Have you ever bought a loaf of bread and couldn't finish the whole thing in time and it went moldy? Or have you ever seen a sale on bakery items but thought, " oh I won't use that up in time before it expires. Never mind." Or have you ever made a huge helping of spaghetti sauce or Chicken Alfredo and thought," what do I do with all these leftovers? We can't finish all this in a week..." Then welcome to freezing!
Here are the first steps for getting into the wonderful world of freezing.
1) Get good Tupperware...ones that say you can put them in the freezer and thick ones, not flimsy ones you get at the dollar tree. The food you store in them will keep longer and have less of a chance of getting freezer burn, quicker.
2) Buy freezer bags. Don't use ones that are not for freezer use or, hello freezer burn.
3) If you don't have the freezer space, invest in a chest freezer. This will help you a lot with setting up your kitchen for winter surpluses and for freezing garden surpluses.
4) Have masking tape and a marker to write the item contents and date on each Tupperware.
Now that you have all this fun stuff, you can start freezing! Here's a list of what you can freeze.
1) Breads-includes all breads (hamburger buns, Beagles, sliced bread etc.) If it's a fruit based bread like: banana, apple, pumpkin, I recommend you wrap the cooled bread in aluminum foil first, then place in a freezer bag.
2) Dairy Products, such as: Ricotta (consistency might be a little waterier) but it's great for lasagna, butter (left in packaging), cheeses (left in packaging), and cream cheese (watery consistency but great for baking and cooking purposes). To do this, just pop in the freezer as is or separate packages and freeze in bags (for instance; you bought a big package of sliced Swiss cheese at Sams Club and need portions broken down because no one is going to go through 50 slices of Swiss in a month. )
3) Dinners-you can freeze basically all dinners but if it's a dinner that should have noodles (like Chicken Alfredo or spaghetti) leave the noodles out. The freezing will change the consistency of the noodles to mush and that's not yummy. Just Freeze the sauce. Also, dinners that contain potatoes don't freeze too well if the potatoes are formed. If the potatoes are mashed like in Potato and Bacon Soup, then by all means, freeze! but if they are in chunks, the consistency might be a little mushy. But it will still taste good :)
4) Veggies- Some veggies need to be blanched first, like fresh green beans, or snap peas. But some veggies are just fine washed, towel dried and frozen in a single layer on a baking sheet then popped into the freezer ( like my celery blog entry states ) and then added to freezer bags. The Veggies you can do just that, are: whole tomatoes, sliced or quartered peppers, sliced or grated zucchini, and cut up butternut squash. Those are the veggies I've tried and tested and they work out great!
5) Fruits- some fruits should be put in a mixture of lemon juice and water to preserve them better in the freezer. This is usually done with peaches and apricots since they are so high in acidic properties. To do this, just slice up the peaches or apricots, skins and all, place in a Tupperware and add a Tablespoon of lemon juice and fill with water to cover fruit and freeze. Then there are some fruits that can just be washed, dried and lined on a baking sheet to freeze individually then popped into freezer bags. This list includes: Bananas, Strawberries,Blueberries, Cherries, Blackberries, and Raspberries.
6) Fruit and Veggie Based Sauces- This list includes: Applesauce, homemade or jarred Tomato sauce, cooked pumpkin puree, cooked butternut puree, and Tomato Paste. To do this, place the contents in a Tupperware and label. That's it!
7) Stocks- Veggie, chicken, rabbit, and turkey stock. To do this, measure out the cooled stock in a large measuring cup and ladle with a funnel into small freezer baggies. Label and date, as well as listing the cup amount. Stand up on a freezer door to help it freeze without spilling over.
8) Baked Goods-Whole frozen pies (I've only done apple), cookies, muffins, cakes, homemade rice crispy treats, fudge, scones, chocolate chips, and brownies.
9) Raw Dough- pizza dough, bread machine dough (any kind) and cookie dough. To do this, wrap the dough in plastic wrap individually, then place in a freezer bag and label.
10) Herbs- Dried herbs. After drying your herbs from the garden by placing on paper towels or hang drying, place the herbs in a freezer bag and label.
11) Meat- Any meat, raw, place in freezer bags. Cooked meats such as: shredded chicken, hamburger meat, place in Tupperware and label. Sausage and Bacon can be frozen in its package.
12) Misc Items: Dried fruits (left in package), baking yeast (left in package then in baggie), coffee (in package or in baggie), nuts(baggie or left in package), gravies (Tupperware), whole raw eggs (Tupperware), washed veggie scraps (baggie)and bones for stocks (baggie).
If you'd like to keep a freezer inventory, check out this link! Thank you Debbie for your comment email :)
So as you can see, there is plenty you can freeze and save for later! Any questions about freezing, please leave a comment at the bottom and I'll be sure to respond, happy freezing friends!