Reader Hadassah is planning to freeze meals in advance of a Bat Mitzvah dinner for about 100 people. She plans on serving quiches and casseroles, but soups and baked goods also freeze well. Here are ten important tips for freezing
Speed is important. The faster you get your food frozen, the fresher it will taste when you serve it. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Don’t plan on freezing too many items at once, and allow space around the item you are freezing. Once the food is solid, you can stack it on top of other foods.
- Choose shallow containers and casserole dishes, for quicker cooling and freezing.
- The freezer temperature should be between 0° and –18° Fahrenheit, or –18° to –28° C.
- Cool foods completely before freezing. For faster cooling, place the pan in cold water. You can cool foods in the refrigerator while still warm, then move them to the freezer.
- Wrap foods carefully to keep liquids in, and air out. Place wax paper between layers so they won’t stick to each other.
- Allow room in containers and bags for food to expand while freezing, but remove any air in plastic bags. Zipper-type bags work well for storage, and can be washed and reused.
- Don’t use aluminum foil to store tomato-based or other acidic foods.
- Allow plenty of time for defrosting in the refrigerator: 24-48 hours for casseroles. You can also reheat frozen or partially frozen food in the oven. Don’t try this with a glass dish. Keep breads well-wrapped while defrosting to keep crusts crisp.
- Cutting casseroles in serving pieces before freezing saves time later, and allows faster freezing and defrosting. But you risk the pieces drying out sooner, or getting too brown in the oven. Rolls and mini-pizzas are easier to store and serve than larger loaves.
- Reheat cooked food thoroughly, to an internal temperature of 165° F. (75° C.). Bring soup to a full boil.
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