Food Freezing Guide: Everything you need to know to preserve vegetables, meat, dairy
Food Freezing Guide: Everything you need to know! The freezer is our anti-waste ally ! It’s also an eco- friendly way to continue enjoying summer fruits and vegetables in winter. But be careful, we do not freeze everything and anything, if we want to preserve the texture and flavor of food. Also, it is important to be rigorous when freezing ingredients so as not to risk poisoning.
- Freezing fruits and vegetables
2. Blanching or not blanching before freezing
3. Freezing meat, fish
4. Freezing eggs
5. Freezing dairy products
6. Freezing ready meals
7. Freezing freezing bread and pastries
8. And for defrosting food?
9. What to remember
Caution: A thawed product must never be frozen again. The risk of food poisoning is high.
Practical advice before starting:
- Chill food before freezing: to prevent food from spoiling too much, it is essential that it freezes quickly. It is therefore important to cool them as much as possible before putting them in the freezer, by putting them on your window sill in winter, or by plunging the freezer bags (hermetically sealed) into a bowl of ice water.
- Properly wrap the food: when the packaging used is not airtight , the air circulates and dries the food inside : this is called freezer burn . The most exposed parts can take on a gray or black color , unappetizing but not dangerous to health. The packaging must be as tight as possible (freezer bags are particularly suitable) and the air must be well expelled. You can also use aluminum foil or containers, glass or plastic, provided for this purpose ).
- Indicate the contents and the date of freezing: if frozen foods will keep for a long time, they will not keep indefinitely. Remember to write, using an indelible pen, the date of freezing and the contents on the packaging.
- How to properly freeze fruits and vegetables
To properly freeze fruits and vegetables, you need a compartment at -18°C. Then choose ripe products that have not been damaged. Freeze them soon after buying them.
Start by washing them, drying them and then cutting them for packaging. To prevent the fruits from piling up between them, the good method is to freeze them in two batches. Start by placing them on a tray in the freezer . After 12 hours, you can put them in a freezer bag. Remove excess air to prevent frost from forming which spoils food. Immediately return them to the freezer. You can keep them like this for up to 12 months.
Tip: If you have several kilos of vegetables to freeze, we advise you to divide them into several bags. This will allow you to defrost only the desired amount and avoid food waste.
Which fruits and vegetables do not freeze?
Be aware, however, that not all fruits and vegetables can be frozen ! Those that are rich in water : such as cucumber , melon or tomato will lose their firmness and their nutritional interest. Potatoes, which contain a lot of starch, also do not support freezing. Also avoid freezing pears or strawberries , they all become soft once thawed.
For these products, it is therefore preferable to favor freezing in a sauce or in a prepared dish. Cook them for example in puree . You can proportion it by freezing it in ice cube trays . Once set, unmold and slip into a freezer bag.
- Should fruit and vegetables be blanched before freezing?
Most vegetables must be blanched before freezing, ie pre-cooked in boiling water. This method prevents their organoleptic qualities (flavor, texture and color) from altering.
The duration of blanching varies from one vegetable to another (between 3 to 10 minutes). Then plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Dry them before packing them.
Note: Some vegetables such as peppers or onions do not need to be blanched.
As for fruits, those that darken quickly (such as apples , apricots, peaches, Mirabelle plums or plums) should be sprinkled with lemon juice after being cut.
The trick: if you want to keep overripe fruit, prepare it in compote before freezing it !
- How do you freeze meat and fish properly?
Most meats can be stored in the freezer. However, they do not have the same shelf life!
Lamb, beef and veal can be kept for 6 to 8 months, unlike pork, which should not be frozen for more than two quarters. Whole poultry can be stored for up to a year.
For minced meat , which is particularly sensitive to bacteria, do not store it for more than 3 months.
If it is possible to freeze raw or cooked meat, it may dry out if it has already undergone cooking. This is not the case for meats in sauce: their flesh will be “protected by the liquid”. It will also keep for a shorter time: no more than 3 months.
Fish, on the other hand, has a flesh that is more fragile and richer in water . It therefore does not keep for as long. Lean fish (bass, cod, hake) keep better than fatty fish (sardines, salmon, tuna).
How to properly freeze meat and fish
The ideal is to freeze your meat or fish right after you buy it. You can remove the fat and bones before (to save space) wrap it in cling film or in a freezer bag. Don’t forget to remove the air well.
If your meat or fish is vacuum-packed, leave it in the original packaging. Store it flat in your freezer.
Be careful, freezing is to be avoided for charcuterie and most shellfish .
- Can you freeze eggs?
Freezing is not recommended for cooked eggs. Their texture deteriorates and becomes rubbery. However, it is possible to freeze them when raw. But not in their shell, it might explode from the cold!
