Last week’s tip concerning the storage and freezing of eggs met with a lot of enthusiasm and I had also seen quite a few questions pertaining to freezing. As a result, I thought it would be a good idea to do an article in installments, because it will be quite long, giving as much information as possible concerning freezing and taking the mystery out of the procedure. You will be able to use your freezer most efficiently, saving money and precious time. It would also be a good idea to subscribe to my newsletter, so that you don’t miss any of the freezing action!
To freeze or not to freeze! What can be frozen and how long can we keep it in the freezer? So many questions… If you have a large freezer, you are lucky. If you don’t have one, you should seriously think about investing in one. If used wisely, it helps you save lots of money and time!
Freezing is a quick and easy method of preserving food safely for several months. The freezer can work to your advantage in two ways:
a) Food can be bought when it is cheap. There are many offers at the supermarkets nowadays and you should take advantage of them. You will find all kinds of meat, turkey, chickens, fish as well as fruit and vegetables.
A freezer also cuts out waste. You can freeze the remainder of a meal or a beautiful cake, and the glut in the garden will provide your family with vegetables throughout the winter!
b) Food may be prepared and cooked when you have some free time and are in the mood. Advance preparation helps you during a busy week, or a forthcoming party even when you are a hard working mom.
There is no magic about a freezer. It cannot improve poor quality food. The food that you put into your freezer should be in perfect condition, freshly gathered if grown in the garden, or the best quality you can find if bought in the market. Do not bother freezing wilted veggies or over-ripe fruit. No freezer can turn the clock back.
You need to plan so as to use your freezer effectively. Depending on how often you visit the super market, you can plan your meals for a week, a fortnight or even a month. Here, some super markets distribute brochures with the coming week’s special offers. I make a list of what I want to buy, and I always buy double or even triple the quantity, which I freeze as is or prepare or cook and freeze. So, I visit the super market once a week. I am lucky, because there are four super markets within walking distance and I can compare prices, offers etc. before buying.
Every Friday, we have a large street market, where they sell fruit, vegetables, eggs etc. I buy vegetables that are in season, at a good price and freeze them. In this way, my freezer is stocked for the most part of the year. I usually spend a few hours in the afternoon, cleaning, washing, drying and chopping up vegetables, blanching if needed, packing and labeling and filling the freezer.
Some things however do not freeze well. Due to the action of the ice crystals formed during freezing, they tend to change their state when they thaw out. Here is a list of items that shouldn’t be frozen:
Green salads (lettuce, butter lettuce etc.): they discolor, go limp and mushy
Hard boiled eggs: they go rubbery
Eggs in their shells: the liquid expands and the shells break.
Whites and yolks together: the yolks harden
Cream with less than 40% butter fat: separates
Mayonnaise: separates or curdles
Boiled potatoes and spaghetti: they go mushy
Any frozen food which has been thawed out: as soon as any food begins to thaw the dormant enzyme and bacterial action starts again and the food spoils very quickly. But you can safely freeze a dish cooked using ingredients that were previously frozen.
Next week: How to pack food for the freezer