What is Freezing
Freezing is one of the best ways to preserve the freshness of your food as fresh frozen foods taste almost as good as if they were picked from the garden that day. Freezing stops most biological and chemical processes that slowly break down food once it’s picked. Nearly any food from vegetable to meats to prepared soups and stews can be frozen. Some foods need special preparation before freezing such as cooking or blanching. As well, some foods should not be frozen such as lettuce and potatoes.
What Do I Need
Most people freeze their food in plastic “Ziploc bags”. You can also vacuum seal your food and then freeze it for extra long life and freshness (refer to Vacuum Sealing section to follow). Remember to label and date your packages. If blanching or cooking food before freezing then the appropriate cookware will be needed. Ascorbic acid and/or sugar can be used for some fruits if desired.
Foods that Should Not be Frozen
There are many foods that you don’t want to freeze such as eggs in the shell, salad greens, creamed cottage cheese, sour cream, heavy or whipping cream, stuffed poultry, potatoes, fluffy frosting, custard, cream filling in layer cakes and pies, fried foods and mayonnaise salads.
Rinse and pit. May be cut in half or left whole. May peel or blanch by dipping in boiling water for 30 seconds. May sweeten with 1/2 cup sugar per quart.
Rinse berries and drain well. Spread berries on tray and freeze until solid. Then pour into plastic freezer bag or a freezing container. May also pack in sugar (1/4 to 1/2 cup per quart).
Rinse, de-stem and pit. If sweetening is desired use 2/3 cups sugar. May use 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid per quart. May also tray-freeze, then put into bags (see berries).
Rinse ripe fruit. Be sure to remove stems and then pack in freezer bags.
De-stem, wash and place in freezer bags or containers.
Rinse and peel. Cut fruit into pieces. Be sure to avoid the flesh near the pit. Mix slices with 1/4 teaspoon of ascorbic acid and 1/2 cup sugar. Make sure sugar dissolves. Pack in freezer bags or containers.
Cut the melons in half and remove seeds. Cut again into quarters and eighths, then peel and cut into cubes. Pack in freezer bags or containers.
Peel peaches by dipping in boiling water for 1 minute, then placing under cold water. The skins should slip off easily. May leave on the skins of nectarines. May mix with 1/4 teaspoon ascorbic acid and 1/2 cup sugar per quart.
Peel, halve and core. Heat in boiling sweetened water (syrup) for about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup ascorbic acid to each quart of syrup.
Peel and remove eyes and cores. Cut into wedges, slices, etc. Dry-pack in freezer bags or containers.
Rinse and dry. May slice or pit. Dry-pack or sugar-pack with 1/2 cup sugar per quart.
Rinse and remove leaves (leaves are poisonous). Cut stems in 1/2 to 1 inch pieces. Dry pack or add sugar (up to 1 cup sugar per quart).
Cut off tough ends, if any. Blanch for 2-4 minutes.
Snap off ends and cut beans into two-inch lengths. Blanch for 3 minutes.
Beets must be frozen fully cooked. Generally, use smaller beets or cut them up. Cook 30-45 minutes.
Trim ends and rinse. Cut into small pieces (about 2 inches, heads no more than 1 1/2 inches across. Blanch for three minutes.
Peel and cut to desired size, but generally no bigger than three or four inches in length. Blanch 2 to 5 minutes depending on size.
For corn on the cob, cook 7 - 11 minutes. For whole-kernel place whole cob in boiling water for 4 minutes, cut off corn with knife. Additionally scrape out pulp for cream-style corn.
Trim dried stem ends. Slice to desired size. Sauté mushrooms. Let cool, then pack fully cooked.
Peel and chop. No cooking or blanching is necessary.
Shell and blanch for 1.5 minutes then freeze on a tray. When peas are frozen collect in bags.
Cut squash into 1/2 inch thick slices and blanch for 3 minutes.
Scald in boiling water to loosen skin. Peel and cut off stems. Cut to desired size and heat through. Cool, then pack.
Freshly slaughtered meat should be chilled for about 24 hours before it is frozen. Beef may be aged (chilled between 33-40 degrees F) for up to seven days. Meat should be used after it has been initially thawed. Meat should be wrapped in freezer paper, foil or plastic wrap. Frozen ground meat should be used within 3 months. Pork has a short holding time of 6 to 9 months. Beef, lamb, veal and venison lasts 8 to 12 months. Poultry and other birds last about 12 months. It is also recommended that you thaw frozen meats and poultry in the refrigerator, not at room temperature to prevent spoilage.
Where Can I Learn More
There are numerous books and websites available to help you freeze your meat and produce including www.preservefood.com.