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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Freezing Foods for the Holidays

Picture yourself stress-free during the holidays.  You can do this by preparing and freezing your holiday meals and treats in advance.  Use your freezer to your advantage and make this holiday season one that you spend most of your time enjoying your family and friends, and less time in preparing food at the last minute.
First, make sure your freezer is in good working order.  It should stay at 0º or a little lower.  Storing frozen foods at temperatures higher than this increases the rate of deterioration and can shorten the shelf life of frozen foods.  Keep an appliance thermometer in your freezer.
To ensure food safety, it is best to freeze foods as quickly as possible.  Do not, however, overload your freezer with unfrozen foods.  Add only the amount that will freeze within 24 hours.  Too many unfrozen foods slow down the freezing rate and may result in loss of quality. There is also the possibility of food borne pathogens forming before the food has frozen.
Moisture loss causes freezer burn.  Freezer burn is often caused by two things: air around the product and loss of moisture.  To prevent freezer burn, package foods in heavy-weight, moisture resistant wrap or bags and eliminate as much air as possible.  Loss of moisture often occurs when food has been frozen longer than it should have been.  Freezer burn is likely to cause off-flavors but it does not cause illness.
Most holiday foods freeze well.  Some that do not freeze well include meringue, icings made from egg whites, cream or custard fillings and gelatins.
Freezing Pointers:
·         Leave ½ inch headspace for expansion in containers.  Head space is the empty space between the food and the top of the bag or container.
·         Squeeze as much air as possible from bags before sealing.
·         Label - listing the food that’s inside and the date.
·         Use holiday foods within weeks.
So start now preparing for the holidays by making your favorite holiday cookies, breads, pies, soups and so forth and freezing them.  Then you will enjoy the holidays to the fullest.

Source: So Easy to Preserve