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Old 09-02-2002, 06:49 PM
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kimmyo kimmyo is offline
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Home Freezing of Cooked and Prepared Foods

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Katherine P. Riddle, Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist
Anna Mae Brenner, Extension Food Service Management Specialist
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Hints for Freezing
Hints for Packaging
Recommendations for Commonly Prepared Foods


Preparing food ahead of time and freezing it can save time, energy and money. Frozen cooked foods also add variety to your menu, offer quick meals for unexpected company and provide nutritious choices for busy days.

When you are preparing a main dish, it takes only a little more effort and time to make enough for several meals. You can freeze all of the prepared food in meal size packages, or serve part of the food immediately and freeze the rest.

It is more economical to make your own supply of prepared dishes than to purchase commercially prepared foods.

Consider freezing:


Leftovers that cannot be used immediately.
Foods that ordinarily take a long time to prepare.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Foods you can prepare in quantity.
Foods that still taste good after a reasonable storage time.
Hints for Freezing
Select only fresh, high quality ingredients because freezing does not improve the quality of food.

Slightly undercook prepared foods. They will finish cooking when reheated.

Cool foods quickly before packaging. Place the pan of food in a large pan of ice water, crushed ice or cubes. Stirring will help cool the food faster. Use a fan to cool foods that cannot be stirred.

Freeze food promptly as soon as it is cooled to room temperature.

Put no more unfrozen food in the freezer than will freeze within 24 hours. Usually this is 2 or 3 pounds per cubic foot of freezer capacity. Stack the food after it is frozen.

Plan to use frozen prepared foods within a short time. Keep using foods from the freezer and replenish with fresh stock. This makes greater use of freezer space, lowers the cost per pound of food stores, and keeps your store of food fresh.

The temperature of the freezer should not go above 0F. Fluctuating temperatures and temperatures that are not low enough cause loss of quality.

Foods that do not freeze well include mayonnaise, cream puddings and fillings, custard, gelatin salads, cheese, the whites of hard cooked eggs and uncooked egg yolks.

Hints for Packaging
Use freezer containers or wrappings of moisture/vapor-resistant material.

Pack food compactly into the container to reduce the amount of air in the package. Allow head room for expansion as food freezes.

In quart containers, the food may be separated into two or three layers by a double thickness of water resistant wrapping material.

Quart containers hold four to six servings; pints, two to three.

Choose containers by the number of servings you will want to serve.

Use only containers with wide top openings. Food can then be removed without thawing.

Freeze the prepared foods in your favorite casserole dish. The food can be removed after freezing, wrapped and returned to the freezer for storage.

For microwave reheating, use plastic wrap for wrapping small amounts of quick breads or breads. Casseroles should be approved for microwave use.

Label and date all packages, and keep an inventory of all frozen food.
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