Get to Know Your Freezer
When you’re trying to get healthy with whole-food meals on the table every night, the freezer can become your best friend. That is, if you know what to do with it.
It needs to be cold enough to make sure food is safe. The ideal temp is 0-degrees Fahrenheit, according to Certified Holistic Chef and cookbook author Laura Lea Goldberg of the popular blog LLBalanced.com.
Freeze fruit, vegetables, and soups in zip-top storage bags in a thin layer and place horizontally in the freezer. “This way, you can stack multiple bags, as well as easily break off pieces to use,” Goldberg says. I suggest double-layering the bags to prevent freezer burn if you plan to keep them in there longer than a week.” Pre-chopped frozen vegetables can save a lot of time in later recipes, and also help eliminate produce waste.
For quick meals, freeze individual portion sizes in plastic pint containers, which you can order in bulk online. “If you plan for an item to be in the freezer longer than a week, double-bag it or wrap it with plastic wrap before putting it in a container,” Goldberg says.
Labeling the bags and containers with the contents and cook date also ensures safe eating. “Make some sort of symbol that denotes if a food is about to go bad, and that’s why you froze it. If you take it out to thaw, you’ll know you need to eat it ASAP,” Goldberg says. Keep a notepad or whiteboard in your kitchen that lists everything you have in your freezer so you don’t have to go rummaging around when deciding what to make for dinner.
Once you decide what you want to eat, thaw the food in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. A warm counter increases the likelihood of harmful bacteria.
Not everything can be chilled safely. Things to avoid freezing include water rich foods (like lemon, lime, tomato, and cucumber), dairy products (like yogurt, soft cheeses, sour cream, and milk), fresh herbs, onions, peppers, artichokes, radishes, sprouts, salad greens, uncooked, rice, canned fish, and hard-boiled eggs.
Everything else? You should be fine.
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