Freezing 101

October 02, 2012

What to do with leftovers or did you buy more than you can chew? Well then you need the SupermarketGuru’s 101 to freezing!

Ever found some great items on sale in the supermarket but didn’t buy them because you knew you weren’t going to eat them? Well maybe you could have frozen them! Now you can save money and shop smarter with this guide to freezing.

What can you freeze: Almost anything except canned goods or eggs in the shell. Avoid freezing: cream sauces, mayonnaise, and fresh greens.

How to: If freezing leftovers, allow the foods to cool. Place in plastic freezer bag (with zipper lock) making sure that all the air has escaped. Fresh vegetables should be blanched quickly in boiling water, drained, then placed in bag. Poultry and meats can be frozen in their original wrappers; but then placed in freezer bag. Spread packages in one layer on various shelves. Stack them after they have frozen, yet fill the freezer only up to 70 percent capacity to allow air circulation. Label items with what’s inside and the date frozen.

How to avoid freezer burn: Air is the culprit, so wrap all food tightly, secure all lids, and when freezing in your own containers, top foods with water, cooking liquid or oil. When in doubt, over-wrap securely.

What is the ideal temperature: 0 degrees F. is necessary. Use a thermometer and check once a month. (Refrigerators should be set to 40 degrees F.)

How long can food be frozen: All foods lose nutrients and flavor over time when frozen, especially leftovers. Guidelines: leftovers, 2-3 weeks; frozen entrees, 3-4 months; ground meat, 3 months; unopened lunchmeats or bacon, 1 month; uncooked beef, chicken or turkey, 1 year; cooked rice or beans, 3 months; fresh or frozen vegetables or fruits, 4 months.

How should frozen foods be thawed: Defrost in the refrigerator; or, defrost in a bowl of cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes until item is completely thawed, or in microwave if oven has feature. Cook thawed food immediately; do not refrigerate.