Thursday, July 14, 2011

Inside Edition: Freezing

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I reorganized my freezer (see that post here ).  Since then, I have been so happy to have received many positive comments about this post from readers who were inspired to reorganize and intrigued as to what exactly can be stored in a freezer.  Today, I am happy to share with you what I store in my freezer, how I store it, and what- if any - time needs to be allowed for defrosting.  The above picture is of my freezer, and the shelves listed below are in order from the top of this photo.

1) Top shelf: packaged meat, frozen stove top and microwave meals
I freeze meat just as it is packaged from the store, although sometimes I divide up a larger package (such as a package of chicken breasts) into the individual servings I will make at a single time, and store those servings in zip lock bags.  If I marinate any meet before freezing it, I simply place the meat in a zip lock bag along with the marinade.  Good quality bags do not need to be doubled, but if you feel the need to double bag, go ahead and do it!  You definitely want to prevent 'frostbite' if you can!  I usually allow 3-4 hours for meat to thaw, and I place the bagged meat in a dish of room temperature water while it is defrosting.

2) Second shelf from top: boxed crackers and pasta
Freezing crackers is a great way to keep them from going stale, so long as they are properly sealed.  Unopened boxes can be stored in the freezer as is.  For opened boxes, I simply place the bag of crackers in another zip lock bag, and store that in its original box.  When I am ready to use these crackers, I simply pull them out of the freezer and place them on a serving plate.  They are usually defrosted in just a few minutes.  For unopened boxes of pasta, I have never felt a need to seal these in any additional way.  I usually pull them out of the freezer and immediately make the recipe.  For pastas such as spaghetti and linguine, I typically store these in their original boxes within a zip lock bag in the freezer.

3) Middle shelf: baking mixes
Unopened brownie mixes, boxes of cookies, muffin mixes, and packets of cookie mixes are stored on this shelf.  There is no defrost time necessary when you are ready to use any of these mixes to whip up some semi-homemade baked goodies.  I also sometimes store bags of flour on this shelf (and place the opened bags in another zip lock bag).  Please note (and I am speaking from personal experience) that you should never store sugar in the freezer- it will lump and not be useable.

4) Second shelf from bottom: chips and baked goods
I store chips in the freezer for the same reason I store crackers in the freezer- most often, a bag of chips in our house would turn stale before it was finished, and by storing chips in the freezer I circumvent this issue.  Any opened bag of chips are simply sealed with a chip clip and stored in the basket on this shelf.  Like crackers, chips are mostly unfrozen in a few minutes.  Storing baked goods in the freezer allows me to usually have some baked goodness on hand at any given moment.  Like everything else in this freezer, I just make sure everything is sealed well so as to prevent freezer burn.  In the picture above, you will see that I have a few containers of cookies stored in my freezer.  I like doubling the recipes when I bake, and storing a set of cookies in the freezer.  This way, I can easily serve a plate of homemade cookies even when I did not have the time to bake that week.  Cookies take a while to defrost on their own- maybe two hours or so- but my grandma's hint is to defrost warm them up in the microwave (on a very low power level) for that 'warm-milk-and-cookies' result.

5) Bottom shelf: bread
If any of these breads sat on the kitchen counter, they would start to mold in just a few days.  I love having sandwich bread, dinner rolls, and loaves of garlic bread on hand, and storing them in the refrigerator and freezer is my secret to keeping them on hand and not worrying about them going bad.  I store everyday sandwich bread in my kitchen fridge, and have extra replacement loaves in the freezer (of course, double bagged).  Other less often used breads, such as rolls and garlic bread, are simple stored in the freezer and taken out as needed.  I allow 2-3 hours for bread to thaw, and as long as it has been stored properly and protected from freezer burn, you will never guess that it was stored in a freezer.

In the door you may notice in the picture at the top that I have butter, more pasta boxes, and some mason jars stored there.  I have found that butter needs to sit out for a few hours in order to thaw, but it can be used for a recipe almost straight out of the freezer- just pop it in the microwave for a minute at a time, on power level one or two, until it is sot enough for your use.  The mason jars you see are storing soups I have previously made.  I simply fill a jar up with soup, allow some room for expansion, cover the top of the jar with a few layers of saran wrap, and place the lid around the opening of the jar.  This way, if the soup does expand when it is froze, the saran wrap will allow it to come through the top of the jar opening if necessary.  To thaw these soups I simply take the frozen jar of soup in the morning, place it in a bowl filled with room temperature water, and allow it to sit there all day.  By evening, the soup is thawed, and I can pour it in a pan and heat it on the stove.

Well, there you have it!  Hope this is helpful information, and please let me know if you have any more questions about my freezer techniques.

1 comment:

  1. This is kind of like a mini bible! I feel like I just learned so much that I had never known before... hehe! :)