Your Guide On How To Use Your Freezer. Irrespective of the type of freezer you have the rules of freezing and thawing are the same. We have put together the DO’s and DON’T’s of Freezing Food to help you make the most of your freezer:
1. Cool foods that have just been cooked by placing in small open containers in the fridge before freezing as warm food increases the temperature of the freezer and this could cause other foods to start defrosting.
2. Fill your freezer as this prevents cold air having to circulate and saves on electricity. Leave space between packages so air can circulate around them but if you have large gaps between foods the place half filled plastic bottles with water to space them out and prevent them from sticking to each other. Always press excess air out of each bag before sealing
3. Defrost freezer regularly when ice builds up. The food will remain frozen in the fridge for a couple of hours while the freezer de-frosts.
4. Leave food in the freezer in the even of a power cut or you think the freezer has been turned off at some point. Never open the door. Foods should remain frozen in the freezer for about 24 hours.
5. Seal food in freezer friendly containers or freezer bags. Supermarket wrappings are safe for most foods frozen that have a freezer life span of between 1 to 2 months.
6. To ensure freshness you must only freeze fresh food. Food that has been in your fridge for more than a few days must be eaten or thrown out – never put in the freezer.
7. Label food properly by using colour labels to differentiate between raw meats, fish, chicken, breads, milks and cheeses (see freezing guidelines under 8). Always mark the date the food was frozen.
8. When freezing meat always check on the cut. Large cuts of meat such as steaks or roasts should not be frozen for more than 4 months (mincemeat for not more than 3 months). Cooked meats will only keep for an average of around 1 month. Fresh white fish will last up to 6 months while oily fish must be used within 3 months. Chicken parts can be frozen for up to 3months.
9. When freezing vegetables remember that if properly frozen, vegetables retain not only all their flavour but their nutrients as well. Vegetables such as peas, runner beans, carrots, broad beans, asparagus and broccoli should be placed in a pan first. Pour hot boiling water on top and boil for 30 seconds and then plunge into a bowl of icy water. Place in freezer bags.
10. Follow freezing guidelines:
- Butter can be frozen for 3 months
- Cheese up to 4 months
- Most bread except loafs and French sticks will last up to 3 months
- Milk will last up to 1 month
- Raw pastry up to 1 month.
11. Thaw food properly and ideally slowly in the fridge overnight. For larger cuts of meat this could take up to two days so plan properly. Alternatively place frozen foods in a microwave on the defrost setting but always ensure that you cook the food immediately afterwards as very often some parts of the food begin to cook in the microwave.
12. Cook straight from frozen foods such as soups, casseroles, pasta bakes and shepherd’s pie – use a low temperature to begin with and then as they thaw increase the cooking temperature.
Re-freeze food once it has been frozen. However, you can refreeze unused portions of cooked foods that have previously been frozen and thawed in the refrigerator.
Do not Freeze the following:
- Raw eggs as they will explode and crack
- Hard boiled eggs as they become rubbery and unfit for consumption.
- Egg-based sauces such as salad cream or types of mayonnaise as they will separate.
- Vegetables that have a high water content such as lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumber.
- Yogurts, low fat cream cheeses, single cream or cottage cheese as they turn watery in substance.
Never cook raw poultry, large joints of meat from frozen make sure they are fully thawed.
Never defrost perishable foods (meat, poultry, fish/seafood, dairy, eggs) in the house or on the kitchen counter. Always thaw in the fridge.
Get more freezer tips here in our Freeze Frame article