Freezing is a great way to preserve foods. However, it is essential to follow proper storage techniques. Here we give you tips on freezable foods. Because what is the point of following anti-inflammatory guidelines if you are going to get sick from eating spoiled foods? For best freezing practices, keep your freezer at or below 0°F.
When you purchase frozen foods at the grocery store, be sure to store them in their original packaging because they are usually sold in airtight packages which will prevent freezer burn. If you cannot use the original packaging because you cooked the food at home, use a container or bag that is meant to be stored in the freezer (check the packaging information on your storage containers and bags). Be sure to label these containers with a description of the food and date they were put into the freezer and use them within the recommended time. Use the chart below as a guide for storage times.
Flash-Frozen (Fresh) Vegetables
I personally buy a lot of fresh vegetables and with only two of us at home, I inevitably end up wasting some. Flash-freezing is a wonderful way to save yourself from throwing away excess produce. Plus, this method makes future meals a breeze because the vegetables can be portioned out so you only use what you need when you need it. Follow these steps to flash-freeze vegetables:
- Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.
- Blanch one type of vegetable at a time. Add cleaned and chopped vegetables to boiling water and blanch 2-5 minutes, depending on the type of vegetable.
- Immediate transfer blanched vegetable to an ice bath to prevent it from overcooking.
- Once vegetable has cooked, remove from ice bath and pat dry with a paper towel to avoid freezer burn caused by excess moisture.
- Repeat steps with remaining vegetables.
- Line a baking sheet with freezer paper and spread vegetables on top in a single layer, making sure they don’t touch one another.
- Place baking sheet in freezer and let sit until vegetables are frozen solid, at least 6 hours or overnight. Once frozen solid, quickly transfer them to air tight storage containers or freezer safe zippered plastic bags.
Instead of doing full-on meal prep, just freeze your leftover ingredients. Do you have half of an onion left on your cutting board or a lonely lemon that needs to be used now? Ice cube trays are great for small quantities. Muffin tins are great for things you want a little more of. And resealable freezer bags are perfect for storing sides and sweets.
- Use ice cube trays for:
- finely chopped garlic
- pesto and other oil-based sauces (i.e. chimichurri)
- citrus juices
- leftover egg whites
- Use muffin tins for:
- broth or stock
- chopped onions
- cooked leafy greens
- leftover chopped vegetables
- marinara sauce
- Use resealable plastic freezer bags for:
- raw greens for smoothies
- any fruit (freeze on a baking sheet first to avoid pieces sticking together)
- leftover baked goods
Thawing foods is just as, if not more, important than freezing them. Foods should never be thawed on the counter because bacteria grows very quickly at room temperature. There are three safe ways to thaw food.
- In the refrigerator. This takes planning! Food thawed in the refrigerator takes multiple hours, even a full day depending on the size and type of food. Take the item out of the freezer and put it on a plate to collect any liquid that will drip from it. Food that is thawed in the refrigerator can be kept for 1–3 days after cooking and should be cooked before refreezing.
- In the microwave. If you do not have time to thaw food in the refrigerator, remove the packaging and put it in a microwave-safe container. Food can be safely defrosted on the low or defrost settings. Food that is thawed in the microwave should be cooked immediately before eating or refreezing.
- In cold water. Frozen meat, poultry or fish can be defrosted in cold water, as long as the water is changed every 30 minutes. The meat should be in a vacuum-sealed or zippered bag with no leaks. Food that is thawed in cold water should be cooked immediately before eating or freezing.
Remember, food can be prepared without being thawed first, but it will take about 50% longer to cook than it would otherwise.
If you’re interested in an anti-inflammatory lifestyle and more tips like this one, check out The Official Anti-Inflammatory Diet Masterclass. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
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