As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I am fortunate enough to own a drop freezer in addition to the freezer attached to my refrigerator. This allows me a lot of freedom in freezing various foods, as I have the space.The pros to freezing food?
• Saving $$$ – When freezable items are marked down, you can stock up! You can buy the cheaper bulk packages of items and split them up. I buy the big packages of chicken and then split them up into meal size amounts for my family and put in freezer bags.
• Quick Meals – I often freeze leftovers when I have enough. Even if it’s a single serving, that’s cheaper than buying a frozen meal. With certain meals, like quiche, it’s just as easy to make 2 as 1, so I make the extra to eat another time.
• Helping Friends – When you’ve got a stash of frozen meals, you can easily provide them to friends who are sick or out of commission for whatever reason without making a lot of work for yourself.
• Variety – Having a variety of frozen foods available, gives you flexibility in your cooking. Right now I could go to my freezer and pick shrimp, chicken, beef, pork, fish, etc.
The cons to freezing food?
• Not all foods freeze well
• With a drop freezer things tend to sink to the bottom and get forgotten. That roast is HOW old????
• Freezing slows bacteria growth, but does NOT kill it! So that food that sat out too long? Don’t think you can just freeze it and it will be OK. You want your food to be fresh when you freeze it.
• Some foods just don’t taste as great after freezing. If you’re investing in some expensive, fresh seafood eat it fresh if you can! It tastes OK after freezing, but not quite as good. Same thing with any expensive cut of meat. Eat it fresh when you can for best flavor. I mean we’ve all seen Gordon Ramsey yelling at some donkey on Kitchen Nightmares about serving frozen food in their restaurant. I don’t want him yelling at me!!!
What foods freeze well?
• Some breads – Our sandwich bread seems to do fine, but the hot dog and hamburger just seem to fall apart.
• Soups – Whenever I cook a whole turkey or chicken, I save the carcass after carving, boil it, and then put the resulting broth into containers and freeze it. This way I can cook with it later and not have to buy as much chicken broth, which I use a lot of. And I know exactly what’s in it!
• Dairy products – I just give a caveat here! I have found that you can freeze items like cream cheese and yogurt, but the texture changes and is not as smooth. BUT they still taste good and are usable in different ways. I use frozen yogurt to make smoothies and frozen cream cheese for cooking, instead of spreading. Butter freezes great!
• Pies – We have a cherry tree and I had more cherries than I could handle. I made a few pies (more than we could eat!) and froze one. We forgot about one, thawed it out and ate it a year later. It was still delicious!!!
• Fresh fruit – Back to my cherries! I also pitted and froze fresh cherries for use at a later date. This worked really well. Pretty much all fresh fruit freezes well. Bananas turning black? Don’t toss them! Throw them in the freezer and later you can use those bananas for baking.
• Raw dough – My pie crust recipe makes enough for two pies, so if I’m only making one pie, I will ball up the other half and put it in a freezer bag and freeze. Works great! You can do this with pizza dough too!
• Egg substitute – Freezes great! Buy it when on sale and freeze it for later! And BTW, this stuff works just as well as regular eggs in quiche and for baking. Keeps the cholesterol down too!
• Make sure food containers are mostly filled. You don’t want to leave a lot of air space, but foods with a lot of liquid do need room to expand, so leave a little room.
• Wrap foods well! You don’t want freezer burn on your foods, so wrap them tightly and consider double wrapping or using airtight freezer bags. I always carefully check the meat containers from the grocery store to make sure the wrap isn’t torn. Sometimes these need some additional wrapping. No use buying a $10-15 roast just to have it get ruined with freezer burn!
• LABEL YOUR FOOD!!! I’ve learned this lesson the hard way! Oh I’ll remember what that is! Yeah, right! When food freezes, the appearance often changes drastically. I have one bag in my freezer right now that is a complete mystery! But there is a lot of whatever is in there! Use a sharpie and label everything with the date and the contents. If you don’t want to ruin your containers with sharpie writing, put scotch tape on it and write on that. Later it will peel right off!