezer at http://www.homerunmeals.com/
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