Whether you’re cooking for a friend or for yourself, there’ll be times when you want to put some away for another day. Cooking ahead and freezing food saves time and energy but it’s important to do it right to ensure that it tastes just as good the second time around.
- The fresher the food is when it goes into the freezer, the better it will be when it comes out. This might sound obvious but it is important to remember that if the food is starting to turn in the fridge freezing it will not resurrect freshness or taste.
- Take care when choosing containers. Food that goes into the freezer needs to be completely sealed to ensure freshness and food safety. The table below is a guide to what works where.
Leave space in containers because food expands when it freezes. Bags and plastic containers will burst and seals will break if they are overfilled.
Always ensure that food is wrapped well or sealed in an airtight container to avoid freezer burn. While freezer burn will not usually harm the food, it will discolour it and spoil the taste.
Cool food with the lid off before freezing. Placing hot food in the freezer can raise the overall temperature of the freezer. This can cause other frozen items to defrost and refreeze thereby jeopardising food safety. Keep the lid off the food as it cools to avoid water droplets forming . These droplets become ice particles which can lead to freezer burn.
Label, date and rotate. In order to avoid confusion and wastage, always note down what is in the container and when it was cooked; a use by date is even better. And if you tend to freeze meals regularly, make a habit of putting the new food at the back and bringing other meals to the front, that way food will not be forgotten and all your hard work in preparing ahead will not be wasted
Don’t refreeze cooked food that has been previously frozen and defrosted.
Thaw foods overnight in the fridge, or use the defrost setting on your microwave. Defrosting food at room temperature can result in the growth of bacteria which can lead to food poisoning.
Stock your freezer or feed friends and family with meals that freeze well. Try our meal suggestions.
Avoid freezing certain foods. Some things do not freeze well and will break down in taste and texture if frozen. These foods include dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cream, and vegetables with a high water content.