Freezing food is the easiest method of food preservation. Although freezing food extends its shelf life, it doesn't compare in shelf life with freeze dried food. It is, however, the closest in taste and nutrition to fresh foods.
Fruits and vegetables freeze well, but some need preparation before freezing.
Meats need no preparation — they only need to be properly wrapped or sealed.
The only equipment needed for freezing foods are clean containers that are designed specifically for freezing food, such as freezer bags, plastic freezer containers, or canning/freezing jars. (Do not use glass jars that are not specifically for canning/freezing as they make break easily.) Containers should be moisture/vapor resistant to prevent "freezer burn." Using a vacuum sealer is the best way to prevent freezer burn.
There are other kitchen processing items that can make your food preparation for freezing, canning, etc. much faster and easier.
To make sure your frozen foods stay frozen, read how to this inexpensive little gadget saves frozen foods from unexpected thawing.
Choose fruit that is fully ripened for the best taste and nutrition. Wash thoroughly and cut off any bruised or damaged parts. If you see any mold at all, discard the fruit.
Cut into serving or bite-sized pieces for easier serving when thawed later. Do not blanch fruit as it will be mushy when defrosted.
Cut fruits usually taste better if frozen in a sugar syrup or dry sugar which coats the fruit and protects it from the enzymes that change the color to brown. Use dry sugar for fruits that easily produce juice such as strawberries and peaches. Those that juice more slowly need a sugar syrup such as pineapples and apples.
Small berries such as cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and currants can be frozen without sugar.
Mix your favorite fruits in a blender for a delicious puree. Use it on ice cream; mix into plain or vanilla yogurt, or add to cereal for a yummy breakfast.
To prevent fruits such as apples, peaches or pears from turning brown when exposed to air, dip them in ascorbic acid or lemon juice or add to your sugar syrup. Fruit Fresh® is available in most grocery stores and will serve the same purpose.
If using sugar syrup, prepare as follows:
|Light (less sweet)||1 cup||4 cups||4 1/2 cups|
|Medium||1 3/4 cups||4 cups||5 cups|
|Heavy||2 3/4 cups||4 cups||5 1/3 cups|
Combine sugar and water in a pan and heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Then use just enough to coat the fruit in the container. Add the lid and freeze.
Freezing vegetables is a little different - they need blanching before freezing. What is blanching? It means to cook slightly before freezing. (Fruit does not need blanching; it will just make fruit mushy.)
The blanch times on the table below are listed according to size of cut vegetables. Blanch smaller sizes for the minimum recommended time and larger sizes for the maximum recommended time.
young, tender, crisp
wash, blanch, chill in ice water
|Asparagus||Cut in desired lengths.||
|Beans, string||Cut, slice, or leave whole.||
|Beans, lima||Shell, sort, wash.||
|Broccoli||Peel stock, trim. Split lengthwise.||
|Brussels sprouts||Wash well and sort (small, medium, large).||
|Cabbage||Cut to medium or coarse shreds.||
|Carrots||Peel. Cut in slices or dice.||
|Cauliflower||Soak 30 min. in salt water (4 tsp. salt/gal. water).||
3 minutes (water containing salt)
|Corn, whole kernel||Husk, de-silk, blanch, cut from cob.||
|Greens, all kinds||Wash well. Discard tough leaves and stems.||
|Okra||Trim stem – do not break pods.||
|Peas, pod||Wash, remove stems and strings.||
|Peas, green, blackeyed||Shell, sort, wash.||
|Summer squash||Wash, cut into 1/2-inch slices.||
|Turnips/Parsnips||If using sugar syrup, prep||
It is important to pack the food in the appropriate freezer containers. Use freezer ZipLoc bags, plastic freezer cups, canning bottles, or vacuum sealing bags. Leave 1/2 inch of head space for dry food and 1 to 2 inches for food covered with liquid/syrup.
After packing, wipe the top of each package clean. Seal airtight. When filling plastic storage bags, be sure the fruit is covered by the sugar syrup. Remember to “burp” the bag, to expel all of the air before you seal it. This will prevent freezer burn and keep the food from drying out.
Label the container with the date and the name of the product.
Place bags, containers, or jars in the freezer and store at 0°F (18°C) or below.
If you have enough space, freezing your food is a great way to store it. However, the shelf life is not as long as freeze-dried or dehydrated food, so don't forget to rotate.