How To Properly Freeze And Defrost Food

If frozen improperly, food loses its beneficial properties and bacteria multiply rapidly.

To freeze food properly, you need to keep in mind three simple conditions: fresh food, speed of operation, and vacuum in the packages.

General principles of freezing food

The main condition for proper freezing is fresh food. Once the food has been prepared for freezing (washed, dried, cut, cooked, etc.), it should be placed in small portions in a container to be frozen or in special bags that do not allow air and moisture to pass through. To protect the food from vitamin loss and prevent it from getting winded during freezing, try to leave as little air in the package as possible. Do not fill the containers in which the food will be frozen completely, as some foods tend to swell when frozen and may lift the lid.

It is advisable to pre-blanch broccoli (and cauliflower) for up to one minute before freezing to prevent it from becoming bitter.

After blanching, the cabbage should be dried on paper towels or in another way to remove as much moisture as possible. After that, put two or three florets in a bag (or two bags) and put them in the freezer.

It is important to freeze foods as soon as possible to get ahead of their natural aging. Some freezers have a special function of “shock” freezing, in which case the weight of the food should not exceed the weight specified in the instructions (for example, a 100-liter freezer can freeze up to 15 kg of food in 24 hours). The “shock” freezing mode must be activated in advance (according to some instructions, up to 24 hours).

If you freeze a lot of food at the same time, the process will take much longer, and the food will partially lose its beneficial properties. It is good if you can lay out the food to be frozen first on a flat surface (in the freezer), and then, when it is “frozen,” stack it more tightly. This way, they will freeze evenly.

Meat should be frozen by vacuum packing it and then wrapping it in foil.

This way, it can be stored for up to three months.

When freezing food, it is a good idea to use special stickers on which you can indicate the date of freezing and the name of the product. You can buy such stickers at an office supply store.

Defrosting food is also important

To preserve the vitamins in frozen foods, you not only need to freeze them properly but also defrost them. Some foods lose their flavor and change their texture when they are thawed in a pan or pot.

Defrosting fruit, meat, and fish

Therefore, it is best to take fruit, meat, and fish out of the freezer in the evening and defrost them in the refrigerator, as bacteria multiply very quickly at high temperatures after defrosting (bacteria multiply at temperatures between 5 and 60 degrees Celsius, and the best temperature for them is room temperature). In addition, berries such as raspberries and strawberries simply fall apart when thawed at room temperature.

If you want to speed up defrosting, you can put the food in cold water and refrigerate it. In an emergency, you can defrost food in hot water above 60 degrees.

Defrosting vegetables

Quick-frozen vegetables retain their vitamins well, so it’s best to throw them straight from the freezer into boiling water or a frying pan. This way, the vitamins and minerals in the vegetables will be preserved to the maximum extent possible during cooking.

The exception is defrosting corn, leafy greens, and spinach. Corn needs to thaw slightly, otherwise, it won’t have time to cook with the rest of the vegetables. The leafy greens and spinach should also be allowed to thaw a little, so they cook better.

Raw foods that have already been thawed should not be frozen again, as the number of bacteria will increase and the product will spoil faster and lose its appearance and texture.

If the frozen product is cooked immediately after defrosting, it can be frozen again in this form (cooked), as long as it is done quickly.

What is freeze-drying?

Freezer browning occurs when a product is frozen with a lot of oxygen and when the frozen food packaging is allowed to leak air. The damaged areas of the product dry out and turn a whitish-grayish color. This happens when the temperature in the freezer drops, which causes water to evaporate on the surface of the food.
Airing during freezing spoils food and impairs its taste. It’s best not to use weathered foods for food at all. To avoid airing out, keep bags and containers tightly closed or freeze them in vacuum packaging.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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