FREEZER BASICS

Don’t let the cold set in. It’s essential to use proper containers, pack and store properly, and choose freezer-friendly ingredients to maximize your deep-freeze potential.

LABEL EVERYTHING

Keep a marker and freezer labels handy. Jot down the date and contents on each container or freezer bag. Even if you can see what’s inside, date it anyway so you won’t have to guess how long something’s been frozen.

WRAP IT UP

Tightly wrap meats in plastic wrap, then in heavy-duty foil or freezer paper, using freezer tape to seal if necessary. For other foods, use durable, leakproof containers or freezer bags sealed tightly. Press to remove all air. Store raw meats on the bottom shelf to minimize the potential for contamination.

FOLLOW A PLAN

First In, First Out, or FIFO, is a simple practice that’s commonly used in restaurants, grocery stores and other food-service industries. It means that you want to use the oldest foods first to ensure timely usage so you waste less.

DO MONTHLY CHECKUPS

Take a minute or two each month to get acquainted with the freezer. Reshuffle items, throw out food that’s been frozen too long or use up forgotten treasures, such as the stew your neighbor offered a month ago.

PACK IT FLAT

Always allow hot food to cool to room temperature before freezing; once it’s cool, freeze immediately. Freeze foods in a single layer, and stack them after they’re frozen.

MAKE SINGLE SERVINGS

A pound of bacon or an entire batch of cookie dough can be too much to thaw at once. Tightly seal small amounts separately; store together in a large container.

STAY ORGANIZED

  1. DIVIDE THE FREEZER INTO ZONES, with areas for veggies, breads, meats, etc., so you always know where to look.
  2. LABEL STRATEGICALLY with masking tape and a permanent marker.
  3. Include the date the food went in so you know if it’s getting old. Use different-colored markers for different types of food—poultry, seafood, sauces—so you can find what you want at a glance.
  4. COMBINE SIMILAR ITEMS. If you have four packages of frozen berries, put them all into one larger plastic bag or an inexpensive plastic basket, then label the bag or basket. Similarly, nuts will stay fresher longer in the freezer. Store all the different bags of nuts in one large zip-top freezer bag.
  5. THAW SAFELY
  6. DEFROSTING IN THE REFRIGERATOR is safe and fuss-free, but it’s the slowest method, so plan ahead. Small items, like a pound of ground beef, defrost overnight. Most items take 1 or 2 days. For small beef and pork roasts, allow 3 to 5 hours per pound of meat; for larger cuts, allow 5 to 7 hours. A whole turkey will take 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds of weight.
  7. COLD WATER DEFROSTING requires less time than the refrigerator but more attention. Place food in a watertight plastic storage bag; place bag in cold water. Change water every 30 minutes until food is thawed.
  8. MICROWAVE DEFROSTING is suitable for last-minute thawing of small items. Unwrap the food and place it in a microwave-safe dish. Cook the food immediately after defrosting.

Want to know how to buy your freeze according to your lifestyle. Follow up for the next post

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