Freezing can keep food fresh
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There are many different ways of preserving food for longer term storage. The goal of any preservation method is to keep food fresh for consumption at a later date. We have previously discussed how to do that via dehydration.

Today we will discuss freezing fresh food. Frozen food from the store has already been conditioned and needs no further processing until ready to eat.

The easiest and most common method used by almost every household is freezing. We buy frozen food, cook meals ahead and store them in the freezer, and even store leftovers for later.

In this post we will discuss the ways to preserve fruits, vegetables, and meats by freezing. We’ll also give you some tips and tricks to use, and pitfalls to avoid.

Freezing Fresh Fruits

Because of their high moisture content, fruits tend to turn to mush after freezing and thawing. When water freezes, it expands. The water inside fruits is no exception. This causes the cell walls that provide form and texture for the fruit to burst. The end result is mushy fruit when thawed.

The benefit to freezing fruits is to use them in smoothies where you want a soft, cold finished product. Mushiness isn’t a problem when the food will be blended anyway.

Fruits typically frozen for smoothies

  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Mangoes
  • Peaches

Some fruits are also frozen prior to dehydrating as a way to condition them for proper drying or to improve the ease of preparation. This process works especially well with berries .

Freezing Fresh Vegetables

Vegetables will have the same moisture-induced problems as fruits. Since the point of freezing is keeping food fresh, you’ll want to properly prepare your vegetables before throwing them in the freezer.

Vegetables that are firm on the outside such as peas, green beans, carrots, and corn will hold up better to freezing. Thinner-skinned vegetables such as spinach, celery, onions, etc. will be softer and slightly mushy when thawed. These thin-skinned vegetables work better when cooked from their frozen state.


Regardless of the type of vegetable you are freezing, most of the time, they should be blanched first. This stops the action of the enzymes that causes them to lose flavor, nutrition and texture – to spoil. Blanching also helps vegetables to retain their bright color and remove any dirt left on the surface.

Blanching is done by steaming or boiling vegetables for a specific time. Some vegetables do better with steaming instead of boiling. Each type of vegetable has a different blanching time. For a table of blanching times for vegetables, see the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.

Take care to blanch for the proper time. Under-blanching activates the enzymes and is actually worse than not blanching at all. Over-blanching cooks out all the nutrients and leaves vegetables dull and flavorless.

When blanching by boiling, make sure you don’t overfill the blanching pot with vegetables. Once the water is boiling, add the vegetables and return to a boil. It should take 1 minute to return to a boil. If it takes longer, you have added too many vegetables. Once the water is boiling again, start the timer for the time the vegetable needs.

I don’t usually blanch onions, celery, or peppers before freezing. I use frozen onions and celery as a quick alternative to chopping fresh. Frozen peppers are great in salads, salsas, and stir-fry’s. Flash freezing helps them to retain some crunch that would be gone if blanched.

Flash Freezing

The best way to freeze produce with a high water content is to flash freeze. You can lay the chopped pieces in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Set it in the freezer for about an hour. Once the outside of the food is hard enough, the pieces can be put in a regular airtight container for freezing. This will keep the pieces from becoming one big, solid blob in a bag or container.


I find this method especially helpful for peppers, celery, onions, and fruit. I do not blanch those vegetables, but I will blanch most others. Flash freezing is also helpful for vegetables that have been blanched if you want to keep them from sticking together in a blob.

Freezing Raw Meats

One of the most common items people freeze is meats. Here are a few tips for retaining freshness and texture with your meats.

Individual servings of meat freeze better in vacuum seal bags.
  • Always repackage your meat when you bring it home from the store. Store packages are not suitable for freezing and will promote freezer burn and spoilage.
  • The area under any label on the store package will also change the meat’s color and spoil faster, in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Cut and prepare meat before freezing. It is easier to divide into portions before it is frozen solid.
  • Freeze some meats in individual portions. This is especially true for steaks, chicken, and pork chops. You will be able to thaw just the number of portions you need for your meal.
  • Freeze meats in vacuum sealed bags. These are more effective than butcher paper or Ziploc bags. They are also easier and quicker to thaw.

Freezer Burn

One of the biggest threats to keeping food fresh by freezing is “freezer burn.” Freezer burn is when the moisture in the food forms ice crystals on the food. The ice then evaporates and leaves the food with a different texture and in some instances a bad taste.

Freezer burn is accelerated by the presence of air in the food container. The best way to combat freezer burn is to reduce the air in the package with the food. The most effective way to do this is using a vacuum seal machine.

Watch out for the resealable zip top vacuum seal bags, though. The mechanism on the bag used to vacuum the air is not very durable and can easily come off when jostled in the freezer. This lets air in and defeats the purpose of sealing the food in a bag.

Food that has freezer burn is still safe to eat, it just may have a slightly different texture. I have found that using the freezer burnt food in dishes with lots of liquids help rehydrate the food and provide a better texture and eating experience.

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