Sticking to a healthy diet is easier when you have a freezer. Freezing fresh foods have a plethora of benefits. Not only is it good for your wallet, but freezing also helps to prevent sensitive nutrients from being destroyed during transportation and storing.
Freezing fresh foods reduces food waste, as well. Now, during a pandemic, many people have stocked up on a variety of foods. Obviously, food waste increases, and who wants to throw away food? Below are some tips on how to freeze fresh foods to prevent waste:
1. Freeze anything left on the table
Fruit and veggies have a relatively short life so if anything left on the table is about to start rotting, freeze it. Be they kiwi fruits, strawberries, bananas, or even tomatoes or cucumbers, freeze them before they go squishy.
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Even if some fruit or veggies have already started rotting, remove the spoiled parts, cut or slice, and place in the freezer. You might use them later in your smoothies or soups or stews.
Besides fruit and veggies, you can freeze leftover dairy products like milk. You can easily add that milk to your scrambled eggs or baked goods. Soft cheese isn’t recommended to freeze as it changes the texture in the freezer.
2. Be careful with special offers
It might be so tempting to buy foods on special offer – especially if you’re trying to save on food. The general rule is don’t purchase more produce than you can eat. If you have a large freezer, you can ignore the rule.
Purchase large quantities of your favorite foods and freeze them in smaller portions for future use. Some foods can be stored in the freezer for about a year. If you buy a lot of fruit and veggies or meat and fish, you can cut them and freeze them in small portions. You can even mix meat and veggies for a quicker stew or soup in the future.
3. Blanch fresh vegetables before freezing
This will help to suppress the nutrient loss and preserve the texture, color, and flavor of vegetables. There are two ways to blanch vegetables: steaming or boiling. (1) When it comes to steaming, it’s important to not over steam your veggies.
Ideally, steaming veggies for 2 to 6 minutes, depending on the veggie, is enough. Make sure you place your steamed veggies in the bowl of ice water before draining and placing them in the freezer. Boiling is an alternative to steaming, but there’s a huge difference between these two processes.
For instance, carrots should be boiled for 5 minutes and steamed for 8 minutes. Overblanching can lower the nutrient profile of the veggie while underblanching can promote the enzyme activity and ruin the flavor, texture, or color of the veggie.
4. Freeze fruit correctly
Wash fruit and berries, pat dry, and place on a baking sheet, leaving some space between them. Put them into the freezer and leave for a few hours. Transfer your frozen berries and fruit to freezer-friendly storage containers and freeze them for up to a year.
5. Puree before freezing
Ripe or overripe fruit and veggies like avocado, mango, and banana can be pureed before freezing. If you freeze them whole, they can become extremely mushy when thawed.
If you mash and freeze avocado, add a half tablespoon of lemon or lime juice to it. (2) You can later use it in your smoothies, dips, and guacamole. Pureed mango and banana can be used in smoothies and baking.
6. Label your containers
The FDA recommends storing frozen meals, such as cooked meat dishes and soups, for 2 to 3 months. (3) Cooked fish might be stored in the freezer for 4 to 6 months while raw fatty fish can last for 2 to 3 months and lean fish for 6 to 8 months. Date your containers so that you know when you should use or throw away a certain food item or meal.
7. Avoid freezer burn
If you want your frozen foods to last longer and stay healthier, be sure to prevent freezer burn. It happens when the cold air dries out the food in the freezer. Wrap your food in foil or place it in an air-tight container. It’s critical to eliminate any air from the wrapping or container to avoid freezer burn.
Don’t use single-use containers as they’re not moisture-vapor resistant and they don’t have airtight seals. This is particularly important for freezing both raw and cooked meat and meat products. Freezer bags are safer alternatives to single-use containers.
The final word
Freezing definitely prevents food waste, but you need to get ready for this process. Keep freezer-friendly containers handy and learn about food expiration dates of frozen foods. Freezing fresh foods will help you save some money and make your grocery haul last.