You will have the choice between separating the whites from the yolks, or freezing them whole.
In the first case, pour the whites and yolks into two freezer bags (or into an ice cube tray to make individual portions). To prevent the yolks from becoming gelatinous , add a pinch of salt to them if you want to reuse them for a savory recipe, or a pinch of sugar to make a dessert.
Do not forget to mention the number of eggs and indicate the date of freezing on the bag. The yolks will keep for up to 4 months. The whites can be kept for up to 8 months.
The extra tip: If you want to freeze whole eggs, it is best to scramble them slightly with a fork before pouring them into the freezer bag.
How about defrosting the eggs? Just put them in the fridge. Use them, the same day, as fresh eggs to prepare cakes, an omelet or meringues (after defrosting, the whites can still be whipped).
- Can dairy products be frozen?
The DLC of your yoghurts is exceeded? To avoid waste, it is better to use them to prepare a yogurt cake rather than freezing them. Their texture would become lumpy and runny. The same is true for dessert creams.
It is also not recommended to freeze milk unless it has been pasteurized or sterilized. In this case, you can put the bottle in the freezer. Be careful, the latter must not be completely filled, it could indeed explode.
The cream does not freeze either. It risks being out of phase when defrosting, with water on one side and fat on the other. However, it is possible to freeze dishes made with cream. It is then “protected” by the other ingredients.
Butter freezes perfectly. Leave it in its original packaging and wrap it with aluminum foil. You can keep it for up to 6 months.
Can you freeze cheese?
As for cheese, hard cheeses such as Parmesan, Comté or Gruyère are the kings of freezing because their moisture content is low.
It is also possible to freeze Brie, Camembert or Saint-Nectaire. However, this method of preservation can alter the texture of these soft cheeses and make them slightly floury.
On the other hand, it is not recommended to freeze blue- veined cheeses such as Roquefort or blue cheese, fresh cheeses and fromage blanc.
- How to properly freeze a cooked meal?
Do not hesitate to prepare some recipes in larger quantities so that you can freeze some of them. It saves time and energy!
Whether savory or sweet, pies are among the preparations that tolerate freezing well. You can freeze them whole (if you have enough space in your freezer) or in portions. Wrap them tightly in aluminum foil, then wrap the whole thing in cling film or put it in a freezer bag. You can keep them for a month.
The good reflex: Know that it is also possible to freeze a raw pie dough or a homemade pizza dough to always have one on hand.
Tomato sauce keeps better in the freezer than raw tomatoes. Much of the water it contains has indeed evaporated.
This is also the case for soups and purees.
In summer, you can also embark on the preparation of a delicious ratatouille in order to freeze it for the winter. Plus, it’s even better when reheated!
On the pastry side, know that cookie dough , meringue and sweet cakes are very resistant to freezing.
- How to properly freeze bread and pastries?
To always have fresh bread on hand, there’s nothing like freezing! Thanks to it, you can keep baguettes homemade or bought in bakeries for 6 months. Make sure the bread is cool and at room temperature before putting it in the freezer. Then slip your baguettes to be frozen in a freezer bag or, failing that, in a plastic bag. Close it, taking care to empty the air.
Don’t hesitate to freeze your chocolate breads, croissants and brioches! It is not uncommon to buy more than necessary. Slip these pastries one by one into a freezer bag before placing them in the freezer. Eat them within 3 months.
- How to defrost food
Several defrosting methods are possible. The simplest are to leave your food in the refrigerator for several hours or to use the defrost function of the microwave oven if you are in a hurry.
The trick: to save time if you don’t have a microwave, immerse the bag to be thawed in a bowl of cold water. A method that speeds up defrosting without risk.
In any case, avoid thawing them at room temperature.
Most vegetables do not need to be thawed before cooking. Meat in sauce can be heated directly in a saucepan without prior defrosting.
How to defrost bread and pastries
The easiest way to thaw bread is to wrap it in a clean kitchen towel and let it come to room temperature.
If you’re short on time, slide it on the rack of your oven preheated to 200°C for 5 minutes. Then let it rest for another 5 minutes with the door closed and the oven off.
As for pastries, wrap them in foil and bake them at 200°C for 15 minutes .
- Let’s recap: the rules to follow for optimal freezing
- A thawed product should never be frozen again. The risk of food poisoning is high.
- What you cannot freeze: dairy products (yogurt, cottage cheese, cream, milk), shellfish, cold cuts, cucumber, melon or tomato, raw potato.
- Freeze food as soon as possible after purchase.
- We never mix products of different nature.
- If freezing slows the proliferation of bacteria, it does not completely stop it. It is therefore very important to respect the retention periods.