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    Apr 30, 2020

    A Comprehensive (But Very Doable) Guide To Freezing Your Groceries So They Last Longer

    Freezer burn? Never knew her.

    Skip ahead by clicking on these links to find out how you should freeze:

    Apples | Avocado | Bananas | Berries | Broccoli | Cabbage | Cauliflower | Carrots | Celery | Cheese | Corn | Eggs | Garlic | Ginger | Green Beans | Green Onions | Heavy Cream | Leafy Greens (Like Spinach or Kale) | Lemon or Lime Slices | Melon | Milk | Mushrooms | Onions | Peppers | Potatoes | Rice | Squash | Tomatoes

    Brooke Greenberg/BuzzFeed

    Welcome to the world of freezing fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy. It will be so worth it.

    Having frozen produce on hand will cut down on your grocery bill and save you time on practically all of your future cooking and dishwashing endeavors. It's a gift from Present You to Future You.

    Unfortunately, in order to avoid putting serious time (and money!) into a meal only to find that every forkful contains that certain essence of freezer burn, there are right ways and wrong ways to freeze different types of foods, and not all fruits and vegetables are created equal.

    The first thing you should know is that freezing food inevitably changes the texture.

    So it's good to have some foresight into what you might be using the frozen thing for. Salads and garnishes? No. A hearty stew? Definitely. Frozen margaritas? Hell yes.

    The second thing you should know is that liquids expand in the freezer (and fruits and vegetables contain a lot of secret liquid).

    goingzerowaste.com

    So you want to avoid filling anything up to the very brim.

    You can freeze things in mason jars, but you should always leave at least an inch or two of space or else your jar could explode in the freezer. Metal lids will also rust in a freezer environment, so if you're going this route, you might want to invest in some plastic lids.

    Another important tip: water = freezer burn.

    It totally makes sense when you think about eating around those gross ice crystals that grow inside a pint of ice cream. When you can, ensure that you're getting any extra moisture off of your veggies and fruits before freezing, especially if they are freshly washed or blanched.

    Final couple of tips: Get as much air out of your Ziploc (or reusable) bags before freezing as you can. And write the date on the outside.

    Pro tip: stick a straw through the top of your bag before sealing and suck out all the air.

    Now onto the basics: The two main methods of freezing are "flash-freezing" and "blanching."

    Any fruit or vegetable that you are cutting up and prepping prior to freezing needs to be flash-frozen to avoid later having to deal with an untenable frozen mass.

    Any vegetable that has a lot of water content needs to be blanched before freezing in order to preserve color, texture, and nutrients. We'll go through these two methods below.

    Brooke Greenberg/BuzzFeed

    Most likely, you'll want to cut and prep your fruits and veggies before freezing. Flash-freezing prevents your prepped fruits and vegetables from sticking together into one impossible ice block that is a huge pain to break apart and thaw later on. The process goes something like:

    - Wash and cut your fruit or veggies in whatever style you will want to consume them in the future.

    - Spread out on parchment paper atop a sheet tray (or anything flat...you could even use a cutting board) and place the whole thing uncovered in the freezer for a few hours.

    - Transfer produce to a freezer-safe bag for long-term freezer storage.

    You'll want to flash-freeze chopped onions, green onions, lemon slices, peppers, cheese, berries, melon chunks, bananas, avocado, and (cooked) mushrooms.

    How to Freeze Onions

    sustainablecooks.com / Via Sustainable Cooks

    Flash-freeze diced onions in a flat layer for a few hours or overnight before transferring them into a freezer-safe bag. You might want to store your frozen onions away from fruit or any other food that you wouldn't want leeching onion smell/taste. You might want to double bag just in case.

    Think of all the tears you'll save!

    Use it for: Pretty much anything and everything, as long as the dish doesn't involve eating the onions raw.

    How to prepare before using: Your diced onion will thaw quickly when cooking, so no need to thaw first.

    Instructions: How to Freeze Onions

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    How to Freeze Green Onions or Scallions

    happymoneysaver.com

    Chop up onions and flash-freeze in a single layer for 2-3 hours. Transfer to a freezer-safe container or plastic bottle — now you can shake out a little bit at a time when you need it.

