Have you ever wondered how chefs manage to freeze produce so well?
It is commonly known that even chefs end up using freezer foods, but that is because they are freezing their own food items that they have too much of, despite most preferring to use fresh ingredients most of the time. This is because, while we all like fresh foods best, there is no need to waste food for no reason, and sometimes getting them frozen is the next best thing.
This is exactly why we have gathered the best foods for freezing and how specialists around the world suggest you do it, so you can also safely do it at home. What’s more, we also threw in some general advice about how you can thaw them safely and when you can get back to cooking with those items, as you also need to know how to do that after you have had these ingredients frozen for a while!
Let us know if you are in the habit of freezing excess food or if you only prefer fresh ingredients!
Freeze Baked Goods
If you made too many cake or brownies, or if you have too much bread, you can simply freeze the baked goods with no consequences. Just make sure they are fully cooled down and double-wrap them. They will be fine to keep frozen for up to three months, and all you have to do is take them out and let them thaw at room temperature (which you shouldn’t do with other perishable foods; more on that later).
This also includes the likes of missing cupcakes, cookies, and even quick breads if you have gotten in the habit of making those. Furthermore, doughs can be frozen without issue; simply form them into rolls or the individual shapes you want to bake later. You can even just add them to the ice directly from the freezer!
Yes, it sounds like it should not be possible, but you can actually freeze eggs. The only problem here is that you can’t just throw them raw and whole in the fridge and call it a day. During the freezing process, there will be a process called expansion that will happen, and this will cause the eggshell to burst. Likewise, hard-boiled eggs can not be frozen well, as they will turn rubbery.
If you truly want to freeze eggs, you must either crack them into a bowl and lightly beat them (with salt or sugar, depending on the end product you want to use them for later) or place them in an airtight container to be frozen that way. Just plan ahead for how many eggs you may need and make sure the exact quantity is frozen.
If you’re trying to save eggs so they do not go bad, you can also separate the yolks and whites and then freeze them separately. You will just have a harder time thawing them.
Seafood and Meat
Everyone knows that you can freeze meat and seafood without incident. We’ve all bought frozen meat from the grocery store, only to cook it a few weeks later. The only thing with freezing meat and seafood in their fresh state is that you have to do that as fast as possible. That means that you shouldn’t wait for three days or more with the product in the fridge before you decide to freeze it. The fresher it is when it is frozen, the fresher it will keep.
The best way to do it is to remove it from whatever storage container you bought it in, divide it into portions depending on what you will be using them for later, and double wrap them (first in a layer of Saran Wrap and then in a plastic bag, or in two generous layers of Saran Wrap) so you minimize the chance of freezer burn.
Store it in the back of the freezer, as far away from the door as possible, and then when you’re ready to use it, remember to move the packet to thaw out a day beforehand.
The best thing about casserole-like dishes is that you can actually always freeze them unbaked (yes, that includes lasagna), directly in the dish you plan to make them in, or even in some disposable ones if you have them on hand. Just wrap them in tin foil tightly and put them in the freezer.
The only thing about these types is that when you want to bake them, you either have to leave them to thaw completely overnight or put them directly in the cold oven from the freezer. As the oven heats up, so will the casserole, and then you will be able to bake it. You will need to cook it for longer because it will need to defrost, and you can remove the foil in the last 20 minutes to ensure that golden brown crisp top!
You can also just par-bake them, and they can be frozen like that as well, but you will need less time to cook them than if you had bought a ready-made one from the store. However, we suggest you stick to freezing them raw, as it would be easier to assemble and stick in the freezer than going through the whole process of par-baking a lasagna or casserole and then waiting for it to cool before being able to do anything else.
It is great, however, if you ever have to stop the oven due to some unforeseeable circumstances. The food will be able to be frozen and cooked at a later date with no problem.
Freeze Stews and Soups
These are great to make ahead of time and freeze for when you don’t want to make a whole batch of soup or stew, or if you accidentally made too much and don’t want to waste it. Not to mention, you can always use scraps to make broth, and this is a great way to preserve it.
Before freezing a soup, broth, casserole, or even chili, allow it to cool completely in the refrigerator. Generally, it’s best to wait until the next day, when you can also scrape off any layer of fat that has gathered on top. Add to freezer bags or resealable containers and place in the fridge for a quick meal!
If we look at things like whole milk or even skimmed milk, you can freeze it, but you will not be able to drink it anymore. It will eventually separate, and when thawed, it will be extremely different than when it was frozen, but you can still use it for baking or cooking sauces with it. Just know that it will be weird if you try to drink it.
You can also freeze things like heavy cream, but half and half will not be a success due to the low-fat content. You can also freeze whipped cream in the form of dollops, but you’re better off not relying on them.
Cheese, which should be cut into smaller portions and double wrapped before freezing, is one of the dairy products that can be easily frozen, along with sticks of butter! This is a great way of saving those sticks that are close to expiring, and then you can use them in bakes or when you have to make a bigger batch of something that needs a lot of butter but remember to switch them to the fridge to thaw before using.
Avoid cottage cheese, sour cream, or whipped butter, as they will either not get frozen at all, or they will turn grainy, and you won’t be able to use them.
Here we are talking about everything that is fresh that you may want to freeze. From fruits to veggies, even leafy greens, some of them are easy to handle if you want to put them in the freezer, as long as you do it properly, but others are truly not meant to be put in the freezer, even if it’s for a few days.
When we’re talking fresh veggies, you do not want to put them in the fridge as is because they will definitely freeze badly, and you will end up having to throw them away. The best way to make frozen veggies is to blanch them first, whether you are blanching broccoli or cauliflower florets, peeling and slicing any other big vegetable like carrots, peppers, etc., or destemming green beans, etc. You should be boiling them in the form in which you want to eat them later.
You only have to add them to the water once it is boiling and never for more than 2 minutes, as you don’t want them thoroughly cooked. Then, immediately place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process, and either leave out to drain or dry with paper towels. Freeze in a flat pan and then transfer to zip-lock bags.
For fruits, you do the same steps except for the blanching. Peel and cube, if needed, then put into the freezer in a flat pan until solid, then transfer to plastic bags. Fruit will keep for up to three months with no problem. The only exception is bananas, which can be frozen whole. The peel may look unappealing and brown, but the fruit inside will be perfect and fresh!
Vegetables like tomatoes, salads, and other lettuces, like leafy greens, do not freeze well due to the high water content, so you should avoid freezing any of them.
Let’s talk: Thawing!
Even if you are now a master at everything that involves having to freeze food, there is still the issue of what you do when you have to thaw them and use them. If you have to thaw them, the best way to achieve that is to take into consideration what you want to use that is frozen and then go from there.
There are a few types of products that you can easily use frozen, with no need to leave them outside to thaw or defrost. We’re talking about frozen fruits that can be thrown into a blender for a smoothie or easily added to baking mixtures; they don’t need to be defrosted ahead of time.
Sauces also come into this category, with frozen tomato sauce just needing to be added to your dish as it will thaw in the soup, chili, sauce, or stew. The same goes for frozen vegetables! You could cook frozen meat, such as chicken breast, but this is generally frowned upon because it will ruin the texture and change the times of your cooking process.
For foods that are high in protein (like poultry, fish, and meat), the best way in which you can thaw them is to move them from the freezer to the fridge overnight so they have time to thaw easily. This is the safest way as well, as if you try to defrost them at room temperature or put them in direct sunlight or warm water to speed up the process, it will most probably end with a case of food poisoning in your family!
And if you’re wondering how you can best store the fresh produce in your fridge, here are our best tips for you!