How To Freeze Ingredients Better
This is the key to making your food last longer.
Nobody likes to encounter food that has gone bad. That's why it's a great idea to shop for fresh food that you can use within the day or at the latest, the next day or the next. The freshest ingredients, after all, are the best when it comes to flavor.
If you realize you have more fresh food than you can use within a few days, don't worry. You can save those extra heads of cabbage, the extra half kilogram of chicken, or even those strawberries you bought at a bargain price! The solution? Freezing is the key to making your fresh ingredients last longer.
However, there are a few fresh produce that does not do so well when kept frozen. Here's a short list of what food not to freeze:
- • lettuce and other salad greens
- • cucumbers
- • melons (unless you will be making these into shakes)
- • all-purpose cream, sour cream, and other creams that won't be used frozen
- • potatoes
- • fresh milk which may separate or curdle but will be fine for cooking
- • fresh eggs, unless beaten first or separated into containers that contain just yolks or whites
- • soft cheeses (cream cheese, spreadable cheeses, etc)
- • cooked pasta and noodles, while edible, will be mushy
Now that you know what we don't think are good ideas to freeze, there are some ingredients are actually better when frozen. There are a few steps that you need to do to freeze ingredients as effectively as you can. Here's how to freeze these ingredients better:
1 Prepare your ingredients.
Ingredients can range from fruits and vegetables to meats that you want to save for another day or even next week or month. The first thing you need to do is prepare or chop these ingredients into manageable sizes first. Broccoli is fantastic when frozen but you don't want to freeze the entire stem and florets intact in your freezer. That just takes up too much room you can use for other ingredients!
The trick here is to cut up ingredients to the biggest size you think you will need to use them. That means, that hunk of beef can be cubed, large, for kaldereta and mechado but it can also be sliced thinly enough for when you want some bistek, too. You can cut up that carrot into thick sticks you can slice thinner later for stir-fry recipes which you can then cube for adding to menudo. That big broccoli you can separate the florets and trim the stem into sticks for adding to soups, stir fries, or simply steam later.
Which ever way you prepare your ingredients, these need to be in uniform sizes so these pieces will freeze at the same time. Once prepped, you can go on to the next step.
2 Blanch or tenderize.
If you're going to freeze vegetables, it's a great idea to blanch these first. Why? Blanching will cook these vegetables briefly and accentuate its bright colors. It will also keep it in this condition when frozen. As for meat that needs to be tenderized, you can do this before freezing or you can just freeze the cubes for tenderizing at a later date.
Fruits meanwhile are best frozen when fresh. No need to cook! Just prepare and go straight to freezing them.
3 Cool completely then freeze.
Once your blanched or tenderized meats are cooked, you'll need to cool these completely. You can let time do it or you can do it quickly. To cool things quickly, you'll need an ice bath: a big bowl of water with enough ice in it to cool the temperature of the food cooked down until completely cool or ice cold.
Once these are cooled completely, drain the pieces from the ice bath and place on a baking sheet or otherwise flat surface. You want the pieces to be separate from each other so each piece will freeze individually. This is the best way to not only freeze pieces quickly but also it will be easier to store since it's not a solid block of frozen food. Plus, you avoid freezer burn.
5 Store it right.
Perfectly frozen pieces of food can now be packed together. You can even portion your ingredients so you don't thaw and then need to refreeze those pieces again. While this is an optional step, doing this saves you time and effort in the long run and is a great way to easily grab and use up only what you need. If you froze your food correctly, you will be able to transfer what you need out of the container easily, without needing to thaw the entire package.
Now that you know how to prepare your ingredients better, make sure you keep stock of all your ingredients so that you know which ones should be the food you need to consume before the others.