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To successfully freeze foods, there are some simple rules you need to follow. The two most important bits of advice are to make sure you wrap the foods very well, and that you keep careful track of what is in your freezer. Freezer burn is dehydration of the food caused by improper packing, and wastes food. And if you don't label the foods in your freezer and have a frequently updated chart of what's in there, your freezer will be impenetrable in a very short time - which also wastes food.

If you are interested in Once A Month Cooking (OAMC) and doing the bulk shopping, cooking and freezing to fill a freezer in one-two days, please refer to the Cook Once A Month! Subject List. There will be more information in the weeks ahead on this topic at Busy Cooks. This Cooking Lession will just cover the basics of what freezes well and what doesn't. For more information on OAMC. The chart below will help with special instructions and the length of time foods can be safely frozen.

FOOD STORAGE TIME SPECIAL TIPS
BREADS, MUFFINS Up to 1 month
Cool completely before freezing. Do not frost. To thaw, loosen wrap and let sit at room temp 2-3 hours. To heat, wrap in foil, reheat 350 degrees 15-20 minutes. Heat frozen waffles without thawing first.
SANDWICHES Up to 2 weeks
Don't make sandwiches with jelly, mayonnaise, cooked egg whites or raw veggies (especially lettuce). Choose peanut butter, cream cheese, meats, shredded cheeses, grilled and cooked veggies. Spread bread with a very thin layer of butter before layering.
FROSTED CAKES Up to 3 months
Buttercream frosting freezes well. Custards and egg white frostings do not. Cool completely. Place unwrapped cake in freezer to harden frosting before wrapping. Thaw loosely covered overnight in fridge.
UNFROSTED CAKES Up to 6 months
Cool completely before freezing. Place cakes, especially angel and chiffon, in cake container to avoid crushing. Thaw, wrapped, at room temperature 2-3 hours.
CUSTARD PIES, CREAM PIES, MERINGUES Do not freeze well
Not recommended
UNBAKED FRUIT PIES Up to 3 months
Before filling, brush bottom crust with egg white to prevent sogginess. Add extra tablespoon of flour to filling. Don't cut vent holes in pastry. Cover with inverted pie plate until firm. To bake, unwrap, cut vent holes, bake at 425 degrees 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees, bake according to recipe until center bubbles and crust is brown.
BAKED FRUIT PIES, NUT PIES Up to 4 months
Cool completely before freezing. Cover with inverted pie plate until firm. Wrap well. To heat, unwrap, bake at 325 degrees for 30-45 minutes until warm.
COOKIE DOUGH Up to 3 months
Wrap well. Let thaw in refrigerator overnight before baking unless the recipe states the frozen dough can be baked. Shape into cookies before freezing for fastest baking.
BAKED UNFROSTED COOKIES Up to 1 year
Cool completely, wrap well in layers in freezer container and freeze. Thaw, wrapped, at room temperature. For crisp cookies, thaw unwrapped at room temperature.
BAKED FROSTED COOKIES Up to 2 months
Freeze uncovered on cookie sheets until cookies and frosting are firm. Then stack in layers in freezer container, wrap well and freee. Thaw, wrapped, at room temperature.
BUTTER Up to 9 months
Freeze in original packaging, placed into heavy duty freezer bags. Thaw in refrigerator or in microwave.
MILK, CREAM Difficult to freeze unless whipped
Milk, cream and light cream will separate
Whipped heavy cream will freeze well. Place dollops on cookie sheet, freeze until firm, then place in bags and freeze. Let thaw in refrigerator.
UNCOOKED EGGS, EGG SUBSTITUTES Up to 6 months
If freezing yolks separately, add 1 tsp. sugar or salt per egg yolk, depending on end use. Make sure to mark what you added!
COOKED EGGS, MAYONNAISE Do not freeze well
Not recommended
VEGETABLES Up to 6 months
Blanch before freezing. Remove as much air as possible from package before freezing. Vegetables with lots of water like salad greens and tomatoes do not freeze well. Do not freeze deep fried vegetables.
FRUITS Up to 6 months
Up to 1 year
Freeze loose small fruits in single layer on cookie sheet until firm; then package in airtight freezer bag or container and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator.
SAUCES Up to 3 months
Most sauces will separate after being frozen. If mixed with other ingredients, freezing quality will increase. Sauces with cornstarch and cheese lose quality fastest. Leave some head space for expansion when freezing in plastic containers.
CASSEROLES Up to 3 months
Cornstarch sauces can be frozen when mixed with other ingredients in a casserole. Slightly undercook casseroles, as they will finish cooking during reheating.
SOUPS Up to 6 months
Cool completely, skim off fat. Place in rigid plastic containers, leaving 1/2" head space for expansion.
MEATS Fresh: 1 year
Cured: 1 month
Do NOT refreeze thawed meats. If you thaw frozen meat, cook it in some form, then it can be refrozen. Cured meats should be frozen for just one month. Do NOT freeze stuffed chicken or turkey. Make sure to reform ground beef into thin patties before freezing for quick thawing.
FISH Up to 3 months
Wrap tightly in heavy duty freezer wrap or plastic bags. Thaw overnight in refrigerator before cooking.
COOKED PASTAS Up to 2 months
Cooked pastas lose quality when frozen. Undercook and freeze in a sauce for best results. Thaw overnight in refrigerator before reheating.


Tips:

  • Your freezer temperature should be below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a thermometer to check the temperature.
  • Use microwave safe plastic wrap if you plan to thaw or cook the frozen food in the microwave.
  • Freeze in smaller portions so the food cools faster and thaws faster for best quality.
  • Freeze in thin portions.
  • You can freeze ingredients for a casserole in individual packets (chicken, vegetables, cheese), then place the smaller packets into one large bag. Label well, including thawing and baking instructions, then freeze.
  • Line casserole dishes with heavy duty foil before assembling. Fill casserole, freeze, then remove foil wrapped food and seal in ziplock heavy duty freezer bag. Place in original container to thaw and bake.
  • Remember that freezing will not improve foods, it will just keep them at their original freshness and quality. Freeze only top quality foods.

Resources:

Freezable Recipes
Dinner's In The Freezer

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Busy Cooks Basics of Cooking Lesson Series

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