The Proper Way to Freeze and Thaw Food

Freezing food properly makes a big difference.

Do you know how to freeze and thaw food the right way? Below, everything you need to know to do it right.

Note: If you pack food flat in stacked, pre-labelled zip-top bags, your freezer will look neater, the food you want will be easier to find and it will thaw more quickly so there’s less wait time between “hanger” and happy eating.

(Related: Can You Eat Freezer-Burned Food? 5 Things to Know)

For smoothie ingredients:

  • Arrange fruits and vegetables in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze, uncovered, for 15 minutes or so before transferring to zip-top freezer bags. This will help to keep ingredients from clumping together, which your blender will appreciate.

For braises, soups and stews:

  • Chill in the fridge first, then portion into pre-labelled 1-gallon (4 L) zip-top bags and freeze for up to three months.
  • To thaw, remove a zip-top bag from the freezer and place it in a large bowl in the sink. Run the bag under room-temperature water until you can easily remove the contents from the bag. (We wash and reuse our bags whenever possible, but it’s a personal choice.)
  • Transfer the contents of the bag to a saucepan and cook over medium heat, until the desired temperature is reached. Regardless of how “hangry” you are, do not heat your meal over high heat; the bottom will burn before the top gets a chance to warm through.

(Related: 7 Frozen Foods Nutritionists Actually Buy)

For individual items such as burger patties, chicken breasts and so on:

  • Arrange items in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze, uncovered, until just frozen.
  • Pack into pre-labelled zip-top bags and return to the freezer for up to three months.
  • To thaw, remove a bag from the freezer and place it in a medium bowl in the fridge.

For baked goods:

  • You can freeze cookie dough flat in a zip-top bag, then roll it into balls from frozen (your hands will warm it up enough to roll) and bake it according to the recipe method.
  • Portion out and freeze yeasted doughs, such as pizza dough or bread dough, after the final rise. Thaw in the fridge overnight and let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before you bake according to the recipe method.
  • Biscuits and scones can be shaped, frozen individually and packed in a zip-top bag.

Excerpted from How to Eat with One Hand. Copyright © 2020 by Christine Flynn and Emma Knight. Photography by Suech and Beck. Published by Penguin Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Now that you know how to freeze and thaw foods, check out the fruits and veggies you should consider buying frozen.

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