Freezing food saves time, money and energy

‘Tis the season for family gatherings and large meals. But don’t let food waste become a holiday tradition for you and yours. Here are some tips on how you can reduce food waste and save money while doing it. You’ll be happy to have your favorite foods on hand without having to make a trip to the grocery store!

Containers for Freezing – The first step to packaging your food is to start with quality containers. Tempered glass, plastic, and heavily-waxed cardboard containers work well for liquid packs like soup or fruit puree. Heavy plastic bags, specifically developed for use in the freezer are best for dry-packed vegetables and fruits. Select a size that holds only enough fruit or vegetables for one family meal. Make sure your packaging seals tightly so as not to dry out the food.

Packing – When packaging, make sure to squeeze as much air out of your packaging as possible. Air draws moisture from the food, resulting in a poor quality product. Allow space in your container, roughly 1/2 to 1 inch, because food expands as it freezes. Seal securely. Make sure to label packages plainly. Include the name of the food, the date it was packed. There are gummed labels, colored tape, crayons and stamps made especially for labeling frozen food packages.

Loading the Freezer – Freeze fruits and vegetables as soon as they are packed and store them at 0º F for best quality. Put no more unfrozen food into a home freezer than will freeze within 24 hours. This is usually two to three pounds of food to each cubic foot of freezer capacity. Overloading your freezer may result in spoiled food. Both fruits and vegetables may be refrozen if they have not been completely thawed. However, thawing and refreezing will usually result in a lowered quality and loss of flavor.

Freezing Fruits – Fruit is one of the easiest foods to freeze for later use. Buy your favorite fruits while they are on sale and in season. Use only fully ripe fruits. The quality of the frozen product will vary with the kind of fruit, the stage of maturity and the type of pack. Although fruit may be a little softer upon thawing, the nutrients will still be saved. Freezing fruits is great for smoothies, baking and having your favorite seasonal fruits on hand during the off season.

Preparation – Make sure to wash all fruits and vegetable thoroughly before freezing. Do not let the fruit stand in water. Prepare enough fruit for only a few containers at one time. Keep in mind how you will be using your food in the future to determine how you will freeze it. Larger food items are usually cut or halved before freezing. Smaller fruits like berries can be frozen whole. Puree other fruits or vegetable for soup bases or smoothies.

There are many ways to pack your favorite fruits and vegetables. For more information about canning and freezing to reduce food waste visit this useful site. To learn more on how you can live a greener life, visit our blog for more helpful articles.