How to Prep Meats, Vegetables or Fruit for Freezing: A Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: Storage Containers
Always use freezer-safe containers. Most can be found at your grocery store. Resealable freezer bags are ideal because you can squeeze all of the air out. They're made for the freezer, so your food is protected.
Step 2: Plastic Containers
Plastic containers are also an option and are ideal for liquids, such as stocks. Just make sure to cool the item being frozen to at least room temperature before freezing. Finally, glass is an option but only use containers labeled as freezer-safe. Tip: When freezing liquids, leave 1 inch of headroom for expansion.
Step 3: Freezing Meats
When wrapping meat in plastic, be sure to make small, usable portions. Store in the freezer in a resealable bag. For a money-saving tip, buy family value packs and freeze in small portions. They'll thaw faster and you'll avoid thawing more than you need. The meat will keep in the freezer for 3 to 5 months. Tip: Whole chickens and turkeys keep frozen for 9 months to a year.
Step 4: Don't Refreeze
Once the meat has been thawed, don't refreeze it, unless it is cooked in a stew, soup or casserole. Tip: Date your freezer bags so you know when they expire.
Step 5: Freezing Vegetables
Some vegetables do best if you cook them first. Blanching is an easy way to do this. Drop the vegetables in boiling, salted water and cook uncovered until bright green and crisp-tender — about 2 to 5 minutes for most vegetables. Tip: Freeze vegetables at their peak for maximum flavor.
Step 6: Drain and Cool
Drain and immediately cool in a bowl of ice water to set the color and stop the cooking.
Step 7: Pat Dry
If they're wet from blanching, pat them dry. Whether blanched, sautéed or roasted, be sure to cool them before freezing. There's less damage to the texture this way.
Step 8: How Long Can It Be Stored?
Vegetable freezing times vary; most will keep well for 2 to 3 months.
Step 9: Freezing Fruit
Some fruit, like apples and pears, freeze best if cooked since they're less apt to get freezer burn; berries are an exception. Freezing berries at their peak keeps summer around a little longer, so buy in bulk and enjoy them all year round. Freeze berries whole in a two-step process. First freeze washed and dried berries spaced out on a tray — this prevents them from crushing one another.
Step 10: Use a Resealable Bag
Then, transfer the berries to a resealable bag. Remember to squeeze out all of the air, then store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Step 11: Store and Save
With a little extra effort, you can extend the flavors of the seasons and save a little cash by freezing. Watch our how-to video for more.