The Best Freezer Containers  To Protect Your Food

Freezer Containers  To Protect Your Food

The better the quality of your food containers, the better your frozen foods will stay fresh. You get what you pay for! Do you really want to throw your food out due to freezer burn or oxidation? Didn’t think so. So get good stuff. Fortunately, not all of the better containers are expensive. Consider aluminum foil and freezer bags for example.

 

What features to look for in freezer containers

Above all else, your containers have to be moisture and vapor proof. That will prevent the freezer burn, keep odors in and prevent oxidation. Be sure the labels say “freezer quality” or “freezer safe.” You should try to keep a variety of container types in supply, such as rigid, plastic or metal containers, as well as flexible ones like freezer bags and aluminum foil. Keeping some disposable bakeware on hand is also a good idea.

 

Types of freezer storage containers

Vacuum sealers-great for long term. Use the bags and vacuum to suck the air right out. You can see the contents and they are great for meat and produce.

 

Silicone pans- a new concept. Great for high or low temps. You can freeze foods and then go straight to the oven. They’re flexible, so use with a cookie sheet.

Freezer bags-everyone knows about these and you can use them for anything. They’re cheap, so just throw them away when you’re done.

 

Glass bakeware containers-have to be freezer grade. Some will crack, but good ones will go straight from freezer to oven. And they’re re-usable.

Metal pans-These do fine in the freezer, but it’s an expensive proposition when your pans can’t be used because they’re in the freezer. These can also go straight to the oven without thawing.

 

Rigid plastic containers- come in a variety of price and quality. Great for freezing liquids. Good ones go from freezer to oven and are dishwasher safe. Some are even oven safe.

 

Aluminum pans-disposable freezer containers and they work great for give away meals. They’re flexible, so use a cookie sheet underneath. Cheap enough to throw away, but you can re-use them if need be.

 

Freezer wrap-new to the market. Similar to Saran Wrap but in a higher grade suitable for the freezer. And you can see what’s in it.

 

Aluminum foil-perfect for covering and wrapping odd shapes. It can be reused and recycled.

 

Freezer paper-kind of like kraft paper with a plastic side. Great for awkward sizes. Butchers actually use it a lot.

 

Not everything is a freezer quality container

Remember, good containers keep food fresh and not all containers will do that. Don’t ever use waxed paper, plastic wrap or plastic bags in the freezer. The plastic bag that your bread comes in just won’t cut it. Good freezer containers are an investment. Slowly build your collection over time.

 

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Easy Freezer Jam

Portion Of Peach Jam

For busy moms, people new to making jam, and others hoping to try something new, freezer jam is a great place to start. Homemade jam has a fresh flavor that can not be duplicated in store bought versions. Freezer jam is fairly simple and very quick to make. Once made, it can be stored in the refrigerator for a week, or in appropriate containers in the freezer for up to a year. There are a few points to ponder before beginning to produce your own.

Be sure to pick fruit that has ripened to perfection and is in season :

Freezer jam is akin to fresh fruit. To get that freshness of biting into ripe fruit into your creation, you need to pick only ripened, in season fruit. (Strawberry and raspberry are popular choices.) If you choose underripe fruit, your jam will most likely taste sour. It will also not jell enough. If you choose overripe fruit, it will produce a foul tasting concoction that may jell too much.

Pectin allows your jam to jell:

There are two types of pectin:  powdered and liquid. These pectins are not interchangeable. Be sure to follow the recipe you are using to ensure yours will come out correctly.

Using the appropriate containers:

Plastic, freezer proof containers can be used for recipes. You may also use freezer proof glass, wide mouthed jars. Be sure to use small containers.

GINGERED PEACH AND APRICOT JAM:
-3 cups crushed peaches (about 12 small peaches)
-1 cup apricots (about 3 small apricots)
-2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
-1 1/4 cups sugar
-2 Tbsp. lemon juice
-1 packet of powdered pectin (1 envelope)

Mix crushed peaches, apricots, grated ginger and lime juice. Using instant powdered pectin, mix together pectin and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Stir pectin into prepared mixture of mashed fruit for three minutes.

Put jam into appropriate, small, freezer proof containers. Allow jam to set in refrigerator. For extended storage, place containers in freezer, but only after jam has fully set.

Choosing other fruit for your jams:

Using the same basic gingered peach/apricot recipe, you can substitute strawberries or raspberries in place of the apricots for a delicious taste sensation . Be sure to add the same amount of crushed raspberries or strawberries, in place of the same amount of apricots that are called for.

Strawberry and raspberry flavors add a very distinct, fresh taste. As long as you don't double the recipe, as it alters how the finished product jells, you can interchange fruit in the same quantities. Experiment with unusual fruit combinations. And welcome to the tasty world of jam making!

