The 4 golden rules of freezing food for later use

FOODS for packed lunches or elaborate dinners can be kept in your freezer, ready for busy days, parties or unexpected company. Picture: Supplied
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Foods for packed lunches or elaborate dinners can be kept in your freezer, ready for busy days, parties, or unexpected company.

By planning a steady flow of casseroles, main dishes, baked goods, and desserts in and out of your freezer, you can make good use of your freezer and good use of your time.

Here are some of the golden rules of freezing food.

Freeze quickly.

The quicker the food freezes, the better its quality once thawed. Do not crowd the freezer – arrange containers in a single layer in the freezer to allow enough room for air to circulate around them so that food will freeze rapidly. Slowly frozen food forms large ice crystals that may turn the food mushy.

Don’t put hot food in the freezer.

This is one thing my mom always preached at home. She said if cooked, allow the food to cool completely as placing warm food in the freezer can cause your other foods to melt. The problem with putting hot food in the freezer is that it can increase the internal freezer temperature for a while and possibly start to defrost the already frozen food, making the food in the freezer potentially unsafe to eat. It makes more sense to cool the food first, before freezing it.

Choose appropriate packaging or containers.

In order to prevent “freezer burn” and the food in your freezer losing moisture due to the air being dry, ensure that you use bags that are designed for freezer use. Or better yet, invest in some glass containers that can go from a freezer to an oven.

Freeze smaller portions.

There are two benefits here. The first is that smaller volumes will freeze and defrost more quickly. The second is that you can just defrost and use what you need, rather than having a whole heap of food on your hands.

Keep food far from the door.

Keep foods with a higher risk of food borne illnesses – like meats – near the back of the freezer, where the temperature is more consistent. Reserve the door for items like alcohol or freezer packs.