Freezing and Defrosting Guide
Freezing and defrosting and storing and reheating and labelling and all the other things you have to think about when preparing frozen food can sometimes be enough to put you off. We have created a simple guide for safe food preparation and food storage, and now some simple info on freezing your food just in time for our Fill Your Freezer Challenge. Freezing is a great way to preserve food for a long period of time and allows you to turn your freezer into a time and money saving go-to place. You can freeze raw foods, cooked foods, purees, and have nutritious and delicious food on hand right when you need it.
Freezing doesn’t kill bacteria but does stop it from growing rapidly – preventing food poisoning. Make sure you freeze food while it is at its best.
Tip: If you lose power and your freezer thaws always check to see if the loss is covered on your home insurance.
Freezer storing tips and tools:
Keeping your freezer organised and your food well labelled may seem like a big task, but it will save you time in the long run, keep your freezer running at its best and most importantly keep your food safe.
- Use freezer cling wrap, and then foil, to wrap foods such as pick ‘n’ mix muffins, tuna fritters, and chicken quinoa nuggets, before freezing.
- Buy a roll of freezer paper/plastic to use between lots of little finger foods – this stops them sticking together.
- Invest in some good quality sealable freezer bags to contain your finger foods.
- Buy some BPA free plastic airtight containers that suit the size of your freezer. These are great for freezing liquids such as our vegetable stock, or mini meals like tuna mornay, or risotto.
- Label your food with the meal name and date it was frozen – it’s also good to place the date it needs to be used by too so you can check out what is coming to an end with a quick glance.
- Store cooked foods separately from raw foods.
- Keep your freezer relatively full to help keep the temperature stable and saving energy.
- Add water to your cooked food before freezing. Freezing dry food such as meat, rice and pasta will only make them dryer when re-heating.
- Re-pack store-bought meats. Say you buy some lovely organic sausages, always wrap and pack yourself before freezing to prevent freezer burn and allowing the flexibility of single serves.
What doesn’t freeze well?
Some foods just don’t freeze well, so you are better off making these from scratch.
- Dairy foods (such as cream, yoghurt and milk) tend to curdle when they are thawed.
- Egg based sauces will separate when thawing.
- Watery vegetables such as lettuce will turn mushy when thawed.
Avoiding Freezer Burn:
Freezer burn is when you see your frozen food with crystallised ice all over it. The freezer burn is essentially destroying the quality and nutrients in the food. It also dries out the food and often won’t taste very nice at all. Storing your food properly is really the only way to prevent freezer burn.
- Wrap all your food well, if possible double wrap with freezer cling wrap and then foil before sealing in a freezer bag.
- Buy containers that are meant for the freezer. You will end up saving money by buying quality, rather than throwing out all your freezer burnt food.
- Reduce the air around the food – push the air out of your freezer bags, and fill containers leaving only a small amount of food (around 2-3cms) for swelling.
- You need a moisture-vapour barrier to stop the food dehydrating – this can only be achieved with freezer proof products.
Freezing Raw or Cooked Bite-sized food:
- When making a large batch of rissoles, meatballs or nuggets it’s often best to freeze these raw – this helps with flavour, texture and nutritional value.
- The best and most economical way to freeze these types of meals is to prepare the food, then flash-freeze by placing the food on a baking or flat tray, covering well, then leaving to freeze for a few hours. Once frozen, you can wrap each portion individually and place in a freezer bag for easy access and cook small amounts as required.
- When using this method, you can’t leave the food exposed in the freezer for long periods, such as overnight as it may start to develop freezer burn.
Basic Temperature Safe Guide:
- Keep chilled food at 5°C or colder.
- Keep frozen food frozen solid.
- Keep hot foods at 60°C or hotter.
The best place to thaw your food is in the fridge. Meal planning will not only save you time and money but is ideal for planning and defrosting the following days meal in the safest possible way.
- Remember, bacteria can grow in frozen food while it is thawing.
- Thaw frozen food in the fridge, unless you have pack instructions, in which case, follow those.
- You can de-frost foods in your microwave using the defrost setting – only use this method if you intend to immediately cook and eat the food.
- It is best to defrost frozen meats, fish and poultry thoroughly before cooking to ensure all areas of the food are adequately cooked through.
- Keep defrosted food in the fridge until it is ready to be cooked.
Re-freezing thawed food:
- The department of food and safety states we should avoid re-freezing thawed food. Food that is frozen a second time is likely to have higher levels of bacteria posing a greater risk of food poisoning. The higher risk will depend on the condition of the food when frozen, and how the food is handled and cooked between thawing and refreezing. but raw food should never be refrozen once thawed.
- You may wish to use your own judgment; I personally don’t re-freeze any thawed food, particularly when cooking for small children, it’s just not worth the risk in them getting sick.
Cooking Your Frozen Foods:
- Pre-cooked frozen meals will cook more evenly after they have been thawed, however you can cook these in the oven straight from the freezer.
- Allow around 50% more time to cook a meal from frozen. You can cover food to stop it burning and remove the cover for the final minutes.
FAQ – Freezer how-to for some favourite OHC Recipes:
Different foods often require a different type of freezing tecunique. Here are some of our most common foods that have had freezer questions:
- These are best stored in a good quality airtight container. Leave a gap at the top to compensate for any swelling.
- Layer on top of each other with a freezer plastic in between. Store in an airtight container. OR, wrap each in plastic wrap and foil and store in a sealable freezer bag.
- Wrap each muffin in plastic wrap and foil and store in a sealable freezer bag.
- Freeze in sealable baby food trays or ice cube trays with a lid so you have small portions at hand. Once frozen you can pop the individual portions out and store in a sealable freezer bag.’
- Either freeze whole family meals in a freezer and oven proof dish so it can be reheated straight from frozen. OR, divide into small quantities and freeze in small airtight containers leaving a gap at the top for swelling.
- Layer on top of each other with a freezer plastic in between. Sore in a sealable plastic freezer bag.
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By reading and using this information you agree that you are taking fully and complete responsibility for your choices and actions, your health and any food that you refreeze, cook or eat. This information is based on what we know personally, and as much as we would love to think we are always right – there is a lot of conflicting advice out there and food safety is a serious issue. If you are ever in doubt it is always best to throw it out. For more up-to-date information you can read this article from the AUST GOV Department of Food and Safety.