Master the art of freezing and regular cooking will become easier and quicker. Freezing will also help you in planning meals in advance. You can also reduce food wastage….buzz words to being green!
1. Buy the freshest ingredients you can get. Always freeze the best produce.
2. Always wash and freeze prepared(cut, chopped, sliced) fresh vegetables.
3. Store liquids in firm containers and always leave some head space for the liquids to expand into.
4. Freezing will not destroy bacteria so make sure food is prepared under the most hygienic conditions.
5. Let all foods cool thoroughly before freezing.
6. Stay green by buying loose produce instead of pre wrapped goods. This way not only do you reduce the use of plastic but you can also buy smaller amounts.
7. Make sure to label and date all items before freezing. Remove all air from bags with loose food. To prevent formation of a frozen lump, freeze items spread out on a tray and then transfer the frozen goods into a seal able bag. You can then use as little or as much as required.
8. If possible under-cook food that is destined for the freezer.
9. Do not freeze food containing cream. Add cream after the food has been thawed. Same rule applies for garnishes.
10. Do not refreeze thawed food, but frozen vegetables can be frozen after cooking. Generally frozen uncooked food can be re-frozen after cooking.
11. Thaw food still in its wrapping and by moving it from the freezer to the fridge. This will require planning in advance as defrosting in the fridge will take longer. Thawing in the fridge as opposed to room temperature will reduce germ activity!
12. Avoid freezing dishes containing potatoes, mayonnaise, whole meat or poultry joints, jellies, sandwiches, hard boiled eggs. Food items like cucumber that has a lot of water also do not freeze well.
13. Always use good packaging such as heavy duty plastic seal able bags, clean seal able high quality plastic boxes, or aluminium seal able containers. Keep different sizes of sticking labels to label the items. Badly packaged food items can develop ‘freezer burns’ (white spots ) which can reduce flavour and nutrient value of foods. Poorly packaged foods can also alter the final texture of the dish.
14. Some foods like chutneys can be prepared in a large batch and frozen in old ice cube trays. Once frozen remove the chutney cubes from the tray and return to the freezer in an airtight container. Again only defrost required number of cubes at a time.
Advantages of Freezing
1. If done correctly, freezing food retains its freshness and quality.
2. Left over cooked foods can be frozen for later use. Remember to move the frozen item from the freezer to the fridge at least 24 hours before using.
3. Freezing prepared foods ahead can also help with entertaining friends and family.
Happy freezing. As always, do let me know if I have forgotten to add to these tips.