The big freeze
The freezer should be every food lover’s best friend! It’s a great tool for preserving food, sealing in freshness and keeping tasty meals to hand, which can save us time and money and help to reduce food waste. Follow our hints and tips to make the most of your chilled chum!
You can freeze almost any food (including hard cheese, eggs, bread, home made meals, cakes) although some foods do not freeze as well as others. The structure of some foods with a high water content like lettuce and tomatoes will change when frozen, however these can still be frozen and used for soups and sauces, rather than throwing them away.
Food doesn’t have to be frozen on the day of purchase. It can be frozen at any point up to the end of its “use by” date.
Food should be cooled before transferring into the freezer otherwise the heat from the food will warm the freezer up causing it to use more energy. Let it cool on the side, wrap up well and label, before transferring it into the freezer.
There is no need to thaw vegetables before cooking, simply steam or boil from frozen for 5-10 minutes, depending on the variety.
You can freeze home grown produce, simply top and tail and blanche for 2-3 minutes before plunging into cold water and drain. Freeze flat to avoid “clumping” – once frozen solid they can be bagged in portions to save space. Soft fruit can be frozen whole, or pureed first and frozen for use in drinks or sorbet.
It’s best to defrost food gradually in the fridge so it keeps cool until you are ready to cook it. Try to put frozen food in the fridge the night before you intend to eat it and it should be defrosted in time for tea. Use it within two days. It is also safe to defrost at room temperature provided you intend to eat it as soon as it’s thawed.
Frozen raw meat or fish can be defrosted, cooked thoroughly then frozen again. Take care to defrost thoroughly and re-heat until piping hot. Remember, food should never be reheated more than once.
If uncooked food has been defrosted by accident don’t try to pop it back in the freezer – cook it and either eat it, or re-freeze it, as above.
You can keep food safely in the freezer for years, as long as it has stayed frozen the whole time. However, it will gradually lose its quality and taste, so avoid “stockpiling” by planning to eat frozen foods more often so you don’t forget what’s in there and “rotate” older foods to the front so they can be used up first.
For a stress free dinner at a later date, try cooking batches of dishes such as chilli, curry or stew, and freeze them in handy portion sizes. Make sure you reheat your food until it’s piping hot.
Frozen food isn’t as good as fresh
False – many foods are frozen at their freshest, e.g. fish and vegetables, so they keep all the goodness “locked” in.
Food is better for you if you eat it fresh, rather than freezing to eat later
False – home freezing fresh foods and home-cooked meals is a great way to save food for later, sealing in the goodness until you are ready to eat it. Not only that, it’s a great way to take advantage of discounts or multibuys on more expensive items such as meat or fish: just divide into portions in freezer bags and mark up with the date frozen.