To freeze or not to freeze? That is the question.
Items to Freeze
Ingredients that contain naturally occurring fats, like the germ in whole grain flours and whole grains like cornmeal or brown rice have a chance of becoming rancid. Because we as consumers don’t know how long that ingredient has been sitting on a grocery stores shelf, I like to take care of those wonderful ingredients so they will last a long time at my house. Because of this, I store whole grain flours, whole grain cornmeal, nuts, seeds, and wheat germ in my freezer.
If you go through whole grain flour, whole grains, nuts, seeds and wheat germ quickly and you use them often then leaving them in your pantry is okay. The exception is ground flaxseed, that needs to be stored in the fridge or freezer, never the pantry. I also store whole grains like brown rice, japonica rice, spelt, and farro in my freezer as well.
Oils can also go rancid. If you don’t go through an opened bottle of oil within three months think about buying smaller bottles.
Fresh Strawberries –If you rinse and air dry your strawberries they can be frozen for longevity.
Basil – processed in oil – is great in the freezer. Basil can go from wonderful to awful quite quickly. I like to whirl them up (stems and all) in a food processor with some oil, Then I spoon that into ice cube trays and freeze. I add them frozen into soups, sauces and stews.
Garlic – processed with oil –can also go in the freezer. There is a risk of botulism when you store raw garlic in oil, so I recommend that you use any fresh salad dressing with raw garlic right away and never to store it in the fridge. Some sites say 1-2 days, I like to err on the side of caution. I puree peeled garlic in oil and freeze it in ice cube trays for a quick and easy way to add garlic when I’m cooking. I never use this thawed as is. It needs to be added to a recipe that gets cooked.
Ginger can be frozen in pieces. Grate it frozen when needed.
Egg whites can be frozen separately, never with the yolk.
Egg yolks can be frozen separately, never with the whites. Cover with water before you freeze so they don’t become rubbery. Drain before you use them.
Previously frozen meat, fish, pork or poultry should ideally stay out of the freezer. I don’t like the texture of the refrozen and then rethawed protein. Technically, as long as the protein was thawed in the fridge you can refreeze it. If you thawed that protein on the counter, (which is a no no in the food safety world), cook it right away, and never refreeze.
Raw kale or spinach can be frozen without blanching, but it only lasts about 2-3 weeks without deteriorating too much. You can use frozen kale in smoothies. To freeze: rinse, air dry, chop, and freeze. Seal well.
Grated cheese can be frozen. Whole cheese that has been frozen tends to get crumbly.
Unsalted butter can live in the freezer. Simply cut the pound package into usable ¼ cup or ½ cup pieces, wrap in parchment paper or foil, and freeze. Because salt is a preservative, unsalted butter does not last as long in your fridge. It can become moldy in the fridge. We don’t go through a lot of butter, so I always freeze it.
A bag of spaghetti sauce can live in the fridge for up to 3 days. Freeze flat so it takes up less room in your freezer.
Items to Refrigerate
Chocolate dipped strawberries – never go in the fridge or freezer. If you try to freeze them, when they thaw the strawberries will be mushy. If you store them in the fridge the chocolate will be sweaty when you serve them. Also, cold chocolate and cold strawberries are not as flavourful as room temperature chocolate and berries. Make them, let them set and serve them that day to cheers and applause.
Raw peppers should go in the fridge in the crisper.
Cooked peppers should go in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer.
Whole eggs should go in their carton and on the bottom shelf (the coldest part of your fridge)
Milk goes in the fridge, but milk can be frozen. It isn’t the best as a beverage because the fats separate, but in baking, it would be fine.
Mayo should always go in the fridge, never freeze. If you froze it. It would separate out when it thaws.
Kale and Spinach can stay in the fridge.
Cheese can stay in the fridge.
Freezer Tip: Don’t block the fan in your freezer and don’t overpack. You want air flow to keep things equally frozen.
To tell if there was a power outage when you were away. Keep a sealed bag of a couple of ice cubes. If they melted and refroze, they will be a weird shape when they refroze. Or a popsicle in a separate bag. The same rule applies. If the power did go out a full freezer should be okay for 48 hours, a less full one for 24 hours. I keep ice packs on the door to help keep everything cold if the power went out as well.
Are freezer bags worth the cost? Yes, you want to keep that cold air away from the food, so the food doesn’t dry out. Freezer bags are thicker, so it reduces the chances of the food becoming dehydrated. Don’t have any freezer bags? Double bag or wrap in parchment paper or foil first and then a regular plastic bag. Old milk bags are great as freezer bags.
Can you reuse a freezer bag? Yes, but from a food safety point of view, I never reuse a bag that had raw protein in it. I just not 100% sure that you could wash out all the raw bacteria.
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