Surely, freezing food is easy? What could be simpler… open the freezer door, put the food in and close the door. However, it’s not quite so easy if you want to enjoy the food to its fullest once it has defrosted again. Here, we’re looking at what you should take into account when freezing food.
When freezing food, choosing the right kind of packaging is key to preserving freshness; cutting corners with this is not a good idea! Only packaging that maintains the moisture content of the food should be used. Few people realise that, without the correct packaging, food dries out very quickly at low temperatures, and so airtight packaging is absolutely essential. By removing the air and carefully sealing, food is protected from drying out (freezer burn), from oxidation (reacting with oxygen) and from the penetration of microorganisms (microbes) during storage.
What should you consider when choosing frozen food packaging?
The packaging must…
- be food safe. This is indicated by an ‘LE’ sign or a ‘glass and fork’ icon.
- be cold resistant and not become brittle or porous at low temperatures.
- be heat resistant and dishwasher safe if you want to reuse it.
- be tightly sealed to protect against the penetration of oxygen, moisture and odours.
- be totally odourless and taste-neutral.
- be resistant to fats, acids and alkalis.
- be tear resistant but not too rigid.
- be tailored to the size of the frozen food.
- be suitable for specific defrosting processes, such as boiling water, the microwave or the oven.
- have the right shape and size. With flat packaging the cold can quickly penetrate to the heart of the foods being frozen.
Standard boxes, grease-proof paper, transparent film and the like are not suitable for use as packaging in the freezer as they do not meet the above criteria.
If food is insufficiently packaged or not packaged at all, this leads to, what’s known as, freezer burn at temperatures below 0°C. The moisture escapes from the food and is deposited as ice at the coldest parts in the freezer. This loss of moisture makes the frozen food tough and dry, and therefore not at all appetising.
So, always store your frozen food in suitable packaging… it’s the only way you can enjoy its full quality and freshness when it’s been in the freezer for months.