Smart Ways to Use Your Freezer Correctly

The freezer is a powerhouse appliance that is most likely not being used to its full potential. Want some tips and ideas in utilising your freezer better?

Read on How to use Your Freezer Correctly.

1. How your freezer preserves food

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Food breaks down over time thanks to micro-organisms and bacteria (unless a preservative is added). Whilst a refrigerator slows down the process of decay by cooling the environment so bacteria reproduce slowly, the freezer slows the bacteria down even further, therefore extending the life of food for months or even up to a year, without additional chemical preservatives.

The FDA recommends keeping your refrigerator temperature at or below 40°F (4°C) while keeping your freezer at 0°F (-18°C). Anything colder than that, and you’ll have freezer frost to deal with (like below).

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2. Utilise space in the freezer

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The more you stuff into your freezer, the less energy it requires to keep things cold – all the more reason to treat it like a game of Tetris and utilise that freezer space well. If you do find extra small spaces in there, put ice cubes in plastic bags to fill those spaces (and they also come in handy if there is ever a power outage, keeping food cool until the energy is back on).

3. How to store food in the freezer

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Most food produce requires some preparation before they go into the freezer. For example, always wash and cut up fruit beforehand and blanching vegetables before you put them in storage bags will help them retain their integrity and flavour. If you’re unsure what blanching is, it means to plunge a vegetable into hot boiling water for a short amount of time before transferring it to be frozen).

As light, air and water all contribute to decay, ensure the storage container is air-tight and water-tight. Let cakes and breads also cool completely before freezing them, as well as roasted meat and fish. Layering and wrapping items will also ensure longevity in the freezer.

Cutting produce up into smaller portions and labelling on them the date they get frozen will help you enormously the next time you’re choosing to defrost something for dinner.

4. Some dairy items can actually be frozen!

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High-fat content produce like butter will freeze seamlessly. Eggs (raw or cooked) can also be frozen, however, if you’re freezing them raw, don’t leave them in the shell as they will just crack. We recommend using ice cube trays to hold each egg; this makes it easy to separate egg whites and yolks for future dishes. Be sure to label how many egg whites and yolks are in each container.

5. Be mindful of freezing liquid

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Remember that liquids expand in the freezer. If you want to freeze milk, pour it into a cup or put it into a very large container. Another tip if cooking with once-frozen dairy products is to shake the item well and then apply heat gradually to discourage separation.

6. Surprise! These all can be frozen too!

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There are plenty of other food items that can be frozen too, but it’s not really common knowledge. For example you can also freeze:

  • Fresh herbs – dice them fine, then pack them into ice cube trays with a little water or oil on top.
  • Beef, chicken and vegetable stock – portion them out into ice cube trays so to use them individually in cooking when required.
  • Minced garlic and minced green onions.
  • Pie, pizza, bread dough and most batters.
  • Cooked rice and pasta.
  • Soups, sauces and marinades.
  • Baking items such as flours, nuts and chocolate chips.

7. Save your food scraps and use them for stock

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Do you regularly throw out onion and carrot peelings, celery stalks, poultry bones or herbs after cooking? French chef extraordinaire, Jacques Pepin, recommends keeping an empty milk carton or plastic bag in the freezer to store your food scraps each time. Once you have a pound or two of this matter, thaw it out and make your own homemade stock.

This tip is invaluable, saving you money and creating much less waste. Homemade stock is easy to make and tastes so much better than anything else on the market. Try it!

8. Don’t freeze these foods

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Most of the food you freeze will last for at least a year, and this includes fresh meat and poultry. However, cooked meat will not last as long. Most dairy products are delicate and should be used within two or three months.

We have included the general guidelines that FDA recommends for refrigeration and freezing below. Click to enlarge to see the below full size document.

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9. Lastly, just remember…

Consume most of you freeze within six months for better taste and try to avoid letting a thick layer of ice build-up over your frozen foods. If a food item has too much ice encrusted over it, then it may have ‘freezer burn’ and it definitely needs to be thrown out then.

Using your grocery store as a guide will also help aid you in knowing what foods can be frozen. If your local grocery store has certain items in the freezer aisle, that means you can freeze them too. This goes for most fruits, baked goods, meats, poultry, fish and vegetables.

 

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Author: Smart Homes for Living

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