 

Buying a New Freezer

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There are lots of reasons to consider buying a new freezer or refrigerator. Newer models are more energy-efficient and offer better storage options. Often the money saved on energy costs will offset the price of the unit within a year or two. A larger unit will give you plenty of extra space, allowing you to store more pre-made meals and buy sale items in bulk.

If you are thinking about replacing the refrigerator that you have, or perhaps buying a stand-alone unit, there are a few things you should consider in advance.

Have you decided that what you really need is an extra freezer in the garage? If so, you will have to choose between an upright or chest style. A chest style is more energy-efficient and costs less, but it will not give you the easy access to food that an upright will. The second thing to consider is whether to choose manual defrost or self-defrost ("frost free"). It is recommended to leave space between food items in a self-defrost unit for more efficient air flow. A chest style unit will usually hold more, but they are time intensive and usually should be defrosted monthly.

Or maybe you have decided that you want an updated refrigerator with more frozen storage than you now have. The French door style is all the rage at the moment. These new models are quickly replacing the side-by-side. Many feel the side-by-side space is too narrow, which makes it difficult for storing larger items. The French door model has one wide freezer drawer at the bottom. The upper section consists of two doors that open outwards from the middle. Instead of having the width of the unit split in two, the French door opens up to one easy access, large storage space, yet this model takes up less space overall in your kitchen. And of course the more cost effective traditional models with the freezer on top are always an option.

Clearly there are many options to consider before you make the final purchase. If you go out shopping armed with all the right information, you are sure to make the choice that works well for your family. Once you have your new appliance, you can start thinking about all the ways it will save you time and money. Freezing meals that you have cooked in advance will make your day-to-day life so much simpler.

 

Cook Ahead for Easter Dinner

Easter spiral cut ham

Easter dinner is a great time to gather with family and a good way to celebrate the holiday. However, it can also be a stressful time. There are so many dishes to prepare, it can get very hectic. It need not be so, though. This is a great time to make use of your freezer and take the opportunity to make ahead part of your holiday meal.

What portions of the Easter dinner can easily be prepared within the days before the holiday and left in the freezer or refrigerator until the day of the meal? You can actually make many of the dishes that you will want ahead of time.

Dinner rolls are a great way to start your meal. These can easily be made ahead, frozen and reheated when they are needed.

Ham is a classic main dish at Easter dinners. This meat can easily be prepared ahead of time. Cook it a few days in advance, freeze and just reheat it on Easter day. Or you can buy a pre-cooked ham that keeps in the fridge a few days and just needs to be warmed up on Easter.

Another classic holiday food is turkey. Remember to leave adequate time to thaw in the refrigerator any turkey that you have prepared in advance. One of the more efficient approaches is to utilize a turkey breast rather than working with a whole bird. That will allow quicker preparation time as well as shorter thawing time. This works especially well if you are also serving another meat or are having numerous side dishes.

When it comes to side dishes, mashed potatoes are one side dish that often appears on the Easter menu. Fortunately, they are also a dish that can easily be prepared in advance and reheated. Slowly reheating them in a crock pot or preparing oven roasted mashed potatoes are two good paths to getting great results when you reheat them.

What would a holiday meal be without dessert? Pies, especially fruits pies, are ideal candidates for freezing. You can either bake them and then freeze, or you can prepare them and freeze them unbaked. Remember to allow enough time for thawing and baking, especially if they will be competing for your oven space.

With a little bit of cooking in advance, you can enjoy your dinner on Easter with a minimum of stress.

Corn Muffins…Fresh From Your Freezer

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Nothing beats a warm muffin just out of the oven, especially when it is paired with a nice bowl of chili or soup. Corn muffins are simple to make and easy to store in the freezer for a day when there is no time for baking. If you enjoy the taste of corn muffins, why not grab a corn muffin fresh from your freezer anytime? First you will need a good make ahead recipe like the one below.

Now or Later Muffins

1 cup of yellow corn meal
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup of vegetable oil or canola oil
1 cup of milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place paper liners in a 12 muffin pan--this makes clean up easier (if you do not have paper liners, grease the pan). Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together. Beat the egg in a small bowl and add to dry ingredients. Add oil and milk and stir gently until combined. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup about one-half to three fourths full. Place in preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

When the pan cools slightly, carefully remove muffins from pan and place on a wire rack to cool. Once muffins are cool, if paper liners were used, gently remove them from the muffins. Place muffins in large (one gallon) freezer storage bags. Use two bags so muffins will stay in a single layer while freezing. As with any food, make ahead muffins can be kept frozen for months, but it is best to use them sooner for better flavor and quality.

When ready to serve, thaw the muffins at room temperature for at least an hour. Once the muffins thaw they may be eaten at room temperature. If warm muffins are preferred, place them on a baking pan and heat in a 300 degree oven until warm. If you must microwave the muffins, use a low setting since it is easy to overcook them in a microwave oven.

Enjoy these muffins with soup, chili, with a salad or with a drizzle of honey for a quick snack. Once you enjoy these muffins, you will want to keep some on hand.