In everyday cooking, most people want fresh and whole ingredients that are prepared in creative and delicious ways, in addition to being affordable, quickly made, and without using too many dishes.
While many people succeed in cooking such meals, they, unfortunately, fail to properly preserve them, especially during this hot season.
Well, the storage rules change as temperatures do, and to make your food last longer while staying fresh and healthy, you need to follow some basic regulations.
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1. Freezer Tips
These guidelines regarding food safety and storage when freezing your meals are USDA approved, so you can feel secure in preparing your meals for both freezing and serving.
You should always allow any cooked food to cool thoroughly before packaging it. Remember to never leave it to cool on the counter!
Instead, cool slightly, cover, and then refrigerate until entirely cooled to avoid the dangerous food-borne illnesses. Proper cooking, cooling, packing, and freezing can only mean proper health protection.
You should place your food into freezer-safe containers or bags, and don’t forget to clear away as much air as possible or protect the food’s surface which is prior to freezing.
These are 3 types of containers you can use:
#1. Sealable Zip-Top Freezer Bags Ziploc:
You can find these bags a variety of sizes, but it’s recommended to use gallon and quart bags. Make sure to purchase the heavy freezer bags and not the lighter ones. While you seal it, you should press as much air out of the bag as possible.
#2. Disposable Freezer Pans Dinner is Ready:
These ones are amazing for storing one-dish meals and they are available in a wide range of sizes. Cover the filled pans using freezer-safe plastic wrap and press it well onto the food to block air exposure. Then, wrap with foil and seal it properly.
The best thing about disposable freezer pans is that they can go directly from the freezer to the oven, you just need to take off the plastic wrap and recover using the foil before you bake.
#3. Freezer Containers with Lids Lehman’s
They are great for storing certain foods, such as chilies, stews, and soups. Many of these containers are labeled freezer-safe and are mostly made from stainless steel, glass, and heavy plastic. Fully fill the container, leaving a space of about ½ inch between the lid and the contents. Try to remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
It is best to label each one of your packaged items using a permanent freezer-safe marker.
You can use a black marker to write on bags, foil pans, and freezer tape for other containers. Write down the date prepared, the type of contents, and the reheating instructions.
You should also consider the way in which the item will be stored in your freezer when labeling because sometimes, you might need to label items on the side as well as on the top.
After packaging and labeling your items, you need to freeze them immediately. For longer-term storage of the items packaged in freezer bags, you may consider laying them on a bordered baking sheet in a single layer to quick-freeze them, then, stand them on end.
It is also recommended to store the same types of foods together. For example, place flattened sealable bags of chili or soups in one spot and metal pans filled with casseroles in another.
This way you can keep your freezer neater while making it easier for yourself to quickly find exactly what you are looking for.
The proper way to serve your meals from the freezer is to allow the dish to thaw thoroughly in the refrigerator first, preferably for the night before. In case you don’t have that much time, put foods in freezer containers or sealable bags under running cool water for a number of seconds until loose, and then reheat in an ovenproof container or a saucepan.
If the food is in metal pans, they can go directly from the freezer to the oven. You just have to remove the plastic layer and re-cover with the foil, then, take off the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking to let the dish brown.
You can get an instant-read thermometer to use in checking that the food reaches 160°F before you serve it. Ideally, frozen meals need 1.5 times the cooking time to reheat directly from the freezer.
Remember that frozen cooked foods can be stored for 2 to 3 months, while uncooked items can be stored for 7 months.
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