To freeze or not to freeze?
Take the guesswork out of freezing food with our guide that will have you saving time, money and effort in the kitchen.
Top 10 freezing tips
Whether you have a chest or upright freezer, the principles of successful freezing are the same.
- Cool foods before you freeze them. Freezing food when hot will only increase the temperature of the freezer and could cause other foods to start defrosting.
- Never re-freeze anything that's been frozen. Even if the food was frozen raw and then cooked, to be extra safe it still shouldn't be re-frozen.
- A full freezer is more economical to run as the cold air doesn't need to circulate so much, so less power is needed. If you have lots of space free, fill plastic bottles half full with water and use them to fill gaps. Alternatively, fill the freezer with everyday items you're bound to use, such as sliced bread or frozen peas.
- It's a wrap. Make sure you wrap foods properly or put them in sealed containers, otherwise your food can get freezer-burn.
- Portion control. Freeze food in realistically sized portions. You don't want to have to defrost a stew big enough to feed eight when you're only feeding a family of three.
'Buy a blue marker for raw foods and a red marker for cooked foods and label the food clearly.'
- If in doubt, throw it out Contrary to what many people think, freezing doesn't kill bacteria. If you are unsure of how long something has been frozen or are a bit wary of something once defrosted, don't take any chances.
- Stay fresh. You get out what you put in as freezing certailny won't improve the quality of your food. Don't freeze old food because you don't want to waste it; the point of freezing is to keep food as its prime.
- Friendly labels. It may seem a bother at the time, but unless you label you might not remember what it is, let alone when it was frozen. Buy a blue marker for raw foods and a red marker for cooked foods. You don't have to write an essay, just label the food clearly. You can use big-lettered abbreviations, for example a big red P means cooked pork or a blue F means raw fish. And always add the date it was frozen.
- Defrosting is a must. An icy freezer is an inefficient one, so make sure you defrost your freezer if ice builds up. Don't worry about the food; most things will remain frozen in the fridge for a couple of house while the freezer defrosts.
- In an emergency if there has been a power cut or you think the freezer has been turned off at some point, don't open the door. Foods should remain frozen in the freezer for about 24 hours, leaving you time to get to the bottom of the problem.