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Freezer 101: Safe and tasty freezing

The freezer is a great tool for preserving foods you aren’t ready to eat immediately. But freezing runs the risk of becoming a health hazard as well as a taste faux pas if done improperly. Read on to learn more about how to properly freeze and thaw all your favourite foods.

Frozen peas


Safe freezing is never more important than when it comes to meat. Improperly freezing and defrosting meat can not only cause the product to taste off, but leave you feeling ill. The best thing you can do when it comes to defrosting meat is to plan ahead. That way you can give your meat the 24–48 hours it needs to safely defrost in the refrigerator. What’s also good about this method is that meats thawed in the fridge can be safely refrozen. If you’re short on time, place the meat in a sealed bag, fill the sink or a deep container with cold water and place the bag in the cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes or so until the meat has thawed thoroughly. In extreme circumstances you can defrost meat by microwave or other means of cooking, but it must be fully cooked before it can be frozen again if desired. The United States Department of Agriculture advises to avoid thawing meat on the counter.

Fruits and vegetables

Produce can feel a little soggy after it thaws, and that can make it hard to slice. Make things easier for yourself by chopping up fruits and vegetables and placing them in freezer bags or resealable containers before putting them in the freezer. Freezing is a great way to avoid throwing out produce that is about to pass its prime. The texture won’t be appealing to consume raw once the produce has thawed, but the fruits and veggies will still be usable for blending into smoothies, baking into treats or tossing into stir-fries.

Dairy products

Unfortunately some dairy products freeze better than others. Butter, for example, can be frozen for months and appear entirely unchanged when thawed in the fridge. Milk, on the other hand, can become flaky when defrosted due to the separation of fats. Reader’s Digest recommends freezing cheese in blocks of 450 grams or less or shredding cheese prior to freezing. Ultimately it’s a matter of taste when it comes to freezing dairy products. And in a worst-case scenario, that flaky milk or yogourt may be just fine to cook with!

Breads, bagels and buns

Breads, bagels and buns freeze very well, which is ideal, because it means you don’t have to worry about inhaling a whole loaf before it expires. A day or two before bread is set to expire, place it in the freezer. You won’t necessarily be able to use it as sandwich bread once thawed, but there will be virtually no difference in taste or appearance when it is toasted. So pop it in the toaster, and enjoy!

more on Cooking safety

How to tell if your food is fresh
Create a safer cooking area
Kitchen kids: Ways your child can help in the kitchen

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