Have you ever found some great food on sale that you wished that you could save for another time?
In this article, I will go over how you can flash freeze food at home. I have also made some articles on how you can use flash freezing when you preserve your mushrooms, bananas and even avocados.
Defining flash freezing
Flash freezing is a term used widely in the food industry. It refers to the utilization of ultra-low temperatures to completely freeze food at a short interval of time. This is majorly used by big restaurants and food places to freeze up sub-recipes that come in handy while preparing the complete dish.
But flash freezing is not just limited to prominent food places. For people like us, who are at home, flash freezing comes handy too.
To some people, it might mean freezing a few blueberries and strawberries or maybe a pizza slice that might come in handy to satisfy those sudden and untimely urges of hunger.
Most people are accustomed to throwing away their leftovers such as meat, Cakes, bread, and cookies directly into a freezer container and keeping their fingers crossed, hoping the food remains excellent.
But under such circumstances, you just end up prying apart the frozen chicken with the help of a knife! Flash freezing, on the other hand, lets you warm up individual food servings instead of the entire freezer container.
Now that you know the advantage of flash freezing food, let’s see how to do it, shall we?
Steps to flash freeze food at home
There are two things that you would need before getting started on flash-freezing your food items:
- A baking tray or sheet that fits perfectly into your freezer
- Resealable freezer bags (Ziploc) or aluminum foil or freezer containers
After you have arranged for the above-mentioned things, you can proceed as per the following steps:
1. Prepare the food
- The first step involves preparing the food for flash-freezing. This will depend on the type of food you are planning to flash freeze. For certain foods, you might need to clean them properly. Foods such as fresh berries will need cleaning and washing before they are ready for flash-freezing. You will need to pat them dry properly.
- The next step would involve dividing your food. For example, you will need to divide your food into portion sizes so that when you are ready to de-freeze, you can just pick out the number of portions you might need. It can either be a cooked serving of meatloaf, or individual pieces of rolls, chicken breast, cake slices, etc.
- Once you are done dividing, it’s time to place them on a baking sheet or tray. Make sure that each food portion doesn’t touch each other. Otherwise, the effort put into dividing them will be all in vain.
- Put the baking sheet or tray in the freezer for some time. Take it out once you can feel the top of the food hardened. (If your freezer has a speed freeze area then use this)
2. Seal or Wrap the Food and Label It
- Once you have taken out the baking sheet or tray from the freezer, it’s time to separate the food into freezer bags or containers. The most efficient way would be to use a resealable freezer bag. But if you do not have a few handy, then you can just use some plastic wrap or aluminum foil to wrap the food.
- One important point to remember is never to wrap acidic foods with aluminum foil. The reason being acid reacts terribly with aluminum foil. This might give an off-flavor to the wrapped food.
- Once you are done, you can label the wrapped food so that it’s easier for everyone in the house. You can even write the date so that it’s easy to keep track of all your frozen foods, and they do not mingle.
When you have completed the above steps, you are now a pro at the levels to flash freeze food at home!
If you are still unsure about the steps, then you can have a look at this small tutorial that covers the basics of how to flash freeze food at home!
Foods that can be easily flash-frozen at home
Both raw, as well as cooked food, can be flash-frozen at home. You can divide any food into individual portions and flash freeze it for future use. The best foods to freeze are those that freeze well and are usually used in small quantities.
There are some foods that freeze better as compared to others. Below are a few foods that freeze really well:
- Fresh berries such as strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries
- Individual slices of sweet dishes such as pies, cheesecakes, and cakes
- Individual pieces of baked cookies, cupcakes, and scones
- Cooked or undercooked food items such as meatballs, burger patties, and bacon slices. Such food items can be undercooked while frozen and can be adequately cooked once they are ready to be consumed
- Individual portions of steaks, hot dogs, chops, and chicken breasts
- Unbaked cookie dough
- Unbaked bread dough that has been cut into appropriate-sized dough balls
- Cooked or undercooked fish fillets, fish steaks, shrimps, prawns, and scallops.
Foods that should not be flash-frozen at home
Some foods will get spoilt if you try to flash freeze them at home. They should never be flash-frozen. They lose their texture, flavor, and essence if flash-frozen. Below is a list of such food items:
- Raw or boiled eggs in shells
- All types of cheeses
- Sweet dishes with cream fillings such as cream-based pies or cream rolls
- Custard and other similar food items
- Fried foods that have been covered with batter
- Stuffed chicken breasts, chops, or any other similar stuffed meat dishes
- Cooked egg dishes such as omelets, fried eggs, poached eggs, etc.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Soups, stews, and broths.
Apart from berries, there are no fruits or vegetables that should be flash frozen. They get spoilt even after being frozen and lose their nutritious value.
You can try to flash-freeze them, but that requires a number of additional steps such as blanching them or pickling them in syrups or fruit juices.
Soups, stews, broths, and other liquid-based dishes are also not suitable for flash-freezing. You can freeze broth in freezer containers, but there’s no sense in trying to divide them into individual portions you can just freeze those as normal.
Time for the consumption of different flash-frozen food
The United States Department of Agriculture states that if you have stored food in temperatures 0°F or lower, then that particular food will always be okay to consume. This is because when you freeze food at much lower temperatures, it stops the growth of microorganisms that can spoil the food.
But the problem with frozen food is that if you keep it frozen for too long, then it starts losing its flavor, texture, and quality. So it’s better you consume the food before that happens.
Below is the recommended time for a few most commonly flash-frozen cooked food items:
- If you have flash-frozen cake slices, bread, muffins, baked cookies, yeast bread, or pies, you should consume them within three months.
