5 Food Safety Tips for your Next Freezer Meal
Posted on Thursday, July 10th, 2014 at 7:00 am
Freezer meals are great! They give you a quick way to feed your family dinner when you don’t have a lot of time to cook. They are also healthier and less expensive than a pizza delivery or a trip to the nearest fast food place. Here is some food safety advice regarding freezer meals.
Is Frozen Food Safe?
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service says that food that has been constantly stored at 0 degrees F will always be safe. Freezing inactivates bacteria, yeasts, and molds that can be present in food. Once the food has been thawed, those microbes can become active again and begin to multiply.
Before you Freeze Hot Food
AllRecipes.com points out that before you freeze hot food it is very important to let it cool down. If you put hot food directly into the freezer it may not freeze uniformly. In other words, the outer edges of the food will freeze hard very quickly. At the same time, the inside of the food may not cool in time to prevent it from spoiling.
How to Freeze Hot Food Quickly
Put the pan, or dish, of hot food in a sink that has been filled with ice water. The water will cool down the pan and the food inside it quicker than if you let it cool at room temperature. If you are cooling a soup, stew, or sauce, it helps to stir it after putting the pot into a sink that has been filled with ice water. The stirring helps it to cool evenly.
Other Helpful Tips
Don’t put the entire cooled casserole into the freezer! Instead, divide it into several individual portions. Store each portion separately. Make sure to write the date that the food was frozen, and what it is, on the bag or container it now sits in. Don’t stack up the cooled individual portions in your freezer. Put them side by side, in a single layer, until they completely freeze.
Remove as much air as possible from freezer bags before sealing them closed. If you are freezing a liquid (like a soup or broth) leave a little extra room in the bag or container you are freezing it in. This is important because liquids can expand when frozen.
Best Ways to Thaw Frozen Foods
You can safely thaw frozen food by taking it out of the freezer and putting into your refrigerator. It is a slow method, but will work. For a faster method, place the frozen food in a leak-proof bag and put it in a large container of cold water. The fastest way to thaw food is to put the food in the microwave on the defrost setting. Make sure you cook the food immediately after that.