Food Network Kitchen chefs are accustomed to freezing large orders and leftover ingredients. It not only reduces food waste, but it also helps their bottom line. The same can be said for home cooks: A well-stocked icebox is essential for quick weeknight meals and impromptu entertaining. Half the battle is preventing freezer burn. If you want to use something later, you have to wrap it well.
Here’s how Food Network Kitchen chefs keep their chicken cutlets and casseroles frost-free and well-organized.
1. It All Begins with the Right Container
Wrap food twice in plastic wrap, waxed paper, or foil before placing it in a resealable freezer bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible; a vacuum sealer would be ideal.
Are you storing food in a baking dish or a jar? Check that the container is freezer-safe. To prevent freezer burn, place a piece of wrapping directly on the surface of casseroles, soups, and other foods that may be exposed to air.
Leave headspace in jars and cartons for foods; as stock and other liquids freeze, they expand. The final step is to date and identify the contents of each container. After a few months on ice, spaghetti sauce and tomato soup can look very similar.
And Don’t Forget About Defrosting
The method of defrosting something depends on the urgency. Here are the methods recommended by the Food Network Kitchen: Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator for a day or two, or place it in a resealable bag in a bowl of cold water, changing the water frequently and never leaving the food out for more than two hours at a time.
The microwave should only be used as a last resort for foods where doneness isn’t an issue; this method should not be used for steak or chicken.