    Use it for: Pretty much anything and everything, as long as the dish doesn't involve eating the onions raw.

    How to prepare before using: Chopped onion will thaw quickly when cooking, so no need to thaw first.

    Instructions: How to Freeze Green Onions or Scallions

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    How to Freeze Lemon Slices

    youtube.com

    You want to do a similar process as above: freezing the slices in a single layer first. This way they don't stick and freeze together. Because there's liquid involved here, you also want to pat the slices with a paper towel or cloth to absorb any excess moisture.

    Use it for: Lemon water, hot tea, iced tea, cocktails.

    How to prepare before using: If dropping in liquid, you can drop the slices in frozen. If for some reason you need to thaw, leave at room temperature for an hour.

    Instructions: How to Freeze Lemon Slices

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    How to Freeze Peppers

    How to Freeze Cheese

    dessertnowdinnerlater.com

    While you can freeze whole blocks of cheese, you might find that the cheese becomes crumbly and difficult to slice after thawing, so I recommend pre-shredding.

    Freeze shredded cheese into useable portions. To prevent the shreds from sticking to each other, shake in about one tablespoon of cornstarch before freezing or use the flash-freeze method. Store for up to 3 months.

    Use it for: Best in any dish you want "melty" cheese for, like pizza or mac and cheese.

    How to prepare before using: To thaw, place in your fridge overnight or leave it on the counter for around 30 minutes. You can also use frozen if it's going on a dish that's going to get melty (like pizza).

    Instructions: How to Freeze Cheese

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    How to Freeze Strawberries and Other Berries

    How to Freeze Cantaloupe (works for pretty much any melon)

    How to Freeze Bananas

    How to Freeze Avocado (Mashed, Cubed, or Halved)

    How to Freeze Mushrooms

    montereymushrooms.com

    Slice your mushrooms and sauté for about 7 minutes (if you don't do this step, your mushrooms will get all mushy when they thaw). Flash-freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan for about 30 minutes. Transfer to a freezer-safe container.

    Cook method: Sauté.

    Cook time: 7 minutes.

    Use it for: Stir-fries, soups, bakes, casseroles.

    How to prepare before using: Throw in a hot dish, no need to thaw.

    Instructions: How to Freeze Mushrooms

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    Brooke Greenberg/BuzzFeed

    It's recommended to blanche high water content vegetables before freezing. To blanche or not to blanche is your choice, but blanching will 1) help your food last twice as long in the freezer 2) kill off any lingering germs 3) better preserve flavor and texture.

    The process goes something like:

    - Wash and cut your veggies.

    - Boil water. Once boiling, cook or steam veggies to the point where they're cooked through but still retain their original color (I'll specify below which method to use for each vegetable, and for how long).

    - Dunk in a bath of ice water to stop the cooking process.

    - Once drained and cooled, blot off any extra moisture and transfer to a freezer-safe bag for long-term freezer storage.

    You'll want to blanche leafy greens, celery, corn, carrots, cabbage, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans.

    How to Freeze Leafy Greens (For Long-Term Preservation)

    sustainablecooks.com

    Once you've chopped your leafy greens (and de-stemmed if working with kale), you'll want to blanche it. Squeeze out any excess water with your hands and flash-freeze clumps in a muffin tin for about two hours. Remove the pucks, and freeze in a freezer-safe bag. The pucks should last 6 months.

    Blanche method: Steam or boil (steaming will result in less wetness to remove before freezing)

    Cook time: 2 minutes.

    Use it for: Stir-fry, pesto, sauces, smoothies.

    How to prepare before using: Place bag in a bowl of cold water to thaw. It will also cook down quickly in a hot dish.

    Instructions: How to Freeze Leafy Greens for the Long-Term

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    How to Freeze Celery

    sustainablecooks.com

    Use blanching method if you plan on storing celery longer than 2 months. Otherwise, flash-freezing should be sufficient.

    Prep and chop celery. Blanche in boiling water for 3 minutes before dropping celery into an ice bath with a slotted spoon. Remove excess moisture and flash-freeze on a sheet tray for 2 hours. Transfer to freezer-safe bags.

