Skills: Freezing foods
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Freezing foods for future use is the easiest way to preserve foods.  One way I take advantage of my deep freezers is to cook larger quantities of food when I have more time, and freeze the extra for another meal.   Just remember to seal well and label.  I keep an inventory sheet inside one of my kitchen cupboards, so I know what is available.

 

What can be frozen?  Just about everything. I freeze lots of things: cookie dough (just thaw, scoop and bake), candy, nuts, flours and even potato and corn chips (to keep them fresh), leftover vegetables and meats for soups, and chunks of fruit for our breakfast smoothies.  You can even freeze tomatoes whole, rinse in cold water to peel, let thaw 3 minutes, core, chop, cook. Simple, easy, fast.

 

For high quality frozen foods, start with high quality fresh food. Freezing will retain quality, but cannot improve it.

 

Choose packaging materials that will prevent air contact with the food and moisture loss from it. For semi-fluid foods, use rigid plastic or wide-mouth glass containers made for freezing and canning. For more solid foods, you can use freezer bags, heat-sealable bags, coated freezer paper or extra heavy-duty aluminum foil. You can reuse plastic containers originally used for frozen foods if you can clean them thoroughly. Rigid containers can hold most foods. These containers are re-usable and are easy to stack.  These materials help prevent freezer burn and the breakdown of textures in frozen foods; they also prevent color and flavor changes. Moisture loss, or ice crystals evaporating from the surface of a product, produces freezer burn--a grainy, brownish spot where the tissues become dry and tough. Freezer-burned food is likely to develop off flavors, but it will not cause illness.

 

 Do not reuse paper cartons that originally held milk, cottage cheese or similar products, bread wrappers, regular aluminum foil; or waxed paper because they do not provide effective protection against flavor and moisture loss or freezer burn during long-term storage.

 

Keep an inventory of food in the freezer to help you know what is readily available. As long as food is kept solidly frozen, it will not become unsafe to eat. But it will lose quality during extended storage--nutrients, flavors and appearance will decline.

 

Throughout the year, I cube and freeze extra seasonal fresh fruits for easy breakfast smoothies.  The following recipe takes moments to create.

 

Frozen Fruit Smoothie

Yield: 4 servings

5 c cubed frozen fruit of choice (or freeze juice in ice cube trays)

-3/4 c white grape juice or orange juice

c plain non-fat yogurt

2 T soy protein powder (opt)

 

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. 

 

 

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