It’s important to understand that the way that food freezes is quite different than the way that water does. When water freezes into ice, there is a small amount of heat produced, and water actually stays at 32 F for a while as the ice crystals grow. Then a rapid temperature drop occurs.
However, when food freezes, there is no state change to go through and the different components within the food, which also includes water, will freeze differently, so the temperature will vary quite a lot when the food freezes and comes to a state where it remains fresh.
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If you want to know how to freeze food properly, there are a few things you’ll have to take care of.
How to Freeze Food Properly
The first thing that you need to know is rapid freezing is the way to go.
If you turn down the temperature in your freezer well before you have to go to the supermarket to get some food or produce, then you will be doing yourself a favor.
In order to get the best quality of food out of your freezer, rapidly freezing is the way to go.
This cultivates very small and numerous ice crystals inside the food so that when you warm the food or defrost it out of the freezer for the first time, the ice crystals won’t damage the food while it thaws.
In contrast, slowly freezing the food creates very large crystals within the cells, and that leads to damage within the cells when the food is being thawed.
Another great thing you can do to properly freeze food is to wrap your fresh produce and meat so that as little water and air gets in as possible. The introduction of air and water can add further moisture and contaminants to the food and leads to it spoiling.
You should also cut down on unnecessarily opening the freezer door to let the food inside freeze and stay frozen without interruptions and changes in temperature, however slight. The key to freezing food is stability and not letting anything in the environment affect the stable condition that it’s in.
For vegetables and fruits, you can use the process of blanching to properly freeze them. This basically deactivates the enzymes within the food so that the chemical reactions that lead to food degrading over time are slowed down. You denature the enzymes by heating or boiling the vegetables and fruits in water before freezing them.
You can also add ascorbic acid to the fruits and vegetables to preserve them. Ascorbic acid is the generic name for Vitamin C. You can also coat these vegetables and fruits with sugar so that color loss occurs less and texture preservation is much better.
Preventing Freezer Burn
Freezer burn is the potential downside to freezing foods. However, it does only occur when food is frozen improperly.
If frozen food is exposed to air, then water molecules in the food are turned in to ice crystals and migrate to the surface of the food. This is why sometimes there are mounds of ice on your frozen food.
This leads to the dehydration of the food and thus damages the texture and the internals of the food. Freezer burn is harmless, of course, but dried out food becomes tasteless and has a metallic flavor to it that no one wants to taste. Thus, it is important to take some preventative measures to stop freezer burn from happening in the first place.
Freeze Food When It’s Been Cooled
If you’ve prepared a meal, it’s better to eat some of it hot and wait for the meal to cool down before you freeze all of it. This is because the heat from the food could damage the bags or containers you put it in, and the delayed freezing due to the high temperature of the food will lead to big ice crystals forming that will damage the structure and texture of the food during the thaw.
The best container that you can use differs from food to food. If you’re able to place the item in a freezer bag before doing so, it will add better protection to it. However, for some things like meat and fresh produce, when you need to store a lot of it, you will need to keep it in a container.
If you’re freezing liquids, use small containers so there’s very little space for air to enter. However, always leave a little space for the liquid to expand, as most do while they freeze.
Use Freezer Bags
Freezer bags are invaluable when trying to avoid freezer burn. It’s important to wrap food like fresh produce and meat in bags so that they’re isolated from the air and properly closed all the way. This will make sure that there are no contaminants to react with and will also minimize the number of ice crystals in the food.
Use Extra Wrapping for Extended Freezing
Extra wrapping is always a boon to frozen food. Using aluminum foil to wrap the freezer bag will add extra protection.
It’s important to not freeze too much food at once since that makes the process less efficient and also contributes to your electric bill. However, you should also keep your freezer full of food since having it at full capacity helps additions cool down faster.
You should also take care to never leave open water in a freezer, especially in a glass. Increased moisture in a freezer leads to ice buildup and the glass can shatter at low temperatures.
With these tips and a little knowledge, you’ll be able to freeze all your food perfectly so that it’s preserved for color and flavor.