October 13th, 2011Around the House, Keep It SimpleMelinda 0 Comments

Freezing food and meals is both time-saving and economical. There’s nothing better than coming home from work and having yummy gluten free dinner just waiting to be heated up. Here are some tips to help your frozen food taste fresh along the way.

FREEZER TEMPERATURE:
The optimal temperature of your home freezer is 0 degrees to negative 10.  If you do not have a specific temperature adjustment on your freezer or deep freeze, invest in a freezer thermometer.  To improve air circulation and to keep a low temperature, remove unwanted clutter in your freezer by clearing out old food. This will help things stay frozen and prevent freezer burn. Also keeping food away from freezer vents will help with the circulation.

COOLING:
Completely cool dinners, stocks and sauces for at least 2 hours before putting them in the freezer. Any residual heat will cause condensation and a layer of frost to form on the top. This will effect the flavor upon reheating.  Also, the temperature will quickly rise if you add anything warm to the freezer, this can cause freezer burn in the other foods.

STORING:
Wrap baking dishes tightly with foil then with plastic wrap before freezing. Use airtight, small containers, leaving very little air between the packaging and the food. Using small containers guarantee that the food will freeze faster. Liquids, like thin soups and stocks, will need an inch of room since they expand when they freeze. Use freezer quality products, which will help your food from absorbing other smells in your freezer. Wrap baked goods, like muffins, in aluminum foil and then into freezer bags. Let pancakes cool completely then stack between layers of parchment and place in a freezer bag. For the best quality, store poultry for 6-9 months, beef 3-4 months, fish between 3-6, and fruits and vegetables for 8-12 months.

REHEATING INSTRUCTIONS:
For casseroles and prepared dishes let defrost in the refrigerator the night before you want to reheat it. Unwrap it and loosely cover with foil. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake until the center of the casserole reaches 160 degrees. For large 13×9 casseroles, this should take about 35 minutes. Smaller dishes a little less.  If you freeze in single serve sizes, they can often be reheated in the microwave from frozen, just like a purchased meal.

For soups, stews, and sauces, defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat in a saucepan on the stovetop. You can also defrost in the microwave. Just check every minute or so to make sure you aren’t overcooking and to give it a stir.

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