In an ideal world, we would have a kitchen stacked full of fresh fruit and vegetables, but when actually having to deal with food spoilage in the real life, the freezer is our next best option for good tasting produce that is just as nutritious. That being said, being safe while freezing food can help reduce any risk of bacteria or food poisoning and improve the quality of your frozen goods too.
Despite popular belief that fresh is always better, frozen produce can sometimes be more nutrient dense than fresh. The reason for this is that, despite fresh produce being fresh it is often times picked too early before it’s able to get the optimal amount of nutrients. Frozen produce is picked at its peak before being blanched and frozen, and is able to have a higher nutrient content because of this.
Here are some of our best hacks for getting the most out of your frozen foods:
- Ideal freezing temperature is -18°C. One easy way of estimating your freezer’s temperature is to check the consistency of ice-cream stored inside it; if the ice-cream is not rock hard, your freezer is too warm.
- Always stick to the 2 hour rule. Any food that requires freezing should not stay at room temperature for more than 2 hours before using (note – this changes to one hour if the room temperature is above 30°C).
- Once frozen food thaws, the bacteria starts to multiply quickly, which is why re-freezing thawed food is not recommended.
- Label frozen food items with their name and date, and use the items with the oldest dates first.
- When freezing liquids or foods with liquids, make sure to leave room in the freezer for expansion.
- Always cool cooked food completely before freezing.
- Freeze food in realistically sized portions. You don’t want to defrost 5 chicken breasts at once when you are only cooking for yourself.
- Freezing is the best way to enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables all year round. For example, if you freeze spinach you can enjoy green smoothies during the summer when spinach isn’t as abundant as in winter.
- If there is an electricity outage in your home, keep the freezer door closed. Food in a loaded freezer will usually stay frozen for 24 hours if you keep the door closed.
Suggested item freezing durations:
|Category||Product||Duration of Freezing|
|Dairy Products||Cheese*||6 months|
|Oily fish (salmon, mackerel)||2-3 months|
|White fish||6 months|
|Avocado, banana||3 months|
|Citrus fruits||4-6 months|
|All other fruits||10-12 months|
|Fruit juice||8-12 months|
|Vegetables||All vegetables||10-12 months|
|Processed meat (hotdogs, luncheon, salami)||1-2 months|
|Miscellaneous||Soups and stews||2-3 months|
|Cake batter||2 months|
|Yeast dough||2 weeks|
* Cottage cheese, cream cheese, feta, goat, fresh mozzarella, and soft processed cheeses should not be frozen.
Best Foods to Freeze
Some foods preserve their nutritional content, texture, and flavors better when frozen. Here are some of our favorite foods to freeze:
- Frozen berries and bananas (perfect for smoothies)
- Chicken casseroles
- Homemade soups
- Marinated chicken or beef
- Peas, green beans
- Vegetable stock (for cooking)