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Food Preservation: All About Freezing

All About Freezing

Here at Canology, we take great pride in giving you the knowledge you need to get great results with your food.  One of the issues that comes up frequently in the kitchen is how do you store your food for long periods of time without losing freshness or having it spoil. Well, one of the best and most popular ways to do this is by freezing.

Freezing preserves food for extended periods of time by preventing the growth of microorganisms that cause food spoilage.  You can freeze almost any food (some exceptions to this rule are canned foods and eggs in shells). But if you want to take full advantage of the benefits offered by freezing, it is imperative that you utilize proper packaging.  With proper packaging, your food will be protected against freezer burn, a deteroriation of food quality caused by exposure to oxygen and cold temperatures. Additionally, your food will not only last longer, but it will also better retain its natural flavors and nutrients.  For these reasons, we strongly recommend the use of a vacuum sealer.  Vacuum sealers suck the air out of food storage containers, thereby allowing you to store your food in an air tight (oxygen free) container.  (The most frequent vacuum sealed containers are vacuum canisters and vacuum bags - Canology has both available.)  The lack of oxygen further prohibits microorganism growth and helps prevent freezer burn.  If you are going to freeze your valuable food investments, freeze them the right way - using a vacuum sealer.  There simply is no better way.

Canology offers a wide array of vacuum sealers to assist you with effectively freezing your food.  If you are producing large quantites of foods for household consumption, it makes sense to have a heavy duty sealer that can withstand the rigorous demands of your kitchen. We recommend the VacMaster Vacuum Sealer Pro 140 for heavy duty household usage. This machine combines advanced technology with superb design, culminating in an appliance with commercial quality performance and ease of use. If you have a smaller family size or less demanding requirements, you might consider the VacMaster Pro 90, the Pro 140's litter brother. Suffice it so say the Pro 90 shares the same DNA as the Pro 140, but takes up less counter top space and is easier to move around the kitchen.

You will find many uses for your vacuum sealer.  Smart shoppers like to purchase large quantities of meats while they are on sale, slice them into smaller portions, and then place them into vacuum sealer bags.  You can easily and reliably slice all your foods using the Waring Food Slicer 1000 and then freeze the reduced portion sizes into vacuum sealed storage bags.  We're talking about huge savings here!  You can also freeze and store soups and stews, cookies, dough, homemade meat sauces, cheese, and coffee beans.  And for even more freezing versatility, you can freeze foods in vacuum sealable canisters.  The VacMaster Vacuum Sealer Canister Set provides an excellent way to do this.   

But even when using a vacuum sealer, keep in mind these additional freezing tips:  

1.  The ideal freezing temperature is 0 degrees Farenheit or lower. At these temperatures your foods will maintain their freshness indefinitely, especially with the use of a vacuum sealer.

2.  Freeze your food as fast as possible to maintain its quality.  Rapid freezing prevents undesirable large ice crystals from forming throughout your food, resulting in moisture which cau
ses reduced flavor.  

3.  For food safety, only thaw your frozen foods in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in a microwave oven.  For faster thawing, place your food in a leak proof plastic bag and immerse it in cold water. After thawing, immediately cook your food.

4.  It is safe to refreeze foods after thawing but beware you will lose natural flavor due to the moisture that occurs during the thawing process.

5.  If you freeze your foods at zero degrees farenheit or below, your foods will last indefinetly.  But for best results use your foods within the time frames set forth in the chart below.  With a vacuum sealer, your results will be up to five times longer.

Freezer Storage Chart (0 F)
Note: Freezer storage is for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely.

Bacon and Sausage1 to 2
Casseroles2 to 3
Egg whites or egg substitutes12
Frozen Dinners and Entrees3 to 4
Gravy, meat or poultry2 to 3
Ham, Hotdogs and Lunchmeats1 to 2
Meat, uncooked roasts4 to 12
Meat, uncooked steaks or chops4 to 12
Meat, uncooked ground3 to 4
Meat, cooked2 to 3
Poultry, uncooked whole12
Poultry, uncooked parts9
Poultry, uncooked giblets3 to 4
Poultry, cooked4
Soups and Stews2 to 3
Wild game, uncooked8 to 12

6.  Blanching (scalding) vegetables for a short time in water prior to freezing is advisable.  See the chart below for blanching instructions.  Be sure to cool your vegetables after blanching to stop any cooking process that may have started as a result of the blanching.

