The best ways to prep food for the freezer

Freezing food is a great way to cut your grocery store bill. Here's how to prepare and monitor the food you throw in the freezer:

The best ways to prep food for the freezer

Wrap food for freezers

  • If you're planning to freeze food for a short time, plastic bags or containers are perfectly adequate.
  • To decrease the chance of freezer burn, be sure to wrap food tightly.
  • Technically, freezer burn is not harmful, but it does spoil both the texture and colour of the food.
  • If you're freezing food for longer periods of time, wrap them in heavy-duty aluminum foil, special freezer bags or freezer wrap.
  • Always make sure that the package is secure and airtight.
  • Clearly label food with the contents and the date that it was frozen.

Pay special attention to meats

  • When re-wrapping prepackaged meat for freezing, cut the label from the original wrapping and tape it to the new package.
  • For other meats, make a label of the cut of meat, its weight and the date of purchase.
  • To prepare raw hamburger patties for freezing, separate them with small plastic coffee-can tops and stack them in a pile. Then, place them in a plastic bag and seal.
  • Freeze raw or cooked meatballs on a cookie sheet, then transfer them to a container, seal and freeze. They'll stay separate and you can use as many as you want when you need them.

Help bread last longer

  • Bread will dry out quickly in the refrigerator, but it freezes well for up to six months if wrapped in plastic, then foil.
  • When putting the bread in the freezer, don't crush the loaf.
  • To crisp up the crust, remove the bread from its wrapping, thaw and then put in a 180°C (350°F) oven for 10 minutes.

Keep berries juicy

  • To prevent fresh berries from turning to mush in the freezer, wash the fruit thoroughly, pat it dry and place on a cookie sheet.
  • Place the cookie sheet in the freezer until the berries are frozen, then pack the berries in airtight containers.
  • By freezing pieces of fruit individually, you can take out only what you need for recipes and return the rest to the freezer.

Freeze in the taste of herbs

  • You can freeze some fresh herbs, including parsley, chives and basil.
  • Wash the herb, shake, then pat dry with paper towels. Mince it and freeze in a plastic container.
  • Fresh ginger root keeps well frozen. Put the ginger in a plastic bag and put in the freezer, grate it as needed.

Keep you eye on the pies

  • To freeze a freshly baked pie, cool to room temperature.
  • Wrap in plastic and foil and label with a piece of tape, noting the type of filling and the date.
  • If a pie has a sticky filling that's hard to wrap, freeze the pie first and then wrap it.

Keep the "ice" in "ice cream"

  • To keep ice cream fresh, press plastic wrap onto the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming. Then replace the carton top and return to the freezer.
  • Don't let an open container of ice cream sit in the freezer too long. It's best eaten soon after it is purchased.

Making the most of your freezer can make a real difference in your family's food budget. By freezing leftovers, soup stock and produce, and stocking up when frozen foods are on sale, you feed your family well for less.

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