April 5, 2012 at 8:00pm PM EDT

    Buy in bulk or prepare extra meals for the freezer — then follow some tips to keep food fresh, safe and flavourful when you freeze it.

    Related story How to Keep Your Food Safe During a Power Outage

    It’s smart economics and a true time-saver to cook ahead and buy in bulk and freeze items so you’ll always be able to prepare quick and creative meals. We keep all sorts of things in our freezers, but need to remember some rules when freezing foods to keep them safe, fresh-tasting and flavourful.

    Bulk storage

    Food freezes best and most completely in smaller containers. This allows the food to freeze faster and more solidly, discouraging the growth of any bacteria. Containers of four litres or smaller are ideal. If you are freezing a lot of hot food — large quantities of chilli, spaghetti sauce, soups or stew — stir the contents occasionally as it freezes to keep the cold circulating, and portion your large amount out into several smaller containers. The food should be approximately three inches thick within the container. Store hot items in the coldest section of the freezer until they are completely frozen throughout.

    Label it

    Even if you plan on using the frozen items soon, label everything with a note of the contents and the date it was frozen. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued some guidelines for how long items should be frozen before use to ensure good quality remains. Bacon and sausages should be used within two months of freezing. Items like casseroles, soups and stews can be frozen before use for up to three months. Frozen dinners, entrees and uncooked ground meats should retain their good quality for four months and uncooked roasts will be fine anywhere up to 12 months in the freezer if they are packaged carefully. Cooked poultry lasts up to four months, while uncooked poultry can live in your freezer for as long as one year. Storing items in airtight containers and wrapping them carefully is critical in preventing freezer burn and extending the life of frozen foods.

    Defrosting

    Most vegetables can go straight from the freezer to the oven; the exception is corn on the cob which should be partially defrosted before cooking. Water expands when freezing, and the high quantity of water contained in fruits and vegetables causes their cells to break down as the water they contain expands during freezing. This can cause some thawed fruits and vegetables to have a mushy texture even while the food is perfectly safe and edible.

    Thawing foods at room temperature works for baked goods like muffins, breads and rolls and bagels. Other foods should be thawed in the refrigerator or on the thaw setting on the microwave.

    Cheeses are difficult to thaw because the milk they contain tends to separate. The cheese will retain its flavour characteristics but may be slightly crumbly. Most susceptible to this are cream cheese and blue cheeses. When this happens, a good use for the cheese is to incorporate it into other dishes.

    If you lose power, keep your freezer door closed! A fully stocked freezer should be able to keep food frozen for up to two days if the door remains closed.

    More food tips

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    What are the rules for freezing food?
    What's the best way to freeze food?
    • Keep things cold: Make sure your freezer is 0°F.
    • Don't put hot food in the freezer: If cooked, allow food to cool completely.
    • Wrap and seal food tightly: Foil, plastic wrap and plastic freezer bags help protect food from freezer burn.
    more
    What is the two hour rule for food?
    Remember the 2-Hour Rule: Discard any perishables left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, unless you're keeping it hot or cold. If the buffet is held in a place where the temperature is above 90 °F, the safe holding time is reduced to 1 hour. Watch the clock with leftovers, too! more
    What are food chains and food webs Why are smaller food chains better?
    Smaller food chains are better because the energy loss at each trophic level is so great that after three or four trophic levels, there is very little usable energy remaining to support the next trophic level. As a result, the reduced size provides additional stability. more
    What is the 2-hour rule for food?
    Remember the 2-Hour Rule: Discard any perishables left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, unless you're keeping it hot or cold. If the buffet is held in a place where the temperature is above 90 °F, the safe holding time is reduced to 1 hour. Watch the clock with leftovers, too! more
    Is frozen food processed food?
    "Processed food" includes food that has been cooked, canned, frozen, packaged or changed in nutritional composition with fortifying, preserving or preparing in different ways. Any time we cook, bake or prepare food, we're processing food. more
    What is the two hour four hour rule of food safety?
    Food held between 5°C and 60°C for less than 2 hours can be used, sold or put back in the refrigerator to use later. Food held between 5°C and 60°C for 2-4 hours can still be used or sold, but can't be put back in the fridge. Food held between 5°C and 60°C for 4 hours or more must be thrown away. more
    Can I get the coronavirus from food, food packaging, or food containers and preparation area?

    Currently there is no evidence of food, food containers, or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. If you are concerned about contamination of food or food packaging, wash your hands after handling food packaging, after removing food from the packaging, before you prepare food for eating and before you eat.

    Jul 13, 2022 more
    How does climate change affect food availability food accessibility food utilization and food systems stability?
    Climate change has been found to have an impact on food safety, particularly on incidence and prevalence of food-borne diseases. Increased climate variability, increased frequency and intensity of extreme events as well as slow ongoing changes will affect the stability of food supply, access and utilization. more
    What is the right food rule?
    Eat a variety of fruits (2 or more servings a day). Eat whole-grain, high-fiber breads and cereals (3 to 6 servings a day). Reduce or eliminate refined or processed carbohydrates; most of the grains in your diet should be whole grains. Drink fat-free or low-fat milk and eat low-fat dairy products. more
    What is the four hour rule in food safety?
    ServSafe states that 4 hours is the maximum length of time ready-to-eat foods can stay in the temperature danger zone. After the 4 hour limit, foods must be thrown away. Within the 4 hour time limit, foods can be consumed, reheated, or chilled to bring them back to food safe temperatures. more
    Is fast-food fake food?
    Beef, chicken, and fish products at fast-food restaurants aren't always made from 100 percent meat. They can contain additional additives, such as a textured vegetable protein or a soy product, that make them cheaper to produce. Health experts say these types of processed meats are less healthy than unprocessed meats. more

    Source: www.sheknows.com

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