- If you have flash-frozen cooked chicken breasts, meatloaf slices, pork chops, beef steaks, fish steaks, or any other cooked meat product, then you should consume it within three months.
- If you have flash-frozen individual cheesecake slices, then you should consume it within two weeks.
Below is the recommended time for a few most commonly flash frozen raw food items:
- If you have flash-frozen fresh berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, then you can keep consuming them for one year.
- If you have flash-frozen uncooked steaks, marinated meat, or chops, then you should consume it within five months.
- If you have flash-frozen uncooked bread dough or cookie dough, then you can consume it within three months.
- If you have flash-frozen uncooked meat patties, then you should consume it within three months.
- If you have flash-frozen uncooked fish fillets, prawns, scallops, shrimps, or any other seafood, then you should consume it within three months.
The best container to freeze food in
1. Glass Containers
Glass containers are the best when it comes to flash freezing food at home. They are sturdy and safe. You don’t have to worry about any chemicals getting to your food. Also, they last longer, saving you the trouble of constantly having to procure them. If you don’t have any at home, you can just buy it from here.
Here are a few more options:
Be it aluminum foil, plastic, or paper; wraps are another excellent way to go about flash freezing food at home. They provide insulation between the food and the air so that it stops the food from getting spoiled. Here are a few options you can choose from Check here
3. Zip-lock Freezer Bags
4. Aluminum Boxes
The aluminum baking pans that are available in the market work like a charm. The lids make it quite easy to assemble the food and wrap it properly for storing it in the freezer. Also, these work great when you need to carry the food elsewhere, like to a party or just as a gift. Here are a few options
5. Plastic boxes
And last but not least – plastic boxes with lids. They are a great option, but if you want to do something good for the environment, then you shouldn’t use them. Also, they will break down over a certain period of time and are a recurrent buy. Here are a few options for you in case you are keen on using them
Is it better to freeze food in Glass or plastic?
Considering that flash-freezing is worth the trouble, people often find it hard to decide between using plastic and glass containers. Plastic containers are the common choice for the primary reason that they are lightweight and very easy to carry around.
Also, they won’t break even if they slip out of your hands and fall to the ground. But, plastic is a major strain on the environment. We generate millions of tons of plastic every year, and continuing the usage of plastic containers will just keep increasing the numbers.
Documentation – There’s also another problem with plastic containers. They can pose a healthy rise when they are heated. Plastic uses two substances, bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates, that help to mold plastic into shape and hold it stable. These two substances are considered to be endocrine disruptors.
This means that these substances have the potential to mimic human hormones and mess with your gut. They can lead to serious health concerns if consumed over time. They attach themselves to food if food is heated along with the plastic container.
Glass, on the other hand, is quite safe to be used with hot foods and liquids. There are no chemicals leaching into your food. Glass has a non-porous surface that doesn’t absorb food, germs, and even smells. You can even keep an eye on the amount of flash-freeze food if you have stored in it a glass container as they are transparent. Also, glass containers can be used for indefinite amounts of time, if you work hard on not dropping them on the floor!
So the answer is clear. Glass is way more beneficial than plastic containers. Not just for your own health but for the environment as well. And that matters a lot in the long run.
Should flash-frozen food be considered healthy?
When you flash freeze food at home, a constant question that keeps erupting at the back of your head is whether flash-frozen food is good for you and your family. The answer is yes! Flash-frozen food is perfect and healthy.
In fact, according to a study conducted, flash-frozen food is healthier than fresh veggies and fruits. According to Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a cardiologist, when one flash freezes food, they stop all the processes that undergo inside the food.
Flash freezing stops the food from degrading. This makes them retain nutrients better than the fresh foods that have been kept outside, which is slowly degrading.
Can one eat 2-year-old frozen meat?
Have you ever flash-frozen something and left it at the back of your freezer and forgotten all about it?
And then months or years later you find it while cleaning your fridge and are worried if you can eat it now?
Well, this happens to a lot many of us who flash freeze food at home. Some people had even found frozen berries stuck to the back of the freezer at their parent’s house and don’t even remember when they were frozen!
Short Story – In 2015 there was news that a sting operation had detained a service that was providing meat. Apparently, they were selling meat that had been flash-frozen since the 1970s!
They were repeatedly thawing the meat and selling it to restaurants. That sounds insane, but it’s true. And it raises the question on can you eat meat that’s decades old? Let alone decade, can one eat meat that’s been flash frozen for two years?
So when you freeze meat at such low temperatures, all the molecules and enzymes that enable bacteria to act on the meat are slowed down. This either kills the bacteria overtime or makes it dormant.
But when you thaw the meat years later, the pathogens might get a chance to bounce back as long as you do not cook and consume the meat immediately.
So if you ever stumble upon flash-frozen meat that’s decades old, then just thaw and consume immediately before the bacteria starts acting up.
Another problem with old flash-frozen meat is that even though it might be safe, it has still lost its taste. It can become rubbery to chew. So better to avoid meat that has been flash-frozen for more than six months
Can mold grow in frozen food?
That would be hard unless your freezer is broken. Another scenario in which that can happen is if the mold was already present before you had flash frozen the food. Then it might survive the process.
Can you freeze food twice?
Although it’s safe to refreeze food once it has been thawed, it’s NOT recommended to do this. The reason is simple. At home, you thaw the frozen food, and then you consume part of it while the other part has been lying outside for all that time. This gives enough time for harmful bacteria to re-activate and start degrading the food.
When should you throw out frozen food?
Thawed or partially thawed frozen food can be easily refrozen if it has not gone over 40° F. But once it reaches 40° F, it should be thrown out.