My daughter and I were talking about ways to avoid food waste and one of the ways she started saving foods is by freezing. Surprisingly, when I started researching the subject, there was a lot of contradictory information about foods you should and should not freeze. For example, a lot of sites warn against freezing apples, but I have actually successfully frozen apple slices.
Since I have done a bit of freezing foods myself, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far.
Bread is one of the staple foods that is frequently thrown out since it can either get moldy or dry out before you have a chance to use it up. Before that happens, freeze breads and just take some as needed. You can freeze whole loaves of sandwich bread. If you have a homemade loaf, it’s best to slice it first. You can also freeze bagels, English muffins or biscuits. Wrap in foil, then place in a freezer bag.
For easier use, freeze individual slices of bread by laying them flat on a tray lined with parchment paper. After about two hours, take the individually frozen pieces and store in a freezer bag. Pull out slices as needed.
Thaw in the microwave by using the “thaw” feature, or warm in the oven.
You can save money by buying nuts in bulk, but end up wasting them if you store them in the pantry for more than three months. Nuts have a high fat content and can go rancid if you don’t use them right away. I know this as I had a jar of cashews go rancid over the summer during the lockdown.
It’s actually best to just separate nuts in small freezer bags and take out a portion as needed. You can also chop them up for recipes and store in a freezer storage bag.
Apples can be frozen for later use such as pies or toppings. Just peel, core and slice. To avoid browning, coat with lemon juice.
I never really thought about freezing avocados, mainly because they turn brown rather quickly. Lime or lemon juice will prevent browning.
- Cut the avocado in half and remove the seed.
- Cut into chunks.
- Spray or apply lemon or lime juice on avocado slices.
- Wrap in plastic wrap or vacuum seal.
- You can also mash or puree the avocado (with a little lemon or lime juice), freeze in ice cube trays. Once frozen you can place the frozen puree in freezer bags.
The frozen avocado will be mushier than fresh avocado, but you can use it in guacamole, dressing or as a spread.
Many vegetables can be frozen as is, while some benefit from blanching before freezing.
Blanching is a method of fast cooking where a fruit or vegetable is plunged into boiling water for a period of time, then cooled immediately in a pot of cold water to halt the cooking process. Blanching is needed for most vegetables to neutralize bacteria and slow the loss of flavor, texture and color when freezing. You can find vegetable blanching times here.
I used to think you could not freeze soft vegetables such as celery, eggplant and tomatoes. But I found that if you slice them and place in a freezer bag, they keep very well. You use them for stews and casseroles. I’ve frozen whole tomatoes for use in salsa and sauces. Just thaw in the fridge. Of course they will not be good for salads for they are just fine for cooked dishes.
There are a few ways to freeze herbs:
- Chop fresh herbs such as basil, cilantro, thyme, or parsley. Place in ice cube trays and add water. Once frozen, store the frozen herb cubes in freezer bags and label with the name of the herb and the date stored.
- You can also mix chopped herbs with olive oil in a blender. Place the mixture in a freezer bag and lay it flat to freeze. Just break off a piece each time you need to use some.
- Chop fresh herbs and place in a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer. Once the chopped herbs are frozen, place in a freezer storage. Eliminate as much air as possible from the bag. Label the bag.
- Ginger: Peel each ginger root with a vegetable peeler. Place the roots in a freezer bag and freeze. Each time you need ginger in a recipe, just grate the frozen ginger until you have the amount needed. Return the unused ginger in the freezer. I’ve done this for years, and never had any issues with recipes.
You can freeze yolks and whites separately or together. To freeze whole eggs, crack each egg into a container. Gently mix the yolks and whites but don’t beat air into the mixture. If you are separating them, crack the eggs and place yolks and whites in separate bowls.
Egg yolks can turn into a gel-like substance when frozen. To prevent this from occurring, add the following to the mixed eggs or separated yolks:
- If you’ll be using the yolks for baking desserts, add 1-½ tablespoons sugar, 1-½ tablespoons corn syrup to the egg mixture.
- If you will be using them for scrambled eggs, quiche or other savory dishes, add 1/2 teaspoons of salt per cup of whole eggs.
You do not need to add anything to egg whites – they will freeze just fine as is.
Use ice cube trays as containers. Spoon three tablespoons of the egg mixture into each compartment. One square equals one whole egg. Upon freezing, remove the egg mixture from the ice cube tray and store in freezer bags or air tight plastic containers. Seal and label with contents and date packaged.
Before use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Do not leave eggs to thaw in the counter as this may allow the growth of bacteria.
Beans and lentils
I’ve frozen whole beans and lentils cooked in water in airtight plastic containers. Leave space to allow for expansion. Use within three months.
Cook rice as as normal. Once it’s cooked, fluff out the rice with a fork and allow to cool. Divide the rice into serving portions in air-tight containers such as freezer storage bags or plastic storage containers with lids. Eliminate as much air as possible to avoid freezer burn. Freeze up to one month. To use, take out a portion out of the freezer and heat in the microwave or stove top. Add a tablespoon of water to the rice prior to heating. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time. If you warm the rice in a stove top, just place the rice in a pan, add a tablespoon of water and cover. Set the heat to medium and warm the rice slowly.
Cook pasta al dente before freezing. Drain well. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the pasta in a single layer. Add a few drops of olive oil. If you are using long noodles, position them in little nests. Freeze then transfer the pasta into freezer bags. Heat in a microwave when ready to use. Or you can place the frozen pasta directly into sauce in a pan if you are using a stove top.
It’s actually a good idea to freeze flour after you buy it to kill any bugs or organisms. When frozen flour can last up to a year.
Do not freeze flour in its original paper packaging as moisture will get in and ruin the flour. Instead, freeze flour for long term use in an airtight freezer bag. Before using, allow it to thaw on the countertop, as using cold or frozen flour may result in an overly sticky dough.
To make bread dough for freezing, make a batch of bread dough using double the amount of active dry yeast (not fast-acting years). Allow the dough to rise once. After the initial rise, shape the dough into loaves. Wrap the loaves with plastic wrap and freeze. You can keep the frozen dough for about four weeks.
To use, just thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight. Place the dough in an oiled bread pan and leave it on the counter for a few hours and allow it to rise. Bake the bread at the recommended temperature and length of time according to your recipe.
What foods do not freeze well?
Certain foods just do not freeze well:
- Mayonnaise and salads with mayo
- Cream sauces
What do you have to lose?
If you know the food item is not going to get consumed in time, why not just freeze it and see what happens? At best, you’ll find that the food freezes well and you can use it at a later date. That’s a win right there! At worst, the food you tried to freeze (since it would have gone uneaten and thrown out) doesn’t turn out well when frozen. You were going to have to toss it anyway. And you learned a new food that should not be frozen so you’ll try to use it up right away next time. Lesson learned!
What foods do you freeze on a regular basis? Please share in the comments!
Check out the video version of this article:
We are an affiliate of Amazon.com, which means we received a small commission if you click through one of our Amazon links when you shop, at totally no cost to you. This helps keep the lights on at the blog. Thanks!Give the gift of prime:
About the author:
Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and Clark.com, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.