Tips for storing food in the freezer

People often ask me how I store food in the freezer - do I have a huge supply of plastic containers?  Do I use freezer bags?  I thought I'd share some tips with you.

  • You sometimes need to do a little work up front, before you put food in the freezer.  If you freeze a large casserole you won't be able to cut off a single portion once it is frozen, so plan ahead and freeze in small quantities if you know you'll need small servings.

  • I regularly store food in ziplock bags because they are surprisingly sturdy and don't leak (even when storing soups) and I like to write the contents and date on the white strip on the bag.  There are different sizes available so I use smaller bags for individual portions and larger bags for bulkier food.

  • If food is frozen in a plastic bag or ziplock bag you must remember that you cannot defrost food in the microwave while it is in the bag.  The bag is simply for storage in the freezer.  You may like to microwave it for 10-20 seconds to loosen the bag around the frozen food, then open the bag (with scissors if necessary) and place the frozen food in a microwave-proof container.

  • Some smaller items will stick together when they are frozen.  To overcome this you can place sheets of baking paper between the layers to keep them apart.  Alternatively, you can "flash freeze" the food then place them in a ziplock bag when they are frozen.  Flash freezing is simple: just place the food on a tray lined with baking paper then place the tray in the freezer.  The food will freeze quickly because there is plenty of cold air circulating around the food items.  Once they are frozen, transfer the food to a ziplock bag or plastic container.  I use this method with burger patties, uncooked cookie dough, canapes etc.

  • Some recipes can be frozen in a casserole dish but make sure the dish is suitable for the freezer and the oven, including straight from the freezer to the oven.  Some recipes can be cooked from frozen and you don't want your casserole dish to crack!

  • Occasionally I'll use disposable aluminium trays instead of a casserole dish, generally because they came in smaller sizes if I wanted to freeze individual portions.  I also like to use disposable aluminium trays if I am preparing food to give to a friend so they don't need to return a dish to me.

  • If you have baked a loaf such as banana bread I recommend you slice it before freezing.  It is much easier to take a single slice out of the freezer than trying to saw through a frozen loaf of cake/bread.  I also do this when freezing long loaves of Turkish bread from the supermarket.  I normally slice the Turkish bread into five or six individual pieces then put them back in the bag and place in the freezer.

For more ideas have a look at the FROST BITE book as there are five pages devoted to freezing and defrosting suggestions.

Drop me a line in the comment box below if you have any questions.