Frozen Food Storage Essentials: How Long Can You Freeze Foods For?
If you freeze food, you can save money and do your part for the environment. The challenging aspect is to determine the length of time you can keep food in the freezer since some frozen food will last longer than others. Plus, the type of frozen food packaging you use will greatly impact the longevity of a frozen item. Keep reading to learn how to maximize your freezing capabilities.
Freezing Times: Produce
The key to longevity for most vegetables is to blanch them before you freeze them. To blanch vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, sweet potatoes and spinach, you must add them to boiling water for the appropriate amount of time for each vegetable. The right amount of blanching time will stop the decaying process. Generally speaking, when vegetables are blanched and stored properly, they can be frozen for up to 18 months.
On the other hand, most fruits, and some veggies such as onions and peppers, benefit from being frozen directly after purchase with little to no treatment. If you need to wash them, be sure to dry them as much as possible before you freeze them to prevent premature freezer burn. Keep in mind that some fruits — such as bananas and kiwis — require peeling before freezing for optimal results. Fruits don’t last as long as vegetables; they will keep for roughly a year.
Freezing Times: Meat And Cheese
Layers are the optimal methodology in preserving meat in the freezer. The key is to prevent air from reaching the meat. One highly recommended method is to wrap the meat tightly with plastic wrap making sure to cover each part of the exposed surface. The next step is to wrap it tightly with aluminum foil or to place it inside a sealable plastic bag.
It is important to note that if you freeze meat and then thaw it out, you should not freeze it a second time. Also, uncooked frozen meat other than ground beef should last a year in the freezer. Raw ground beef will last four months. Frozen cooked meat, on the other hand, is recommended to be consumed within three months.
Frozen food can also include cheese. Much like produce, some cheeses freeze better than others. Keep in mind that previously frozen cheese will have a slightly different consistency once it is thawed; therefore, it is ideal to use in cooking rather than on a cheese plate. Frozen cheese will last for up to six months. Soft cheeses do not fare as well in the freezer as hard cheeses.
Freezing Times: Liquids
Freezing food is not limited to solid foods; you can also freeze liquids. You can freeze any kind of milk whether it be of the dairy variety or the nut variety. You can freeze broths, such as chicken or beef, that you make from scratch to improve the flavour of any dish. Liquids typically have a shorter frozen lifespan of two to three months.
Packaging Frozen Food Properly
You can always use the basics such as plastic wrap, aluminum foil and plastic containers. However, the ultimate frozen food storage comes in the form of a vacuum seal. These machines are becoming increasingly more affordable — offering a great ROI for restaurant owners — and they will add anywhere from a few extra weeks to several extra months in the freezer compared to plastic bags and plastic containers.
Properly Labelling Frozen Food
After proper packaging, labelling is the most essential component to successful frozen food storage. Without a label, you run the risk of forgetting which food is inside each package, and how long it’s been in the freezer. You should label each item before you freeze it. Most professionals recommend that you write on the label the date it was frozen and what food that is stored inside. You can use special labels or you can simply use a piece of tape and a permanent marker.
If you are interested in saving money and minimizing food waste to help the environment, you might benefit from superior frozen food storage equipment.
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