This article is from the Food Preserving FAQ, by Eric Decker firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
INGREDIENTS AND COOKING TIME: Use only ingredients of the best quality.
Prepare foods in the usual way but shorten the cooking time for most of
them. Cook meat and vegetables until barely tender and take from the heat
The tissues will soften further during the cooling, freezing, and
reheating. If completely cooked before they are frozen, meat and
vegetables may be too soft when served. Long cooking also causes
unnecessary losses of flavor and aroma.
DO NOT INCLUDE POTATOES OR SOME TYPES OF RICE. Potatoes are not
satisfactory in combination dishes which are to be frozen. The texture
is poor after freezer storage and reheating. It is better to cook and
add them when the frozen food is prepared for serving.
In certain combination dishes quick-cooking rice and regular rice tend
to be mushy when they are reheated after being frozen. Converted rice has
been found to retain its shape and texture better.
COOL COOKED FOODS QUICKLY. After a food is cooked, cool it quickly to room
temperature. Place the cooking pan in a larger pan of ice water or cold
running water and stir occasionally. If the food is in a heavy kettle, you
can cool it more quickly by transferring it to one of the lighter weights.
CLEANLINESS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Since freezing does not kill all
microorganisms, strive to keep the number in the food as low as possible
during preparation. Use clean utensils and sanitary methods of handling
Keep the food covered during cooking, and loosely covered during cooling.
Package the product as soon as it reaches room temperature and freeze
PACKAGE CAREFULLY. Several types of containers are suitable for combination
dishes. However, the longer the product is to be held in freezer storage
the more moisture- and vapor-proof the package must be. Cylindrical cartons
with slip-on lids and tub-type containers are easy to fill but they may not
be air-tight. Rectangular cartons with plastic or plastic laminated foil bags
which can be tightly sealed with paper-covered wire closures, rubber bands,
or heat are more moisture and vapor-proof. Glass jars designed as containers
for freezing, tin cans, or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids afford
good protection against moisture loss and are easy to use. Freezer-to-table
cookware can be overwrapped with plastic or aluminum foil for a tight seal.
Some of the heavier plastic wraps now available are suitable for
freezer storage. Those made with polyvinylidene chloride (such as Saran
wrap) have been rated as excellent and are suitable for long-term storage.
Those made with polyethylene (such as Glad and Handi-Wrap) are suitable
for short-term storage. Those made with polyvinyl chloride (such as
Reynolds Plastic) are poor choices because they are not moisture and
vapor proof. Plastic-coated paper freezer wrap is suitable for solid foods.
(Formore details, see Consumer Reports, March, 1983.)
For food that is packaged solid be sure to leave space at the top of
the container for the contents to expand during freezing. Leave 1/2 inch
for a pint container, 1 inch for a quart.
FREEZE IMMEDIATELY. Put packaged foods in the home freezing unit without
delay. The temperature in the home freezing unit should be 0 F or lower.
DO NOT STORE TOO LONG. The shorter the period of freezer storage, the more
appetizing these foods will be. (See table of recommended storage
times - LEB) While some foods usually do maintain quality longer than
is indicated, undesirable changes may take place during freezer storage.
Some fats tend to become rancid rather quickly. Separation may occur in
sauces and gravies. Onion and black pepper become stronger and salt loses
flavor. With all foods there is a gradual loss of flavor, aroma, and
natural texture. Be sure to write the date of preparation on every package
and make a record of the packages you put in the freezer so you will not
leave them there too long.
PREPARE FOR SERVING. To reheat frozen cooked food, use the method which
will affect its appearance and texture the least. A double boiler is best
for combination dishes. A saucepan can be used if the food is partly
defrosted and then heated carefully. With either method do not stir food
more than necessary. Plastic wraps can be used in microwave reheating only
with foods that are low in sugar and fat. High-fat and high-sugar foods
can become hot enough to melt the plastic.
Use all defrosted and reheated foods at the current meal. Further
holding and reheating is not recommended.