How to Freeze Foods


Freezing should be simple: If you want to preserve something, you wrap it up and throw it in the freezer, right? Not always. Turns out that if you don't package it right you could ruin your food. To keep your foods preserved and freezer-burn free, check out these tips for freezing your foods.

freezer
Chepe Nicoli
To ensure the best quality when freezing food, follow a few simple guidelines.

Find out how to prepare and freeze various types of foods on the following pages:

How to Freeze Foods
There are foods you can freeze and quite a number that you cannot. Find out which foods should never be frozen and what happens when you try.

Ice Cream in the Freezer
Learn about different kinds of frozen treats like ice cream, sherbets and so on that can remain quite happily in your freezer without losing their flavor.

What Can You Do with a Bag of Frozen Fruit?
There are plenty of ways to use that bag of frozen fruit you have lurking in your freezer. Desert is just the start!

Freezer Tips
If you thought that fun shapes was the beginning and the end of creativity with ice cubes, think again! Learn how to spice up this perennial freezer favorite as well as how to freeze a casserole without the casserole dish.

Should You Defrost Berries Before Baking Them?
You are baking blueberry muffins and forgot the fresh blueberries. All you have is a bag of frozen blueberries in the back of your freezer. Should you thaw them? We have the answer!

Fruit may be one item you can easily freeze, but there are plenty of others that should never see the inside of your freezer. Learn which foods should never be frozen on the next page.

To learn more about freezing foods, check out the following related links:

What Not to Freeze

Q. What foods are not recommended for freezing?

A. According to the University of Illinois Extension Service, some foods deteriorate almost to the point of being unusable after being frozen and thawed.

They may be perfectly safe to eat or use, but freezing food can change the texture or physical structure of some foods so that they may not be able to be used in the same way as fresh. Some may still be used for cooking, and some may not be usable at all upon thawing.

freezing food
Kim Jensen
When freezing food, be sure that you label all foods to ensure the highest quality.

The University of Illinois Extension Service has developed a list of foods that probably should not be stored in the freezer as well as the reasons why:

Food Result of Freezing
Cheese in blocks Crumbles
Cooked egg white Crumbles
Cottage cheese Cream pies Custards Watery
Eggs Gravy Green onions, tomatoes Lettuce Watery, limp
Mayonnaise, milk, milk sauces, sour cream, yogurt
Some separation
Potatoes, raw Radishes

Ice Cream in the Freezer

Q. Ice cream, sorbet, ices, sherbet -- they're all delicious, but what makes them different? And can I store them all in the freezer?

A. As long as they are in closed containers, all of the above can be frozen for a few weeks -- or even a few months -- without losing their flavor.

freezing ice cream
Ehsan Namavar
Ice cream can be frozen for several weeks -- or even months if it has been packaged properly.

While these are all similar in that they can be frozen for extended periods of time, each is different in its own right. Here's a quick introduction.

Ice Cream: At its simplest, ice cream includes cream, milk, sweeteners and flavorings. Sometimes pasteurized eggs and small pieces of food, such as nuts, fruit or chocolate bits, are added.

Sorbet: This frozen mixture of fruit juice, fruit purée, water and sugar is more similar to an ice than to sherbet.

Ice: The dessert ice is a frozen mixture of sugar and liquid, such as fruit juice, wine or coffee. It has a slightly granular texture that is created by stirring the mixture during the freezing process.

Sherbet: Sherbet refers to a frozen low-fat dessert made from fruit, fruit juices, sugar, stabilizers and flavorings. In the United States, sherbet often contains milk solids.

Desserts are not the only things that can be frozen. Fruit is another item that you can freeze. Learn more about it in the next section.

To learn more about freezing foods, check out the following related links:

What Can You Do with a Bag of Frozen Fruit?

Q. I have a bag of frozen berries and I'm not sure what to do with them. Any ideas?

frozen dessert
Photodisc
Understanding basic freezing facts will allow your food to last longer and taste better.

A. Unsweetened frozen fruit makes a great base for all kinds of dishes: desserts, of course, but also salads and salad dressings, dips, smoothies, and even sauces for grilled meats and fish.

From smoothies to desserts, frozen berries can be the start of something great. Here are some fast fruit fixes:

Fruit Dressing: Combine thawed fruit, sugar, oil, and a bit of vinegar. Serve over greens with toasted pecans, goat cheese, and chopped red onion.

Fruit Dip: Fruit dip is one of the easiest ways to dress up your frozen fruit. Just purée the fruit and add cream cheese, whipped topping, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, to taste. A delicious and healthier alternative to heavy-cream based dessert dips.

Dessert Fruit Sauce: Strain thawed berries through a fine mesh sieve with a rubber spatula. Boil juice until it reduces slightly. Remove from heat. Add sugar and almond extract, to taste. Serve hot or cold over cake, ice cream, or fresh fruit.

Slushies for Grown-Ups: Purée frozen fruit, sugar, and a small amount of vodka, rum, wine, or orange liqueur. Freeze overnight in a resealable plastic storage bag. The alcohol will prevent the fruit mixture from freezing completely. Spoon the slushy mixture into serving glasses.

Retro Congeal Salad: Mix fruit-flavored gelatin with hot water, per package directions. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat in cream cheese and whipped topping. Fold in frozen berries or other fruit. Pour into a serving dish or casserole, and chill until firm.

Popsicle Ice: Add frozen berries or other fruit to white grape juice, and freeze in popsicle molds. Or place berries in ice cube trays. Cover with water or juice, and freeze. Use instead of ice cubes.

You would be surprised to know how you can spice up your old, reliable ice cubes, and would you believe that you can freeze a cassarole without the dish? We tell you how in the next section.

To learn more about freezing foods, check out the following related links:

Freezer Tips

Q. What can I do to make ice cubes more interesting?

A. In addition to interesting shapes for the ice itself, you can add a festive touch to cold beverages by freezing strawberries, cranberries and/or mint sprigs in the ice cubes.

frozen fruit
Tomislav Forgo
There are lots of things that you can make with a bag of frozen berries, like these festive ice cubes.

Q. How do I freeze a casserole without the casserole dish?

A. Freezing an extra casserole doesn't have to mean that all your dishes are in the deep freeze. To freeze a casserole without its dish, line the casserole dish with plastic wrap, folding wrap over the edges, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the combined ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap; freeze.

When frozen, lift the food from the dish using the edges of the plastic wrap. Wrap in freezer paper or place in a resealable plastic freezer food storage bag. Return to the freezer.

When you're ready to cook the food, remove it from the freezer and discard the plastic wrap. Place it in its original dish, cover and thaw in the refrigerator. Bake according to the recipe directions.

You know that you can use fruit as an adornment for ice, but it has other uses as well. Find out how to bake with frozen blueberries in the next section.

To learn more about freezing foods, check out the following related links:

Should You Defrost Blue Berries Before Baking Them?

Q. Do I need to thaw frozen blueberries before I add them to cake batter?

A. Frozen blueberries do not need to be thawed before you add them to your cake batter. They can be left in their frozen state for most baking recipes unless the recipe calls for them to be defrosted (or if the recipe calls for fresh blueberries, which can make a difference).

blueberries
Stockbyte
If you add frozen berries to your dish too early, they may bleed into the batter or food. Be sure to add them at the very last minute.

The only real issue with defrosted blueberries is that they tend to "bleed," creating blue spots and streaks. To try to prevent this "bleeding," you should stir frozen blueberries gently into your batter at the last minute.

To learn more about freezing foods, check out the following related links: