Freezers are probably one of the best inventions of the 20th century. You can store pretty much everything in a freezer — berries, herbs, meat, fish and even broths. Since all these foods are stored long-term, you can make a lot of mistakes when it comes to proper storing. Let’s find out the best ways to store food in the freezer and what steps you must take.
What is the best way to store food in the freezer? The best way to store food in the freezer is to use either plastic or dense polyethene containers. The upper compartment of the freezer is used for freezing food, while bottom — for storing frozen products. You should never overload the freezer compartments with food.
These are just general tips on how to store food in the freezer. Let’s dive into the steps you must take when storing food in the freezer.
The Proper Way to Store Food in Your Fridge
What Steps Must You Take When Storing Food in the Freezer?
Decide what products should always be at hand.
Before tidying up your freezer, think about filling it based on your daily needs. What ingredients should you always have on hand? For example, if you often cook vegetable dishes, then it is logical to have them at hand.
You need to consider how often you cook: daily or on weekends, the frequency of going to the grocery store or the market, and how often you have friends over. Answering these questions will help you understand what should be in your freezer.
Pull out all the foods and sort them in a way that suits you. The easiest way to arrange them is by frequency of use. If you often eat at home, then you should put all your favourite food in the upper compartment. Do not forget to put semi-cooked food, too. For example, you can place a vegetable mixture, seafood, berries, herbs, mushrooms, a package of dumplings or meatballs. And, of course, you shouldn’t forget about dessert: there should be a place for ice cream too.
Get the containers. If you have a large freezer, then the easiest way is to allocate each container for a specific meal: one for meat, another for fish, another for mushrooms, and the lowest one with frozen soups and other ready-made meals.
Divide the freezer space into zones.
If you have a lot of different food in your freezer, you must divide the freezer into zones. For example, frozen vegetables can be stored on the left and berries on the right. This simple rule will help to avoid wasting hours trying to find the right container. Plus, it is not recommended to open the freezer door for a long time, as this entails an increase in temperature and, accordingly, higher energy consumption.
Use sealed containers and freezer bags
Firstly, with the help of freezer containers and bags, you can compactly place food inside the freezer compartment. Secondly, improperly packaged food is subject to rapid shrinkage at low temperatures. To avoid this, it is necessary to use sealed packaging that maintains the initial level of moisture in the products and protects them from drying out, oxidation and penetration of microorganisms.
Conventional containers, foil and cling film are not suitable as packaging for freezing food. It is recommended to use special freezer bags. In addition, there is a special place for writing on their surface, which is a good way to organize the order in the freezer. You can specify not only the name of the product but also the date when you froze it.
Remove containers if more space is required.
If there is not enough space in the freezer, you can remove the containers and place food directly on the shelves. This is especially useful if most of your food is packed in sealed containers.
Allocate space for storing bulky items.
Free up the required space to place large items such as a large cake. For this purpose, some freezers have a special system that allows you to flexibly change the volume using removable shelves and pull-out containers.
Use an insulating panel if there are few items in the freezer.
By the summer, the stocks of food prepared for the winter gradually decrease in the freezer, and the energy for cooling them continues to be consumed in the same volume. If you have a freezer with NoFrost, you can reduce your energy consumption by up to 50% by installing the insulation panel, which cuts off the volume of the freezer that is not currently being used.
Do not store foods in large portions.
It is best to pack frozen food in small bags and containers. Then you can get the amount of food you need for the dish, for example, and not defrost a large package to take just a bit.
Divide frozen foods into groups.
The first group consists of products that do not require thermal culinary processing (boiling, frying, stewing, etc.) after storage, i.e. those that are ready to eat immediately after defrosting (berries, some vegetables, fruits, melons, herbs, cottage cheese, sour cream) or after slight heating (ready meals);
The second group consists of products that require mandatory thermal cooking after storage in the freezer (semi-finished products — raw meatballs, chops, beans, peas, potatoes, fish, poultry, etc.).
Ready-to-eat products that do not require heat treatment should not contain pathogenic microbes, they should fully meet the requirements of “sanitary reliability”.
Where is the coldest place in the freezer? The coldest place in the freezer is the lowest shelf. Therefore, meat and fish are stored on the lower shelf, semi-finished products and ice cream should be located in the middle, and berries should be on the upper shelf.
Never put some foods in the freezer at all.
Not all food can be stored in the freezer. Some only go bad from frost.
What foods cannot be frozen?
- Strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya and all high water content berry fruits. Firstly, in the cold, they can crack (after all, the liquid expands). Secondly, after defrosting, they will lose both taste, shape and aroma.
- Cabbage, celery, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, parsnips, chicory, radish, radish. They also contain a lot of liquid and only lose their taste from freezing.
- Potatoes. Raw root vegetables after thawing become soft, watery and sweet.
- Eggs. After freezing, they acquire an unpleasant taste, and bacteria penetrate through the cracked shell, which makes this product completely unsuitable for food.
- Yoghurt, cheese. The beneficial properties and pleasant taste of fermented milk products deteriorate, moreover, due to the low temperature, they can curdle.
- Cream, sour cream, dairy sauces, custard, mayonnaise. After freezing, they can be thrown away – they stratify, become watery and lumpy.
- Ready-made pasta, spaghetti, rice. These side dishes lose texture and flavour after freezing.
The Bottom Line:
* Place packages vertically.
* Do not place polyethene on the perforated bottom of the freezer compartment, otherwise, it will impede the vertical airflow.
* When placing several packages, do not seal them, on the contrary, let there be a small space between them, streamlined with air.
* Place packages one on top of another (vertically).
* Cover the bottom of each freezer compartment with polyethene.
* Seal packages when placing them in the freezer.
* Exceed the amount (weight) of frozen foods at the same time.
How Long Can Food Be Frozen?
No food can be stored in the freezer for years. The maximum is 1 year. And in most cases even less. Here is a guide on how long the food can be frozen.
- Poultry — 9 months
- Beef, pork, lamb, horse meat — 4-6 months
- Fish: fatty — 2-3 months, white fish — 6 months
- Seafood — 3-4 months
- Semi-finished products (dumplings, dumplings, pancakes, cabbage rolls, minced meat, etc.) — 3-4 months
- Ready meals, including broths and soups, sauces, meatballs — 2-3 months
- Vegetables and fruits — up to 1 year, except for tomatoes (2 months), peppers (3-4 months), zucchini and pumpkins (10 months), apples (4 months), apricots (6 months), peaches (4 months)
- Mushrooms: boiled up to 1 year, raw — 8 months
- Berries — 6 months.
- Greens and herbs — 6-8 months
- Ice cream — 2 months
- Margarine and butter — about 9 months
- Bread and other baked goods — 2-3 months