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How To Freeze Foods

15 August 2016 Recipes, Tips & Tricks

Passagem Gastronômica - Como Congelar Alimentos

My mother is the person that makes the most use of the freezer that I know! I always remember her organising the freezer with portions of fruits, dishes and meats (she has great tips on how to freeze foods). The freezer is a great ally to avoid waste and to always have something handy to eat at a meal. For many years the frozen products had a very negative image in the culinary community. Many claimed that the texture of the product ended up different, that it lost its freshness and flavor. But recently this negative view has changed. The New York Times published an article a while back talking about it. Many chefs now use the freezer as an ally, even stating that the products are still fresher than if kept in the refrigerator for a few days. When I did an internship at the Ledbury in London, I remember the chef receiving the fresh lobster, blanching it quickly and freezing to use the next day. He said that the lobster was fresher frozen than if left in the fridge until the next day.

I'm a super fan of the freezer, since it helps me organize meals at home without having to go to the supermarket constantly. Also, it is ideal to enjoy the peak flavour of some ingredients, like tomatoes in the summer that are infinitely tastier than in winter (and many times even cheaper). So, I usually cook a large amount of tomato sauce in the warm months and freeze in various containers to defrost in the coming months.

Some tips on how to freeze foods are valuable:

1. To store the ingredients in the freezer the ideal is to use plastic containers – the glass can expand and burst – and do not overfill it. Another great option are the zip-lock style bags that are more compact and take up less space.

2. Always write in the containers with a permanent marker or stronger label avoiding it to unstick when the surface freezes. Put the date and indicate the ingredient/dish inside. It makes it much easier to find what you're looking for later on.

3. When freezing fruits like strawberries, blueberries the best is to spread the fruits on a baking sheet, freeze and then move them to a container. This way they do not form a block of fruit and is easier to defrost just the amount desired. The same goes for cheese bread or vegetables like broccoli.

4. When freezing steaks wrap each one individually in plastic wrap and freeze separately. So you can get individual portions when cooking, without having to try defrosting everything at once.

5. Once defrosted do not freeze again! Each product/plate should be defrosted only once.

6. Don't overfill the freezer, because that prevents the freezer to keep the temperature to stop the growth of micro-organisms that spoil food.

7. To better preserve the texture, color and flavor of the vegetables the best is partially blanching it and colling it in ice water before freezing.

8. When defrosting do not use hot water, because this changes the texture and the taste of food. The ideal is to allow defrosting in the fridge or in the kitchen counter.

9. Some foods don't freeze very well such as: vegetables with high percentage of water (like cucumber and lettuce); milk and its derivatives; sauce and egg based sauces.

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