Do you love to bake? If so, you might be like me, and some days just get into a manic bake-a-thon. I will bake breads, muffins, and cookies and then wonder, “how am I going to eat all of these?” This is why I have an extra freezer in my basement.
I find that baked goods freeze very well, especially if I double wrap them to avoid freezer burn. When I make banana bread, I will slice it and wrap it individually, so on busy days I can simply grab a slice when I am on the run.
Homemade applesauce is great to freeze; I usually store it in mason jars in my freezer. Nuts, seeds, chocolate, and flours can be frozen, especially in the summer months, when it is hot and humid—it saves the flours from going rancid and the chocolate from melting.
The other day, there was a sale on organic coffee beans, and even though I am not a coffee drinker, my husband is, so into the freezer it went. Every weekend, he can take out a small amount and grind it for his fresh morning coffee.
Dairy can be frozen, of course, including butter, margarine, and cheese. I slice the cheese before I freeze it, because it can get crumbly after it has been frozen and I tend to use previously frozen cheese only in cooking, not for sliced cheese and crackers. Cottage cheese doesn’t freeze that well; perhaps it is because of the higher water content.
Fruits are great to freeze. I wash them first, dry them, and then lay them on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer for an hour. This way, they freeze individually and don’t stick together. I then put them into small freezer bags.
Herbs and vegetables can be frozen, as well, and freezing them is a sure way to keep the nutrients intact. I love to buy a big bunch of basil, and if I don’t use it all in my pesto recipe, into the freezer it goes. I like to freeze herbs with the stems intact, but I know many people chop herbs and freeze them with a little water in an ice cube tray. Store the cubes in freezer bags and they are ready to be popped into soups or stews this way.
Ginger is another great food to freeze, as it can go moldy in the fridge if not used within a week or two. Peel and slice ginger into one-inch pieces, wrap in plastic, and place in a freezer bag for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature when you want to use it.
Foods You Shouldn’t Freeze
You should avoid freezing foods with high water content, such as celery, lettuce, cabbage, sprouts, onions, peppers. melons, grapefruit, custards, and yogurts.
Helpful Freezing Tips
• Wrap food well to avoid freezer burn and use good-quality freezer bags.
• Remove all the air in the freezer bag before sealing it.
• Remove meat from Styrofoam trays and rewrap it in freezer bags.
• Freeze foods in smaller amounts: the larger the amount, the more risk of freezer damage.
• Check the freezer temperature: it should be at least 64 ºF
•A general rule of thumb is not to freeze anything for longer than three–four months.
How to Thaw Food Properly
• Muffins, cakes, and cookies can be thawed on the counter.
• Meat, poultry, and vegetables need to be thawed in the fridge, to avoid growing bacteria.
• If you use a microwave to defrost, be sure to cook that item right away, as sometimes it can get cooked a bit while defrosting.
Shirley is the author of Finally…Food I Can Eat!, a dietary guide and cookbook for people with multiple food allergies. As a nutritionist, she enjoys helping people plan healthy menu plans within the confines of food allergies and dietary restrictions. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter, or at www.deliciousalternatives.com