Quick Tips For Freezing A Variety Of Food Items
Here’s a tipsheet loaded with information for freezing a variety of food items (butter, cheese, bananas and more). You’ll also find a tip at the bottom of the page for using an empty can as a funnel (for packing sauces, chili, soups, etc.) and a bunch of vintage quick tips. Lots here, enjoy!
How to: Keep wrapped in its original packaging and pack in sealed bags (air removed). You could also wrap the blocks in a layer of aluminum foil instead of using bags.
The extra packaging probably isn’t absolutely necessary since the original foil wrapping does a great job, but I prefer the extra step just-in-case.
To thaw: Take out a block the night before you need it and allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature. You’ll find better results this way.
Storage time: Can be frozen successfully six to nine months, though I’ve found a few references stating it’s fine for up to a year.
Tip: Freeze it as soon as possible rather than wait until it’s close to the expiry date.
Once they’re too ripe to eat, don’t throw them out…you can freeze bananas in a number of ways:
- Peel then place whole in a bag
- Leave the peel on and freeze in a bag
- Mash when ripe and place the mash in a sealed container to freeze
Hard and semi-hard cheeses such as cheddar, mozzarella and swiss can be frozen with good results but softer ones such as cottage cheese and ricotta will have trouble with the cream separating and changes in texture once they’re thawed. If you plan on using for baking or dishes like casseroles, the changes won’t be that noticeable.
Keep in mind the shelf life dwindles once thawed so it’s best to cut them into smaller pieces before freezing (about 1/2 pound).
- Wrap each piece well with plastic wrap then pack into air tight containers or bags. Remove as much air as possible before packing.
- For varieties such as Parmesan and Asiago, shred or grate first and pack in sealed bags or airtight containers.
- Most cheeses can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Thaw in refrigerator rather than at room temperature.
- Once thawed many cheeses will likely be crumbly but the taste will still be good and they’ll be fine in cooked dishes such as casseroles.
Corn On The Cob
Take advantage of this season’s crop of corn by buying in bulk at your local market (if you haven’t grown your own) and freeze them to serve and enjoy over the long winter months.
Here’s how to do it…
- For best results, select good quality ears that aren’t too large–small and medium sizes freeze better with less flavor and texture loss than larger cobs.
- Remove husks and all silks then blanch corn in boiling water for 7 to 10 minutes depending on size (Midget: 7 min.; Small: 8 min.; Medium: 10 min.; Source).
- Submerge in very cold water immediately after blanching to stop the cooking process (for about 15 minutes to ensure it’s thoroughly chilled).
- Remove cobs from water and drain thoroughly (stand them upright in a colander to drain).
- Wrap individual ears in freezer paper or plastic wrap then pack in freezer bags, label and date then pack away.
If you prefer corn kernels removed from the cob first:
Clean, blanch in boiling water and chill as directed above, but blanch for only 4 to 5 minutes. Remove kernels from the cob once fully chilled and drained. Try a shoe horn for easy kernel removal by using the wide part to push from the top of the cob down. You can also use a chef’s knife to slice the kernels off (read directions here from Martha Stewart).
To Cook: You can drop frozen cobs in salted boiling water and cook till heated through, but I find results are best when thawing first and then steaming, roasting or boiling them for a few minutes until heated through.
One way to deal with an overabundance of zucchini is to freeze it for year round use (works great for baking), and it isn’t as fussy or time consuming as you might think!
Here’s a quick and easy way to do it:
- Shred all the zucchini (can be peeled or unpeeled).
- Measure in one or two cup amounts and pack in freezer bags, removing as much air as possible from the bag before sealing.
- Mark the date and amount on the bag then store in the freezer.
Tip: If you prefer cubed form, first blanch the cubes in boiling water for a couple minutes before packing (peeled or unpeeled). Works well for vegetable medleys, lasagna, etc.
Start with fully ripe fruit. Be sure to choose ones that are slightly soft to the touch, a yellow-orange in color, and have a fragrant odor of ripe pineapples. The eyes should be flat, almost hollow.
- Hold the fruit with one hand and with the other slowly grasp the top, twisting to remove the prickly leaf section. This will come out easily when firmly twisted. For tender hands, wear gloves.
- Cut the fruit in 1/2-inch slices and then trim off outside edges and eyes. Remove centers with tiny cookie cutter or center from doughnut cutter. Leave in slices or cut in pieces, as desired.
- Fill containers, leaving 1/2-inch head space; cover with syrup solution made with 2 cups sugar mixed into 4 cups cold water, stir till dissolved. Chill. You’ll need about 1 cup syrup per quart.
Source: This was a clipping found in my vintage household notebook.
If you have part of a bell pepper left over from a recipe and no other immediate use for it, just slice it into strips or dice (whichever you prefer), seal in a bag and freeze.
You can also freeze whole bell peppers:
- Simply wash well, slice off the top and remove seeds and membrane.
- I like to stuff it with a crumpled up ball of wax paper inside–seems to help fight the ice fuzzies that can form inside.
- Wrap the pepper in foil then put in bags (remove as much of the air as possible).
- When you take the pepper out to thaw, remove wax paper ball when still frozen.
