Guest Author - Catherine Bridges
Freezing - Part 2 - Preparation and Handling
When it comes to freezing sandwich condiments and fixings, address each ingredient separately. As we have seen before in the FREEZING LEFTOVERS article, specific items including mayonnaise and cottage cheese should not be frozen at all.
1. Bread can be refrozen after defrosting; however, it is not always pleasant tasting and will, at the very least, be stale tasting. Commercial breads should only be left in the freezer for one to two weeks and may be frozen in the original packaging. Wrap in foil for a longer freezer life of up to three months. Homemade bread should be baked as usual, cooled quickly on a wire rack, then sealed and frozen (up to three months).
2. Cheeses, those that are highly flavored or seasoned, may be frozen, however, it is best to use a double-thickness to prevent cross-flavoring from other foods.
3. Hard-boiled eggs tend to have a rubbery texture when defrosted, so it is best not to freeze them. Refrigerate them instead and use as needed, discarding by age when necesary.
4. Bell peppers may be frozen after a thorough wash, cut off the stems, and remove the seeds and inner membranes. Cut and blanch. They will have a freezer life of one year.
5. Whole tomatoes can be frozen, but collapse completely when thawed! You can, however, freeze them in a chopped form and use them in cooking for other dishes. They have a freezer life of 10 to 12 months.
6. Onions should be frozen by laying them out on a small tray (enclosed in a plastic bag) in the freezer until firm. Then transfer them to a freezer container. Mushrooms may also be frozen using this method. Raw mushrooms have a freezer life of one month, while cooked mushrooms are good for up to three months.
7. Vegetables Most vegetables can be frozen if they are blanched first.
8. Note: spices have a tendency to deteriorate after three to four months in the freezer and their flavors are lost.
9. Most herbs can be frozen successfully if you wash and dry them before freezing. You can pack the whole sprigs into freezer containers or chop finely first. Ice cube trays can be used by placing chopped herbs in each section and covering with a little water. Once frozen, you can transfer them to another freezer container.
a. Bacon Only freeze fresh bacon. Freeze in small quantities, or consider individual serves by rolling each strip, then packing closely. Cook bacon as soon as it has thawed. (approx. freezer life - 2 months)
b. Beef Trim all excess fat from uncooked meat as it becomes rancid when frozen. Freeze in small quantities.
c. Ham Because of its high salt content, ham has a limited freezer life of one month for cooked ham, two months for uncooked.
d. Sausages Sausages may be frozen and have a freezer life of six months. If you are making your own, dont season too highly and do not add salt before freezing.
e. Chicken & Turkey Pack small quantities of chicken or turkey in plastic bags or wrap in foil. Cooked poultry has a freezer life of one year, while uncooked chicken or turkey is about four to six months.
f. Seafood Absolute freshness is a must! Shellfish must be caught, cooked and frozen ALL on the same day - it is highly perishable. Cooked crab meat (without the shell), salmon, oysters, and prawns, will last about one month in the freezer.