How to Freeze Anything: Step-by-Step Instructions

Freezing fruits and vegetables is a great way to extend the shelf life of your produce and HGTV's homestead experts can show you how with these easy steps.

May 06, 2020

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

Photo By: Derek R. Trimble

Freezing: The Easiest Way to Preserve at Home

Freezing is probably the most efficient way to preserve your fruits and vegetables at home. You won't need any special tools or kitchen equipment beyond a freezer and a few containers built for the job. But you can't just throw produce into the freezer without a little bit of preparation. Click through the gallery for our tips and tricks to make the most out of your freezing process at home.

Learn More : Can You Freeze It?

Always Start by Washing Your Produce

Since freezing does not sterilize your produce, it's important to thoroughly wash your fruits and vegetables before freezing them. It's a common misconception that freezing temperatures will kill all of the microorganisms in your produce. Putting fruits and vegetables into the freezer only slows down the biological processes that affect the quality and flavor of your foods, along with the changes that cause spoilage. Anything that's on your produce before freezing is likely to still be present when thawed, so it's critical to give everything a thorough wash in cold running water. Most fruits and vegetables can be frozen for up to a year before you start to notice a decline in flavor and texture.

Get Picky About Quality

Knowing that the process of spoilage will somewhat continue in the freezer, it's a good idea to remove any blemishes from your fruits and vegetables before you freeze them. Carefully sort all of your produce to remove anything that's of poor quality, or in any advanced state of spoilage. For produce such as strawberries that bruise easily, thoroughly cut off any parts and pieces that don't make the grade using a sharp, clean knife. Also, be sure to trim off any of the parts you wouldn't normally eat like stems and peels. Prepare your produce just like you normally would before cooking it.

Learn More : How to Freeze Strawberries

Don't Freeze the Peel

Fruits like oranges or bananas are better off when they're peeled before being frozen. If you freeze fruits with the peels intact, it'll be excruciating to remove them after they've done some time in the freezer. It's still a good idea to wash the outsides of those fruits before freezing so that you don't introduce any bacteria while you're working. The general rule with fruits is to prepare them and freeze them as they're intended to be used. So, if you're planning on using your banana for smoothies, it's a good idea to slice them before freezing. If you're using them to make banana splits for the kids, it's OK to freeze them whole.

Learn More : How to Freeze Bananas

Blanch Your Veggies

The vast majority of vegetables will need to be blanched before freezing. Blanching is the process of scalding your vegetables in water for a brief period of time and then rapidly cooling them before freezing. This will stop the process that causes vegetables to lose flavor and color and it will kill many of the microorganisms that are present in your vegetables. Aside from the scientific benefits of blanching, this technique also makes it much easier to pack things into freezer bags or containers. Use one gallon of water for every pound of vegetables you're planning to freeze, and blanch them for the time recommended for that particular vegetable (usually not more than a few minutes).

Freeze First on Trays

Once you're ready to package your prepared fruits or your blanched (and cooled) vegetables, it's a good idea to freeze them before putting them into containers. Spread your produce out on a non-stick baking sheet so that they're laid out in one even layer. Then, place them into the freezer for an hour or two so that they're frozen hard. Once frozen, package your produce into your desired containers and portions. Doing this will ensure that everything remains loose and not frozen together in one large mass and makes using your frozen goods so much easier.

Pack Your Containers

When filling rigid containers for things with a high liquid content, you need to leave some room for things to expand. It's always a good idea to leave about 1/2 of an inch at the top of most rigid containers in that situation. If you've tray packed everything as mentioned in the previous slide, you can pack things tighter because they're already frozen and have done as much expanding as they're likely to do. With everything frozen before packing, it's a good idea to squeeze as much excess air out of the container before returning it to the freezer. Removing air from a container reduces the conditions for freezer burn and will help your produce stay fresh for a longer period of time.

Learn More : How to Freeze Green Beans

Use Freezer Bags

Freezer bags are a time-tested container for sorting foods in the freezer and it's easy to see why. They're incredibly handy, they have the labels printed right on them, they're easy to see through and they're cheap. Like anything else, all of those benefits come with some trade-offs. Inexpensive freezer bags don't always remain closed when getting jostled around in the freezer and they're also susceptible to puncture. A busted freezer bag can turn your freezer into a total mess in short order. They're also sometimes hard to organize since they don't have much structure and often become difficult to stack and sort. While you can re-use your freezer bags, they can be difficult to wash and dry, and you can only use the label on the outside once before reverting to freezer tape.

Rigid Containers: Perfect for the Organizer

Stackable plastic or glass containers are a fantastic alternative to freezer bags. They come in a wide array of shapes and sizes and you can get them with color-coded lids so you can easily discern their contents without having to dig around in your freezer. When choosing any rigid container, make sure freezing is one of its recommended uses. Containers made from inferior grade materials will burst when frozen, and have the potential to make a big mess in your freezer. Also, it's a good idea to use containers that have locking or screw-on lids so that they don't pop off in the freezer and spill your precious blueberries all over the place.

Is Vacuum Packing Better?

Vacuum sealers are wildly popular tools for freezing foods and it's easy to see why. They remove most of the air from your produce and can, in some instances, extend the life of frozen goods. They're less likely to pop open since they have a permanent, physical seal and since the air is pulled out they take a little less space than a conventional freezer bag. It's important to remember that vacuum sealing your produce is not a substitute for proper preparation or storage. While the removal of excess air will help prevent freezer burn and extend the freezer life of your produce, the processes that cause decay are still present, so take care to store your vacuum packed foods accordingly.

Don't Forget to Label It

Before you put your produce (or anything, really) into the freezer, do yourself a favor and label it thoroughly. Ideally, you should identify the contents of your container, its quantity or volume, the date you prepared it and a "use by" date. All of that information will help you know what's in your freezer at a glance, and help you rotate your inventory so that you can use things before they spoil. Remember that most things are only good for a year, so when you add new things to your freezer, move older items to the front so that they'll get used first and nothing will go to waste.

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