Sunday, October 24, 2010

Freezing Food

Howdy everyone!  I want to say first and foremost that I am NOT an expert about freezing food.  I have had a few questions from friends and while teaching the coupon class and said I'd post a couple of things about it.  I would encourage you to spend some time searching for information if you are interested in freezing your food.  In my research I have found that almost anything can be frozen.  I have a big deep freezer so fortunately I have a lot of room to be able to store things this way.  I also have a Food Saver which helps me feel more confident in freezing items for a long time without worrying about freezer burn.  That said, here are a few of my thoughts on specific items.

Vegetables.  You will need to learn how to blanch the item before freezing in order to stop the breakdown of the nutrients.  To be honest I have not frozen very many vegetables, choosing instead to just buy them frozen when on sale.  I have frozen some things like green onions and cilantro (when it is on sale for about .30 a bunch).  However, when thawed they are soft and not crisp.  So, when I am using green onions in a recipe where it is okay they are soft I will take out a package that I chopped and froze months ago and use them.  Fried Rice is a good example of this.  Or I will make chicken taquitos and use my frozen cilantro.  If I needed them to be crisp because they were going to be used as a topping I would make sure to buy fresh ones that week.

Meat.  I freeze all of my meat, even lunch meat and have not found any problems at all with freezing it as long as you remember to thaw it before you need it!

Cheese.  I freeze most of my cheese.  Right now I have all of the cheese that I've done posts on in my freezer, including the Kraft Singles.  The only problem I have ever had freezing cheese is with a brick of cheese.  After it thaws it is a bit crumbly so if you need a nice sliced piece of cheese you might have a problem.  Most of the time I'm using cheese in recipes it needs to be shredded so it hasn't been much of an issue for me.  Cream cheese can be frozen!  After it thaws it appears to be a little grainy.  All you need to do is whip it up in a food processor and it's nice and smooth again.  However, I would suggest that unless you need it to be smooth, say for a dip, I wouldn't waste the time.  If it is being baked in a recipe it should turn out just fine.

Dairy.  Dairy products can be a little tricky.  I usually buy a low fat sour cream and have thawed it before to use in recipes but it is much runnier than before I froze it.  In fact, the last time I used frozen sour cream I decided that from now on I wasn't going to freeze it (good thing I was using it in the Taco Soup recipe last week)!  Milk can be frozen as well but it does take a LONG time to thaw.  Some people think it tastes different than before it was frozen but I've never noticed that.  I don't usually stock up on milk because the prices seem to be fairly consistent.  Butter and margarine can easily be frozen and used again with no noticeable difference.  Even the tubs of "buttery spread" type products can be frozen.  A couple months ago I was able to stockpile on quite of few of those for free and they're all just sitting in my freezer waiting until it's their turn to be used!

Eggs.  Yes, eggs can be frozen!  However, the article I read talked about breaking the eggs, slightly mixing them together, pouring them in ice cube trays, freezing them, and then wrapping them.  This was WAY too much work for me.  I wondered if they could be frozen in their shell so gave it a try.  The bad news is that the shell cracked.  The good news was that the egg froze quickly so nothing leaked.  When it came time to use them I put them in a bowl the day before I needed to bake with them and they thawed wonderfully and I couldn't tell they had been frozen at all!  I have a couple of ideas I'd like to play with to see if it's possible to freeze them in the shell (maybe poking a hole in the top of the egg would help) and I'll let you all know what I find out.  FYI, if you want to attempt the ice cube approach 2 cubes = 1 egg.  Also, the reason I looked into this is because Easter time is a great time of year to buy eggs.  Sometimes they go on sale as low as .25 per carton and next year I plan on buying all my eggs for the entire year at that time!

Well, hopefully that answered some questions and I hope you discover a few items you can freeze that you hadn't thought of before.
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