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What is the best way to prepare vegetables, meat and fruit for freezing? How long do things keep in the freezer? Find out all you need to know about freezing here.
Whether there is too much leftover food, or it is the height of fruit and vegetable season, freezing is a great option for preserving your perishable foods. Meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and even bread tolerate cold temperatures very well – there are of course a few exceptions to this however. Sometimes a bit of preparation is required in order for you to enjoy foods that still contain their vitamins and nutrients months later.
There are various containers suitable for freezing. Plastic jars or boxes with a lid are the most popular and can be stacked well in the freezer. Freezer bags are also useful and you can make them as small as possible by letting any excess air out of them. Glass jars are also a good choice. When storing soups in jars, there should be sufficient space for the liquid to expand.
Below are some rough guidelines on the storage period of different frozen goods that are packaged and stored correctly:
· Vegetables: 3 to 12 months
· Fish: 1 to 4 months
· Meat: 6 to 12 months
· Minced meat: 4 months
· Fruit: 9 to 12 months
· Cheese: 2 to 4 months
· Baked goods: 1 to 3 months
· Cooked leftovers: 1 to 3 months
· Raw egg without the shell: 10 months
All baked goods – whether bread, bread rolls, cakes or tart bases – are easy to freeze. When it comes to raw doughs or pastries, these can be made in large quantities and then frozen in particular portions. Before freezing bread, it is always a good idea to cut it into slices so you can simply take out the desired amount to defrost. Baked goods require roughly 10 minutes to defrost and then just 5 minutes in the oven, depending on thickness.
Generally speaking, vegetables should be blanched before freezing – simply place the washed and chopped vegetables in boiling water and then directly after, ice water. When cooking vegetables from frozen, defrosting them is not necessary, just place them directly in the pot or pan and begin cooking.
Before freezing fruit, take care to remove the seeds and bruised parts, and sort out any overripe fruit. Some fruits such as apple, strawberries or pears, are likely to become quite mushy after freezing. It is therefore advisable to make a puree out of these fruits before freezing. Many tropical fruits such as bananas, do not freeze well at all.
Ideally, meat and fish would be vacuum packed before freezing. Oxygen can cause freezer burn which may affect the consistency and taste of food. At the fresh fish counter, it is sometimes possible to ask for fresh meat to be vacuum packed directly upon purchase. Meat is best stored in a Tupperware or lunchbox which emits as much air as possible.
The leaner the meat or fish the longer it will keep for. When frozen, fat can turn rancid quite fast. Whole fish should be fully gutted before freezing. Meat and fish should not be frozen in very thick pieces as it will then take a long time until it is completely frozen through.
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