    Blanche method: Boil.

    Cook time: 3 minutes.

    Use it for: Soups, stews, hot dishes.

    How to prepare before using: No need to thaw if using in a hot dish.

    Instructions: How to Freeze Celery

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    How to Freeze Corn

    How to Freeze Carrots

    How to Freeze Cabbage

    How to Freeze Zucchini or Yellow Squash

    How to Freeze Broccoli (This method also works for cauliflower and green beans.)

    acleanbake.com

    Cut clean broccoli into florets and blanche in boiling water (or steam). Next, flash-freeze the florets in a single layer on a sheet pan for a few hours. Transfer to freezer-safe bags and freeze.

    Blanche method: Boil or steam.

    Cook time: 3 minutes.

    Use it for: Stir-fry, sauces, soups., casseroles.

    How to prepare before using: Throw it into a hot dish, no need to thaw first.

    Instructions: How to Freeze Broccoli

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    Brooke Greenberg/BuzzFeed

    Find out the best ways to freeze ginger (absolutely GAMECHANGING), eggs, tomatoes, garlic, milk or heavy cream, leafy greens, apples, potatoes, and rice.

    How to Freeze Ginger Root

    premeditatedleftovers.com

    Peel your ginger root, place in a Ziploc bag, and freeze.

    Whenever you need to use ginger in a dish, just grate or zest the frozen root into your cooking. Frozen ginger is actually easier to grate than fresh ginger.

    How to prepare before using: No need to thaw. Just grate or zest wherever you need it. You may need to slice or grate off any outside skin first.

    Instructions: How to Freeze Ginger Root

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    How to Freeze Eggs

    Robyn Stone / Robyn Stone addapinch.com

    Spray down a muffin tin with nonstick spray. Crack eggs individually into each receptacle and freeze for 30 minutes to an hour (until liquid has solidified). Remove eggs and store in a freezer-safe bag.

    Use it for: scrambled eggs, baking, and quiches.

    How to prepare before using: Allow to thaw in a bowl in the fridge overnight before use. Or soak the whole bag in cold water.

    Instructions: How to Freeze Eggs

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    How to Freeze Tomatoes

    kitchentreaty.com

    Puree your tomatoes in a blender or food processor and pour into a muffin tin sprayed with non-stick spray. Flash-freeze the muffin tin until the liquid is frozen. Slide pucks out and store in freezer-safe bags.

    Use it for: Soups, pasta sauces, chilis.

    How to prepare before using: Let it thaw in a bowl for an hour, or use the microwave if you're in a rush.

    Instructions: How to Freeze Tomatoes

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    How to Freeze Garlic

    How to Freeze Heavy Cream or Milk

    littlehouseliving.com

    You can freeze heavy cream or milk in ice cube trays. You could also store in a mason jar, just be sure to leave a couple inches of space at the top to account for expansion.

    Use it for: Sauces, hot coffee, soup, smoothies.

    How to prepare before using: Toss into smoothies frozen. To thaw, leave overnight in the fridge or soak the jar in cold water for about 30 minutes.

    Instructions: How to Freeze Heavy Cream

    Instructions: How to Freeze Milk

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    How to Freeze Spinach or Kale (For Short-Term Preservation)

    unsophisticook.com

    If you're willing to use your leafy greens within the next 4-6 weeks, just storing it in a freezer-safe bag should be fine. Just be sure to soak up any excess moisture and get as much air out as possible.

    There's no need to flash-freeze since a bag full of spinach will likely cook down to a useable portion anyway.

    Use it for: Smoothies, stir-fries, pasta dishes, sauces

    Instructions: How to Freeze Leafy Greens for the Short Term

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    How to Freeze Apples

    How to Freeze Potatoes

    How to Freeze Rice

    budgetbytes.com

    Once you've made a ton of rice, let it cool and partition into singular servings in freezer-safe bags.

    How to Prepare Before Using: You can reheat on the stove or in the microwave with a little water.

    Instructions: How to Freeze Rice

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    Finally, here's a handy chart of frozen food storage windows.