A friend is reading the Young Readers Edition of Omnivore’s Dilemma with her daughter and just wrote in asking for advice on what freezes well and what doesn’t. A city dweller, she doesn’t have the luxury of extra space for a stand-alone freezer and is also wondering how to use the precious space she does have.
Questions like this make my day. If I can help her on this journey, she’ll affect others (her daughters, her friends, etc.) and they’ll affect others, until there’s a butterfly effect on the way that food in our country is produced, packaged and consumed. We’re part of a community, after all, and we all succeed when one person succeeds.
To answer her first question, I recommend a paper by the National Center for Home Food Preservation called Foods that Don’t Freeze Well. Potatoes, celery and sour cream are listed, along with other items that come out of the freezer worse for the wear. Many foods that do freeze well (corn, green beans) should be blanched, cooled and dried before freezing. Others, like diced tomatoes or onions, can be put in raw. Berries should be frozen, unwashed, in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then transferred to another container; this prevents them from clumping together. Just remember to wash them when you take them out. Always mark the date on the container or bag, and use all produce within a year.
For more info, check out a post I wrote earlier this month called Summer in January, aka Freezing 101. There’s also a link to a helpful article in The Washington Post on the do’s and don’ts of freezing.
When you talk about freezing, you can’t help but talk about what to freeze in. Last year, SeedtoSpoon readers debated the problems of freezing in plastic bags, given the potential hazards of the plastic. I still use Ziploc bags, but I put the contents in after they’re cool and don’t thaw them in the microwave or in hot water. If you take the plastic bag route, remember to double bag your food and squeeze out the excess air. To find this string of posts and comments, click here.
Her second question — what to devote your small freezer to — deserves an answer all its own. More on that later this week. In the meantime, any advice for my friend? Has anyone frozen something that didn’t come out well?