When it comes to using your freezer as a stockpile tool it is important to know how to properly store food for freezing. Most of the information I share will come from my personal experience as well as two of my favorite freezer articles, “Freezing and Food Safety” by the USDA and “The Ultimate Guide to Freezing Food” by the Former Fat Guy Blog
When storing food for freezing it is most important to protect the food from air. Air will create ice crystals on the food that will reduce the quality and flavor. The best way to store food for freezing is to use air tight containers.
Labeling foods is also helpful. Use a permanent marker and note what it is, the date you froze it and you could also mark the date by which it should be used for best taste and quality. For frozen meal items I also mark any special baking or thawing directions.
Freezer Bags: I like to use Freezer Ziploc bags. A Freezer bag is designed with thicker plastic and a stronger seal to prevent air reaching the food. They can be purchased using sales and coupons to keep costs down and can be thrown away. I especially like freezer bags for freezing raw meats, and chopped fruits, veggies, left overs and cookie dough. To make filling bags easier you can use a tall cup or vase, place the bag inside with the opening folded over the lip of the cup/vase. Fill with the cut up fruits, veggies or even liquids. Pull from cup/vase squeeze out air carefully try to prevent any food from getting on the closure area. Zip tightly and store individually in freezer until frozen. After the item is frozen, usually over night, you can then stack them.
Glass: Glass baking dishes can be used when freezing casseroles or other dinner items just be careful when removing not to drop on your foot. It really hurts! Some of my favorite glass baking dishes came with lids. When I use them in the freezer I always use plastic wrap or foil over the food first then add the lid.
Plastic containers: Plastic containers can be purchased specifically for freezing. These are great for soups, sauces and jams as they maintain a rigid shape while pouring the liquids in. With freezing in glass or plastic containers it is important to leave room for expansion.
Freeze as is: Some foods can be frozen right from the store. If you are freezing bread items, including tortillas, be sure there are no holes in the bags they came in and double knot the opening then put it right in the freezer. Yoplait Go Gurts, Capri Sun, fruit juice boxes, candy bars (Oh, yeah I do freeze candy! Cadbury Mini eggs, Rollos, Hershey’s bars when they are on sale I stock up), hot dogs, yogurt cups, bacon, prepackaged deli meats, shredded cheese and some meat from your butcher block can go right in like roasts. If you buy meats in bulk however I do recomend freezing in portion sizes that you will likely use.
DO NOT FREEZE carbonated drinks they will explode. I have remnants of a frozen Coke accident on the roof of my mini van! DO NOT FREEZE canned foods.
Cans frozen accidentally, such as those left in a car or basement in sub-zero temperatures, can present health problems. If the cans are merely swollen — and you are sure the swelling was caused by freezing — the cans may still be usable. Let the can thaw in the refrigerator before opening. If the product doesn’t look and/or smell normal, throw it out. DO NOT TASTE IT! If the seams have rusted or burst, throw the cans out immediately, wrapping the burst can in plastic and disposing the food where no one, including animals can get it. ( “Freezing and Food Safety” by the USDA)
Coming up next in this Freezer Food Storage Series: ways to organize your freezer and how long things can be frozen.