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Freezing saves money and time

When your plum tree is laden or you're buried under piles of runner beans, when you're faced with a vast quantity of left-over stew or roast, or your local supermarket has irresistible special offers, then you can be glad if you have a freezer. Storage at minus 18 °C (at least) will prolong the shelf-life of many fresh foods and cooked dishes for many months. The taste and nutritional benefits are unaffected. Of course, there are some foods, for example salad leaves, raw potatoes and soured milk products don't freeze successfully.

Preparation and packaging

Wash fresh fruit carefully before freezing and hull or peel it. Blanching is recommended for most vegetables. That means dropping the vegetables briefly into boiling water. Blanching deactivates enzymes in the vegetables themselves which would otherwise cause degeneration of colours and nutrients while the vegetables are in your freezer. Most fruit does not need blanching.

 

Packaging needs to be airtight in order to prevent freezer burn and loss of quality. Polyethylene freezer bags, available in a range of sizes and styles, are an excellent way to package food for freezing. Large pieces of food, like cakes, butter and cheese, can be securely wrapped in heavy-duty aluminium foil, always provided they don't contain any acid. Soups, stews, fruit cakes and tarts are best frozen in tight-closing plastic containers.

 

 

Freeze in portions for easier defrosting

"It's a good idea to think ahead when you're preparing food for freezing and divide it into ready-to-use portions," advises Harald Seitz, nutritionist at aid infodienst. It's very difficult, for example, to divide up vegetables which have frozen into a large lump, or to separate a single portion from a large block of frozen stew. Much easier to do the reverse and combine several smaller portions if you need to serve more people.

Storage times, sorting and keeping track of freezer contents

The maximum storage time depends on factors like fat content and texture and varies between a month (eg, raw dough, smoked fish) and one to two years (eg, many types of fruit and vegetables. If you're storing bought-in frozen products, check the packaging for storage times. If you're freezing your own produce, don't forget to label each pack with the contents, amount and date. It's a good idea to divide up your freezer space so that you store, for example, vegetables and fruit in one drawer, baked goods and ready meals in another and so on.

 

If you keep a list of freezer contents, you'll know what's in there without having to open it up and search around. Keeping the freezer closed saves energy. You could also record the number of portions and cross off however many you take out.

 

Source: Ute Gomm, Eva Neumann, www.aid.de