You can also stuff them with a filling before freezing, here are several recipes to try (don’t add any sauce until ready to cook).
Handy Tool: Empty Can Funnel
Do you find funnels awkward to work with, especially when filling bags with sauces and soups? Here’s a smart tip sent in by Maria:
I make big batches of spaghetti sauce, chili and soups to freeze and store them in plastic freezer bags that seal shut since I can stack them flat and they take up less room in my small deep freeze.
I prefer using a funnel because I find there’s more control and bags fill cleanly with less splatter, but I always had some trouble with funnels, they took forever to fill the bags, sometimes got plugged or were awkward holding onto when filling with heavy meat sauces and chili. Here’s what I do now:
- Take an empty can and remove the lid from the other side so you have two open ends.
- Remove the label and wash the can out then sit it inside the freezer bag. Of course you want to be careful of the ends when washing since they’ll be sharp where the ends were removed. Pour the sauce into the can and once it’s getting full, lift the can up so the sauce falls out the bottom, making more room in the can to fill with more sauce.
- Once the bag is as full as you want it to be, remove the can, push out all the air and seal the bag.
- Move on to the next bag.
The empty can acts as a wide funnel and it’s a perfect size to use but it’s not awkward to work with since it sits up on its own and is easy to manage when holding with one hand. This makes bulk freezing sauces and soups a breeze, bags fill fast and no more plugged funnels!
Great tip Maria, thanks very much for sharing it with us! For more tips on bulk cooking, see Once A Month Cooking: Tips & Resources.
20 Quick Tips: Timeless Wisdom Collection
Here are 20 quick tips that I’ve collected from a variety of 1950s articles and books.
- Cream can be frozen for future use. Place enough cream for use at one time in glass freezing jars. Store no longer than 6 months.
- Butter and cheese may be wrapped in moisture-vapor-proof paper and stored for 6 to 9 months.
- For freezing eggs, separate yolks from whites. For whites, package and freeze. For yolks, add 2 tablespoons of sugar or 1 teaspoon of salt to each pint. Blend carefully with rotary beater but avoid whipping in air. Skim off any air bubbles from the surface before freezing to prevent crusting as well as prevent the eggs from becoming gummy when thawed. See this page for more details.
- Keep in mind to allow a headspace when packing all liquid foods to be frozen. Never aim to keep these foods too long in cold storage.
- Sandwiches: Wrap well and freeze up to 4 weeks, be aware that mayonnaise and jelly will soak into bread so use sparingly. You can add fresh lettuce and tomato slices after sandwich has thawed.
- Freeze nutmeats and coconut for baking.
- You can freeze crackers, bread crumbs, potato chips, pretzels in sealed bags.
- For best results, skim off as much excess fat as possible from soups, stews and gravies before packing away.
- Use spices and herbs sparingly when preparing dishes for freezing. Cloves, black pepper and garlic become stronger, onions lose flavor, nutmeg, cinnamon and sage remain about the same, celery flavor becomes more noticeable.
- Unbaked pies and cookies may be conveniently stored in freezer. When ready for use, cut vent in top crust and place the frozen pie in a preheated oven about 15 minutes extra baking time.
- Some butter-type cake batters may be frozen, freeze batters in the pan, ready for baking. Angel, chiffon, sponge and fruit cake should always be frozen after baking.
- Cakes do not freeze solidly and need extra protection during freezer storage. You’ll find it convenient to cut cakes into halves, quarters or slices before freezing.
- Keep a chart upon which mark each package of fruit, meat or vegetable as it is put into the freezer. Every time a package is taken out, it is crossed off the chart. This prevents having to dig through everything, only to discover that the package you have in mind already has been taken out.
- Pack fruits in small picnic cups and freeze, these come in handy for the lunchbox.
- Bread Dough: Prepare unbaked doughs for freezing after the first rising period. Shape dough for bread and place in loaf pan, grease well, wrap and freeze.
- Rolls: Shape rolls and coffeecakes into shapes for baking, grease well, quick-freeze on cookie sheet and wrap for storage after initial freezing. When ready to bake, thaw dough at room temperature and let rise until doubled in bulk; bake as usual.
- Partially Baked Rolls: Make your own “brown & serve” rolls by letting rolls rise only half as high as if they were to be baked completely; bake at 300° about 20 minutes, or until they are a very pale tan. Remove from pans, cool, package and freeze. When ready to serve, place frozen rolls on cookie sheet and brown in 400° oven 7-10 minutes.
- Unbaked Quick Breads: Use only recipes which call for double-action baking powder. Wrap and freeze batters in pans ready for baking; when ready to use, thaw and bake immediately. Frozen, unbaked baking powder biscuits need be only partially thawed before baking.
- Tomatoes don’t freeze well but tomato juice does! Wash, sort and trim firm, ripe tomatoes. Cut in quarters or eighths. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Strain. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart of juice. Pour into rigid freezer containers, leaving head space. Seal and freeze.
- Meats: Do not season meat with salt before freezing, it will become rancid. You can hasten the thawing of ground meat which has been frozen by sprinkling the amount of salt you want for seasoning over the top of the frozen meat.