What can I put in my freezer?

Best food to freeze

You can freeze virtually any sort of food, but some types of food stand up to this treatment better than others.

Best of all are cooked dishes, such as stews, puréed fruits, sauces, soups and stock. Fresh meat and fish freeze well, but will suffer from some deterioration in texture. Most fresh vegetables have to be blanched (plunged into boiling water for three or so minutes then cooled rapidly in cold water), before freezing.  Similarly, most fruits have to be cooked, or partially cooked, before freezing; some berries, however, (such as raspberries, blackberries and blueberries) can be frozen raw by first arranging them separately on a tray in the freezer, then packing them loosely in bags or boxes once frozen.

Bread freezes well; sliced bread separates easily when frozen, so can go straight from the freezer into the toaster – a useful way to keep bread fresh when your consumption is moderate.

Less good

Some vegetables that are eaten raw (such as lettuce, cucumbers, cress and radishes) are unsuitable for freezing at all: they just become limp and soggy. Boiled or baked potatoes turn crumbly and floury. Milk sauces and cream may separate or go lumpy with freezing.

Containers and bags

Plastic containers with tight-fitting lids work best for foods with a high liquid content. Remember to leave at least half an inch at the top, as water expands when frozen. You can freeze cooked dishes in glass or pottery dishes: be aware, though, that the contents won't be easy to remove until thawed.

Use containers of a moderate size (up to 5 litres, or 8 pints): the freezing process may not be able to reach the heart of larger containers packed with food, and in any case you will have to thaw the entire contents to use just a part.

Plastic freezer bags (available in rolls in supermarkets) are a cheap and effective way of storing both solids and liquids; they can be easily sealed with the wire twist tie that comes with them.

Aluminium foil can also be used to wrap items for the freezer.

Keeping a record

Remember to write on each container or bag (with a permanent felt-tip pen, or a sticky label) both what it contains, and the date of freezing. It is amazing how difficult it is to identify unlabelled frozen food: is this meat stew, or plum compote?

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