Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Thursday Thirteen--Freezing Meals

After talking about fixing and freezing individual meals for the elderly, I decided to give you thirteen guidelines to think about when putting together freezer meals.

  1. Don't thaw frozen raw meat and then re-freeze it without cooking it thoroughly first.   This is why when I get purchase my meat in bulk, I take the time to cook or divide it into meal size portions. 

  2. Hard boiled eggs tend to get rubbery after thawing.  If you are going to freeze them, chop them into very fine pieces and they should be okay.

  3. Cornstarch-thickened sauces, cheese sauces, and gravies made with milk tend to separate when being reheated after freezing if they are frozen by themselves. However, if they are mixed with other ingredients they are fine. 

  4. Don't freeze raw vegetables(except for diced onions, green pepper and celery) unless they have been blanched. Blanching is a short period of cooking that seals in color, texture, vitamins and flavor.   I like to just buy already frozen vegetables to stir into my recipes after the recipe has cooled and is ready for the freezer. 

  5. Cured meats like ham or bacon should be eaten within a month of freezing.  After that they seem to lose color and flavor. 

  6. Be aware that some seasonings change in intensity and flavor when frozen. Salt, green pepper and celery seem to lose some of their flavoring while black pepper, cloves, bay leaves, onions, sage, and artificial vanilla become more intense in flavor. 

  7. Deep fried foods will not stay crispy after thawing and re-heating. 

  8. Egg and milk substitutes freeze well in most recipes. 

  9. Fully cooked pasta, dry beans and rice tend to turn mushy when frozen in liquids or sauces. Undercook them by half the time if you plan on stirring them into a sauce or broth before freezing.

  10. Salad vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and radishes don't freeze well.  Actually they freeze well it is the thawing of them that does them more harm!

  11. When freezing a new recipe, only freeze one meal to see if it freezes well. You will not be saving yourself time or money if you freeze a meal that doesn't thaw and reheat well enough to be liked by your family. 

  12. Don't put hot foods into freezer bags....completely cool the foods first!

  13. In the event of a power outage, don't throw the food out because the food may still be safe to use. Without power, a full upright or chest freezer will keep everything frozen for 2 days. A half full freezer will keep food frozen for 1 day. However, anything over 6 hours it would be best to put blocks or bags of ice in the freezer until power is restored. 

For more lists, head over to Happy to be at Home.


Joy @ Five J's said...

Absolutely FABULOUS post. Just what I needed!

Sherry said...

Thank you for the info on freezing items! These are great tips!