Freezing


Freezing is one of the easiest ways to store food long term. Many types of produce require little preparation before they are stashed away, and food safety is generally assured as long as the freezer stays plugged in. Almost everyone already has a small freezer attached to the refrigerator in their home. And the learning curve is almost nonexistent: Even kids are already familiar with some of the basic techniques of freezing.

Many of us keep vegetables, as well as berries and other small fruits, in the freezer. But some of the things that live in my freezer may be more surprising: grilled and chopped onions and peppers, baggies filled with cubes of pestos and other purees, herb butters, stocks, and even cherry tomatoes.
Freezing is one of the easiest ways to store food long term. The learning curve is almost nonexistent: Even kids are already familiar with some of the basic techniques. Learn more about freezing food.
With freezing, the primary issue is often space: If you’re limited to a fridge-and-freezer unit, you have to be highly selective. In my 500-square-foot house, I found room for a 5.5-cubic-foot chest freezer—which I still manage to pack to the lid by fall. But you can always find space for a few things. Some tools and techniques can also help to make you a freezing queen or king.

Tips & Tricks

Posts on this site include tips and tricks for freezing the foods found in the given recipes. But there are a few things to keep in mind every time you plan to freeze garden goodies.
Freezing is one of the easiest ways to store food long term. The learning curve is almost nonexistent: Even kids are already familiar with some of the basic techniques. Learn more about freezing food.

  • Packaging is important. Some techniques call for freezing on an open tray initially, but for long-term storage, use freezer-strength bags or containers.
  • Cool any cooked food before you freeze it; the colder it is when it enters the freezer, the better it will look and taste later. Warm food can also affect your freezer temperature; freezers need to stay at or below 0°F to keep ensure quality and safety.
  • A full freezer is an efficient freezer, so don’t be afraid to pack things tightly once they are frozen.
  • Food expands as it freezes, so be sure to leave headspace in your bags or containers. Generally, 1/2 inch is sufficient, but leave a little more room if the container is a quart or larger or if it has a narrow opening. “Burp” lidded containers and squeeze extra air out of bags.
  • Be sure to label the bag or container while it’s at room temperature, noting at minimum the item and date: pizza sauce and red curry paste look awfully similar after a few months in the freezer, and you may get more heat than you bargain for if you grab the wrong one.
  • If you have a large or full freezer, consider organizing it or even keeping a list of its contents. My above-fridge freezer is reserved for things that are in constant use and only holds one bag or container of each item; when I finish a bag, I restock from my chest freezer, which holds the entire season’s supply. The smaller freezer has a couple of plastic shoeboxes that hold like items; the larger one does the same in plastic baskets.
  • Most frozen foods taste best when eating within a year. They’re still safe to eat if they get “lost” in the freezer, but they are more likely to lose flavor or develop freezer burn. I do my best to use up each produce type before I start adding the next season’s batch to the freezer.