Preparation and boiling water blanch times for common vegetables
VegetablePreparation and boiling water blanch times
AsparagusLeave whole or cut into 2-inch lengths. Blanch 2 to 4 minutes, depending on stalk size.  Cool immediately, then drain.  
Beans (green and yellow podded)Snip tips.  Cut into desirable sizes or freeze small beans whole. Blanch approx. 3 minutes. Cool immediately, then drain.
Beans, fresh limaShell and sort. Blanch 2 to 4 minutes.  Cool immediately, then drain.
BeetsWash after removing all but approx. 2 inches from top. Cook tender for 25 to 50 minutes, depnding on size of beets.  Remove skins after chilling. Slice or dice larger beets to desired size. 
Broccoli and cauliflowerCut broccoli stalks lengthwise. Soak approx. 1/2 hour in salt brine (approx. 2 teaspoons of salt to 1/2 gallon cold water) to remove small insects. Rinse and drain. Blanch approx. 3 minutes in water.  Cool immediately, the drain.
Brussels sproutsAfter trimming, soak 1/2 hour in salt brine. Rinse and drain. Blanch heads 3 to 5 minutes, depending on size.  Cool immediately, then drain.
CabbageRemove coarse outer leaves. Cut into wedges.  Blanch wedges for approx. 3 minutes.  For shredded cabbage cut blanching time in half.  Cool immediately then drain.
CarrotsTrim and scrape. Dice or slice 1/4-inch thick. Blanch cut carrots approx. 3 minutes; whole carrots approx. 5 minutes. Cool immediately, then  drain.
Sweet corn, on-the-cobHusk, remove silks, and trim ends. Blanch 7 to 11 minutes, depending on ear size. Chill in ice water for as long as it takes to blanch otherwise corn can become mushy.  
Sweet corn, cutHusk, remove silks, and trim ends. Blanch 4-6 minutes, depending on size of ear. Chill. Cut from cob.
KohlrabiCut off tops and roots. Wash and peel tough bark. Wash and slice 1/4-inch thick, dice in 1/2-inch cubes, or leave whole. Blanch cubes 1 minutes; slices 2 minute; whole 3 minutes. Cool promptly and drain.
VegetablePreparation and boiling water blanch times
MushroomsTrim stem ends. Sort by size. Freeze small ones whole; slice larger ones. To prevent discoloration, use 3 teaspoons lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid to 1 quart water when blanching. Blanch whole 4 minutes; sliced, 3 minutes. Cool and drain.
Steam blanch by dipping in a solution of 1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid to 1 pint water. Steam whole 5 minutes; buttons or quarters 3 1/2 minutes; sliced 3 minutes.
Sauteed: Heat small quantities of mushrooms in butter for 3 minutes. Cool and pack. No blanching is required.
OkraCut off stems without opening seed cells. Blanch small pods 3 minutes; large pods 4 minutes. Leave whole or slice crosswise. Cool promptly and drain.
Peas (green, English, black-eyed)Shell small amount at a time. Blanch green or English for 1 1/2 minutes; black-eyed 2 minutes. Cool promptly and drain.
Peas (edible pod, sugar, or Chinese)Remove stems, blossom ends, and any string. Leave whole. Blanch small pods 1 1/2 minutes; large pods 2 minutes. Cool promptly and drain.
Peppers, greenRemove stem and seeds. Halve, chop, or cut into 1/2-inch strips or rings. May be frozen without blanching. For use in cooking, blanch halves 3 minutes, strips or rings 2 minutes. Cool, drain, and package.
Peppers, hotWash and stem. Package leaving no headspace.
PimentosPeel by roasting in oven at 400-450 degrees F for 6-8 minutes or until skins can be rubbed off. Wash off charred skins, cut out stems, remove seeds. Package.
Potatoes, IrishPlain: Wash and peel or scrub. Blanch 3-5 minutes depending on size. Cool, drain.
French fried: Use potatoes that have been stored at least 30 days. Wash, peel, and cut into thin strips. Rinse in cold water, dry thoroughly. Fry in hot fat (360 degrees F) about 5 minutes until tender, not brown. Drain on paper towels. Cool and package. Finish browning at serving time in a hot oven (475 degrees F).
Potatoes, sweetChoose potatoes that have been cured for at least one week. Sort to size and wash. Cook until almost tender (in water, pressure cooker, oven). Cool at room temperature, peel and cut in halves, slice or mash.
To prevent darkening: Dip whole potato or slices in a solution of 1/2 cup lemon juice to 1 quart water for 5 seconds.
For mashed sweet potatoes: Mix 2 Tablespoons orange or lemon juice with each quart.
Spinach and other greensRemove damaged leaves and tough stems. Blanch collards 3 minutes; other greens 2 minutes. Cool promptly and drain.
Summer squash, zucchiniPeel; cut in 1/2-inch slices; blanch 3 minutes. Steam shredded zucchini 1-2 minutes or until translucent. Cool promptly and drain.
TomatoesRaw: Wash and dip in boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen skins. Core and peel. Freeze whole or in pieces. Use for cooking or seasoning only.
Juice: Wash, sort, and trim. Cut to desired size, which is recommened to be quarters or eighths. Simmer 5-10 minutes. Press through sieve. Season as desired.  Pour into containers, leaving appropriate room to breath.  
Stewed: Prepare as in juice. Cover and cook until tender, 10-20 minutes. Cool and pack leaving appropriate room to breath.   headspace.

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