A freezer guide to Christmas

Get on top of your festive feasting with our advice on what to stash away and how long it will keep.

The sheer volume of food on the agenda at Christmas means the margin for waste increases - along with the pressure to execute an array of meals across the festive period. Whether you want to get ahead by making certain dishes in advance, or have a pile of leftovers to grapple with, our cookery team has put together a guide on how to freeze your way through Christmas. 

What to freeze...

StuffingUncooked stuffing

Freeze for: Three months

How to wrap:  Shape into walnut-sized balls, then open-freeze on a tray lined with baking parchment. When frozen, transfer to a plastic food bag.

How to defrost:  Bake from frozen, adding 10 mins to the cooking time. Ensure they are hot through to the centre before serving.

Cranberry sauce
Homemade sauces (including cranberry and bread sauces)

Freeze for: Three months

How to wrap:  Once cooled, transfer to plastic food bags, seal firmly and freeze in a flat layer on a baking tray. Once frozen, remove the tray and put the sauces back into the freezer.

How to defrost: Place the bag in a bowl of lukewarm water until defrosted, then reheat until piping hot.
 

HerbsFresh herbs: 

Freeze for: Two months

How to wrap: Finely chop soft herbs and place in ice cube trays, top up with water and freeze. Woody herbs can be frozen whole in plastic food bags. Tie rosemary, bay leaves and parsley stems together to create bouquet garnis.

How to defrost: Use from frozen.
 

EggsEgg whites

Freeze for: Six months

How to wrap: Place in plastic food bags and freeze in a flat layer (see homemade sauces, above). Label with the quantity of egg whites.

How to defrost: At room temperature


milkMilk (skimmed and semi-skimmed only)

Freeze for: Three months

How to wrap:  Freeze in the container, but pour off roughly 2.5cm milk first as it will expand in the freezer.

How to defrost: Overnight in the fridge. 


Puff pastryPuff and shortcrust pastry

How to freeze: Two months

How to wrap: Pat into a flat disc, wrap tightly in cling film, then in foil.

How to defrost: Overnight in the fridge.


BreadBread

Freeze for: One month

How to wrap: Place in a large food bag or wrap well in cling film.

How to defrost: Defrost at room temperature. A whole loaf will take about 5 hrs. Rolls, bagels, pitta and baguettes will take about 2 hrs. You can cook baguettes and rolls from frozen, wrapped in foil. Pitta and thinly-sliced bread can also be toasted from frozen.

 

SausagesRaw processed meats (including sausages, bacon and mince)

Freeze for: Three months

How to wrap: Freeze in the packaging or transfer to plastic food bags. Freeze bacon in 3-4 rasher packs – perfect for bacon sandwiches.

How to defrost: Overnight in the fridge.
 

Raw meatRaw whole meat portions

Freeze for: Six months 

How to wrap:  Wrap individual portions in cling film, then transfer to a large food bag.

How to defrost: Overnight in the fridge.


StewCooked stews, vegetables and soups

Freeze for: Three months

How to wrap:  Freeze in plastic containers or bags; ensure any chunks of meat are well covered by liquid.

How to defrost: Overnight in the fridge or place container in lukewarm water until defrosted. Heat until piping hot.
 

PrawnsRaw fish fillets, prawns and scallops

Freeze for: Four months 

How to wrap: Wrap individual fish fillets in cling film, then transfer to a large food bag. Freeze prawns and scallops (in or out of their shells) in plastic food bags.

How to defrost: Overnight in the fridge.
 

MusselsCooked mussels and crabmeat

Freeze for: Two months

How to wrap: Once cooked and cooled, remove meat from shells and freeze in plastic food bags.

How to defrost: Overnight in the fridge.
 

MashMash, gratins or roast potatoes

Freeze for: Four months 

How to wrap: Once cooked and cooled, freeze mash in tubs, gratins in freezeproof baking dishes and open-freeze roast potatoes on a tray until frozen solid, then tip into food bags.

How to defrost:  Cook roast potatoes from frozen, but defrost mash and gratins overnight in the fridge.

To freeze?

Filo pastry
It can be frozen but dries out very quickly and becomes harder to work with. YES if you’re scrunching on top of a fish pie (like our filo-topped fish pie). NO if you’re using to make parcels or samosas.

Cream
It can be frozen, but once defrosted, the texture can become grainy. YES if you’re freezing small amounts that can be splashed into a sauce. NO to whole tubs.

Cheese
Although most pack information says YES, we say NO if it’s for a cheeseboard, YES if it’s for cooking.

FreezerWhat is freezer burn?

Food that has not been covered properly during freezing will dry out and turn white in patches. Freezer burn may affect the quality of the food, but it is still safe to eat.
 

Good to know...

  • The recommendations above are for a three-star rating freezer, which should be kept at -18C. If your freezer is kept at a higher temperature, food will deteriorate faster.
  • It’s important to label frozen foods with the contents and date they were frozen. Sticky labels often come unstuck in the freezer, so pop labels inside the food bag.
  • Never refreeze frozen food (unless it’s been cooked into another dish) – this can encourage bacteria to multiply to dangerous levels.

More advice on freezing food: 

How to get ahead at Christmas

Top tips for freezing food

Video guide to freezing fruit and vegetables

Freezable recipes

 

 

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