Tips: Freezing Things

by on April 16, 2016 » Add the first comment.
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OVERVIEW

  • These freezer tips are a perfect companion book to our Casseroles and Pan Dishes cookbook. The basics in this tip can be used for many casseroles and pan dishes.
  • Prepare the recipe as you normally would. Instead of putting it in the oven, cover it and put in the freezer. For longer term storage, use a vacuum sealer.

QUICK FREEZE

  • If you have strawberries, or other similar high-liquid produce, it is best to freeze them quickly.
    1. Put a heavy metal baking sheet in your freezer overnight.
    2. The next morning, spread your berries on the cold baking sheet and place back in the freezer for 4-5 hours.
    3. Use a spatula to remove the berries and place in a vacuum sealer bag.
    4. Always thaw out berries overnight in the refrigerator to minimize them becoming mushy.
  • Freezing berries is a good way to create ingredients for smoothies.
    1. Break them into smaller pieces
    2. Freeze them as shown above
    3. Place them right in your blender instead of ice cubes to chill your smoothie.

GENERAL FREEZING

  1. Prepare in large deep-dish baking tray.
  2. Let cool on the counter to the point where it may be warm, but not hot.
  3. Place in refrigerator overnight
  4. Using a sharp knife (see Tips and Tricks) cut into serving-sized portions
  5. Place each serving onto a square of aluminum foil
  6. Carefully fold the corners over so that you don’t end up with any pieces of foil embedded into the sauce
  7. Label and freeze
  8. For extra protection, the next day (when it is frozen solid) enclose the frozen foil-wrapped meal in a twist-tie plastic storage bag – or better yet a vacuum sealed bag.

HOW LONG WILL THIS BE KEPT IN YOUR FREEZER

  • For a couple of days you can just keep it wrapped in the foil. Even better would be a baggie sealed with a twist tie.
  • For a couple of weeks, you need a baggie with a twist tie. Even better would be a vacuum sealed bag.
  • For two weeks or more, you need to invest in a vacuum sealer.
  • Amazon sells a Seal-a-Meal which is OK for occasional use.
  • For more frequent use, invest in a Food Saver System

TO THAW

It is always best to thaw something in the refrigerator overnight (or one or two days before if it is a larger item) to prevent bacteria growth. Thawing something on the counter, or in water for more than a half hour, may cause unsafe and potentially harmful bacteria to grow.

LASAGNA: A POTENTIAL STEP BY STEP

  1. Let thaw out in fridge overnight (over a couple of nights if it is a large piece)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Unfold foil, and place (still on foil) onto baking sheet
    – If foil is frozen into the lasagna, cook for 10 minutes before proceeding to step 4.
  4. Lay another layer of foil over the top (do not tuck or secure foil)
  5. Cook 45 minutes (60 minutes if larger)
  6. To finish, remove top foil, then cook 20 more minutes
  7. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving

FREEZING AND THAWING SOUPS AND STOCKS

  • These freezer tips are a perfect companion book to our Stews and Soups cookbook. The basics in this tip can be used for many recipes.
  • Anytime you have a chicken, turkey, ribs, or anything with bones, you have the perfect beginnings for GREAT soup or spaghetti sauce.
  • See the recipe in Grandpa’s book Stews and Soups on how to make stock, THEN once it is done, come back here for instructions on how to freeze it.
  • Making your own stock is easy and tastes much better than canned stuff.

GENERAL FREEZING

  1. Clean canning jars. If you want to go the whole canning route, you will need a pressure canner. These steps will prepare your stock for freezing, NOT canning.
  2. Place your canning lids in a bowl of extremely hot water.
    2 cups of water in a microwave for 3 minutes is adequate
  3. While stock is still too hot to touch, ladle stock into your canning jars leaving at least 1/2 inch clearance on top.
    DO NOT COMPLETELY FILL THE JARS, OR THEY WILL CRACK AS THEY FREEZE, AND THE LIQUID EXPANDS
  4. Screw the lids onto the jars
  5. Place jars in an ice bath for about 3 minutes to cool them rapidly.
  6. You will notice the fat start to separate from the stock
  7. You will hear pinging as the jars somewhat seal themselves.
  8. Once the jars cool down to nearly room temperature, put the jars into the refrigerator overnight to cool even further.
  9. Move to the freezer the following day.
    NOTE: Moving them to the fridge or freezer before they have somewhat cooled will thaw other stuff in your freezer, and increase the chance for bacteria to grow in those other foods.  Be patient, and let the jars cool.

HOW LONG WILL THIS BE KEPT IN YOUR FREEZER

  • For up to a couple of weeks, just placing the jars in your freezer is good enough.
  • For two weeks or more, once the liquid has complete frozen, float a thin later of water on top and freeze again.  This will create a flavor barrier that will isolate your broth from freezer burn.

TO THAW

  1. If you have used water to create a flavor barrier, take the lid off your jar and rinse off any ice crystals that have formed.  Discard this tainted water.
  2. Place the jar in your refrigerator for one or two days.  Two or three days if you used a quart canning jar.
  3. Use a spoon to scrape off the congealed fat and discard
  4. Use this stock as the base for any soups or home-made spaghetti sauces at a ratio of about 1 to 1
  5. Add vegetables or meat as desired, depending on what you are making

A NOTE ABOUT SPOILAGE

If this is only a week old, and has been properly refrigerated, you should be safe BUT if it is older than a  week, and has been thawed out that long and in the refrigerator, proceed as follows:

  1. Put your stock in a soup pan over medium high heat.
  2. Make sure that the temperature comes up to at least 185 degrees so that any pathogens are killed.
  3. Let simmer for at least ten minutes.  Longer is better.
  4. Add your other ingredients, and cook for long enough to finish cooking the other ingredients.
  5. Stock should be bubbling on the sides.
  6. Since bacteria growth has started, do not save left-overs.

If it has NOT been refrigerated for several hours or more, please discard it.

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