Preparing meats, vegetables, fruits for freezing
Q: Can you give me some tips for saving food in the freezer?
A: Freezing is a fast and easy way to preserve food at the peak of its flavor, and it’s a great way to get more value by buying in bulk.
• Always use freezer-safe containers. Most can be found at your grocery store. Resealable freezer bags are ideal because you can squeeze virtually all of the air out.
• Plastic containers are also an option and are ideal for liquids, such as stocks. Just make sure to cool the item being frozen to at least room temperature before freezing. Finally, glass is an option but only use containers labeled as freezer-safe.
• When wrapping meat in plastic, be sure to make small, usable portions. Store in the freezer in a resealable bag. The meat will keep in the freezer for three to five months.
• Some vegetables do best if you cook them first. Blanching is an easy way to do this. Drop the vegetables in boiling, salted water and cook uncovered until bright green and crisp-tender — about 2 to 5 minutes for most vegetables. Freeze vegetables at their peak for maximum flavor.
Drain and immediately cool in a bowl of ice water to set the color and stop the cooking. If they’re wet from blanching, pat them dry. Whether blanched, sauteed or roasted, be sure to cool them before freezing. There’s less damage to the texture this way.
• Some fruits, like apples and pears, freeze best if cooked since they’re less apt to get freezer burn; berries are an exception. Freezing berries at their peak keeps summer around a little longer. Freeze berries whole in a two-step process. First, freeze washed and dried berries spaced out on a tray — this prevents them from crushing one another.
Then, transfer the berries to a resealable bag. Remember to squeeze out all of the air, then store in the freezer for up to three months.