Country Traditions

September 12, 2010

Freezing Food

Filed under: freezing food — Tags: , — dmacc502 @ 7:02 pm
Various fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains; ...

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The basics of freezing

No matter what type of food you’re freezing, there are several basic guidelines that will make your life easier, and help you get the best results. These are :

Freezing can retain quality, but not increase it. Begin with good quality food.
Try to prevent air coming in contact with the food, and moisture from escaping. Both of these will dry things out, and can ‘burn‘ them in many cases.
Freeze foods as quickly as possible. This will minimise the size of ice crystals that will form, limiting the damage to the food when thawed.
Foods should be slightly undercooked when frozen if they are to be reheated when thawed.
Only put as much food in the freezer as will freeze within the next 24 hours or so (usually about 2-3lb per cubic foot).
Rather than freezing spices, add them just prior to serving a meal. They can change colour and flavour when frozen.
Label things so you know when they were frozen, and when to take them out.
How to freeze vegetables

Most vegetables freeze quite well (they’ll happily stay frozen for several months). Where possible, use the youngest and most tender of those available.

Here’s what’s involved :

Preparation

Clean the vegetables to remove as much dirt as possible.
Trim them, removing any unwanted stalks and leaves.
Cut them into bite-size portions.
Blanching

Many vegetables contain a number of enzymes which cause them to lose their colour and flavour when frozen. Blanching (putting the vegetables briefly in boiling water) stops these enzymes from acting.

To blanch the vegetables, set up a pan of boiling water beside a bowl of ice water. Using a slotted spoon, put a small handful of vegetables into the boiling water for a couple of minutes*, then transfer it to the ice water (to stop it cooking). Pat it dry, and put it aside. Repeat with the rest.

* times vary, so here are the recommended blanching times for a number of common vegetables :

Vegetable Blanching time
Asparagus Wash, sort by size. Snap off tough ends. Blanch for 2-3 min.
Beans Wash. Trim ends. Cut if desired.Blanch for 2-3 min.
Beetroot Wash. Remove tops, leaving about an inch. Cook until tender (25–30 min for small beets; 45-50 for large ones). Cool promptly, peel, trim tap root and stem. Cut into slices or cubes. Pack into freezer containers.
Broccoli Wash. Trim leaves. Cut into pieces. Blanch for 3 min.
Brussels sprouts Wash. Remove outer leaves. Blanch for 4-5 min.
Cabbage Wash. Discard course outer leaves. If shredded, blanch for about 1.5 min. For wedges, blanch for 3-4 min.
Carrots Wash, peel and trim. Cut if desired. Blanch for 2 min (small carrots) – 5 min (large ones).
Cauliflower Discard leaves and stem, wash. Break into
flowerets or leave small heads whole. Add 1 tbsp vinegar to water, and blanch for 6 min.
Corn on the cob Remove husks and silks. Trim ends. Blanch medium-sized ears for 8 min. Wrap ears individually in plastic wrap or freezer bags.
Eggplant Wash, peel, slice 1/3 inch thick. Blanch for 4 min in water containing a tablespoon of citric acid or lemon juice.
Herbs Wash. Snip or leave on stalks. For basil only, blanch for a minute. For other herbs,
blanching is not necessary. Freeze in a single layer on trays or baking sheets.
Mushrooms Wipe with damp paper towel. Trim. May be frozen without blanching.
Once all the vegetables have been blanched and cooled, pack them straight into containers or bags. Alternatively, lay them out on baking sheets / trays and freeze them like this (put them into containers or bags later – they’ll fit better, and can be easily broken up).

How long will they last?
Frozen vegetables will generally last for 3-6 months.Details of the process for common fruits are :

Fruit Preparation
Apples Wash, peel, core, and cut into pie slices. Cover with ascorbic acid.
Apricots, Peaches and Nectarines Wash in cold water and sort. Dip apricots or nectarines in boiling water until skins loosen, about 15 to 20 seconds. Chill, peel, halve and remove stones. Pack with syrup (above).
Bananas Peel and mash thoroughly. Add 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid or lemon juice per cup of mashed banana. Package, seal, and freeze.
Berries Wash and sort. Pack in syrup.
Cherries Wash, sort, stem, and pit. Pack in syrup; add ½ teaspoon ascorbic acid.
Citrus Fruit Wash, peel, section or slice fruit. Add ¼ teaspoon ascorbic acid to some sugar, and sprinkle over each layer. Let stand in refrigerator until fruit forms its own juice. Stir gently, and freeze.
Cranberries Wash, sort and pack without sugar.
Currants (use large varieties where possible) Wash in cold water and sort. Pack in sugar using 1 cup sugar to 8-9 cups fruit. For cooking, pack dry without sugar.
Gooseberries Wash and sort. Pack without sugar or syrup or mix berries and sugar called for in pie recipe.
Melons Wash. Cut flesh into ½- to ¾-inch cubes or balls. Cover with sugar syrup, using 2 cups sugar to 1 quart water. Serve partially frozen.
Pineapple Peel and core. Dice, slice or cut into wedges. Cover with syrup.
Rhubarb Remove leaves and woody ends, wash and cut in 1-inch lengths. Do not blanch. Pack with sugar.
Strawberries Wash, sort and stem. Pack whole, sliced, or crushed berries in a light syrup.
Tomatoes Cook completely (boil) prior to freezing.    http://www.formerfatguyblog.com/2007/11/03/the-ultimate-guide-to-freezing-food.html

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