Freezing food stops the growth of micro-organisms and enzymes which lead to the spoilage of food. When food is frozen at -18°C or lower it can keep indefinitely, however for most foods, after an extended period of time it will deteriorate in quality. Here are something to consider when freezing food to be defrosted and consumed at a later date –
- Make sure that hot food has fully cooled down before placing it in the freezer. If food is placed in hot, the overall temperature of the freezer can increase, jeopardising the quality of the food already in there.
- Wrap up food properly or place it in a sealed container to avoid freezer- burn.
- Freeze food in manageable portions as this will help when it comes to defrosting it.
- Label food wherever possible, this will allow you to know when the food is still going to be good to defrost and consume.
- If you are planning to store fresh food such as raw meat in the freezer, be sure to freeze it as soon as possible. Freezing food stops the growth of bacteria, but it won’t kill bacteria that already exists with the food.
Most food can be frozen without problem, and as long as it is then defrosted properly, will retain its freshness and be safe to eat at a later date. Foods which a great for freezing include raw and cooked meat and poultry, raw and cooked seafood, raw pastry, cooked rice, milk and bread amongst other things.
Foods which don’t freeze too well on the other hand include, raw and hard boiled eggs, fruit and vegetables with a high water content such as cucumber and radishes and soft herbs such as chives and basil. Egg based sauces such as mayonnaise also unsuitable for freezing as the ingredients within them tends to separate when frozen.
Food can be defrosted in three different ways; in the fridge, in cold water, and by microwaving. Defrosting food in the fridge tends to be the safest and most convenient option, as most food can just be left in the fridge for 24 hours and then it will be ready to cook. This method of defrosting is recommended for larger portions of meat, poultry and fish. When defrosted using this method, meat, poultry and fish can be stored in the fridge for a further 2 days.
Cold water thawing is much faster than using the fridge, but it does require more of your attention. Small amounts of food can be defrosted quickly using this method. The food (bagged) should be submerged in cold water and monitored every 30 minutes. Food should never be defrosted in warm water. This method of defrosting is recommended for small portions of food which are going to be cooked immediately after defrosting. Food should not be defrosted this way and then placed in the fridge.
The fastest method to defrost anything is via microwave. However, when defrosting food this way it can become partially cooked if you’re not careful. The microwave should be set to ‘Defrost’ if this method is to be used.
Once you have defrosted food such as raw meat, it is safe to refreeze it once again after it has been cooked. It is not recommended to refreeze thawed out meat which hasn’t yet been cooked.