The holiday season brings with it a huge amount of food waste. This Thanksgiving, Americans likely threw away 203 million pounds of turkey. That’s four Statues of Liberty of turkey. That’s $282 million worth of turkey. And that’s not even counting the green bean casserole no one wanted. What can we do to prevent this kind of waste of our hard-earned cash, of our landfill space, and of the huge amounts of methane gas it produces? (Fact: methane is 20 times better at trapping greenhouse gases than is carbon dioxide.) One way is to stop tossing, and start freezing. Keep your food, and keep yourself from having to buy and prepare another dinner down the line.
What can I freeze?
Pretty much anything, except eggs in shells and canned food still in cans. Also, I personally don’t recommend freezing chicken salad. It gets dry.
How long can I freeze it?
It completely depends on the food. I could lift the complete list from Real Simple, but I just linked ya instead. That article also tells you how long you can refrigerate different food items. Times for cooked foods can be found here.
Does freezing food damage it?
Mostly not, although it depends on how long you leave it frozen, and how well you package it. Vegetables are prone to enzyme deterioration, so consider blanching them (boiling them briefly so they’re partially cooked) before chucking them into the freezer.
How soon should I freeze food?
As soon as you can! The longer you wait, the less fresh it will taste when you thaw it. Freezing doesn’t replenish freshness.
What are the safety factors associated with freezing foods?
If frozen at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, food will not degrade. Freezing does not, however, kill bacteria and microbes that already exist in food; they simply become inactive until thawed. To kill parasites, you must cook food thoroughly, either before or after freezing.
Any other tips?
Let foods cool before freezing them. Label everything—what it is, and when it was frozen. Then organize your freezer well so you can see older items that should be eaten sooner. Make sure you squeeze out as much air as possible, or you risk freezer burn (the food just won’t taste as good). Solid foods do well wrapped in foil. Blanch vegetables before freezing so their enzymes don’t cause them to deteriorate in the freezer. If you cook frozen foods without thawing them first, cooking time will be about 1.5 times longer than usual.