Date: May 1989 (Revised April 1995)
Source: NDSU Extension Service Nutrition Specialists
For high quality frozen foods, start with high quality fresh food. Freezing will retain quality, but cannot improve it.
Work under sanitary conditions. Have all necessary equipment and packaging materials ready before you begin to work with the food.
Choose packaging materials that will prevent air contact with the food and moisture loss from it. For semi-fluid foods, use rigid plastic or wide-mouth glass containers you can close tightly. For more solid foods, you can use freezer bags, heat-sealable bags, coated freezer paper or heavy-duty aluminum foil. You can reuse plastic containers originally used for frozen foods if you can clean them thoroughly. Do not reuse paper cartons that originally held milk, cottage cheese or similar products.
Blanch or steam all vegetables and cool them quickly in ice water before freezing. This step inactivates enzymes that will damage flavor, nutrients and texture during freezer storage.
You can freeze fruits with or without sugar. Those you freeze with some sugar however, will have better texture and color. Use an antioxidant like ascorbic acid or citric acid to keep light-colored fruits like apples, peaches, or red cherries from discoloring.
Repackage meats you purchase at the supermarket before freezing them for long-term storage. The wrap used on fresh meats will allow oxygen to contact the surface of the meat. The meat will get freezer burn if you store it in the freezer for more than a few weeks. For short storage, just place the supermarket wrapped meat in a tightly closed plastic bag before freezing.
Freeze foods as quickly as possible. This helps form tiny ice crystals that will not damage the food as much when it is thawed.
Be sure to keep the freezer at 0 degrees F or lower to protect food quality.
Use all products within a reasonable time. Keep an inventory of food in the freezer to help you determine this. As long as food is kept solidly frozen, it will not become unsafe to eat. But it will lose quality during extended storage--nutrients, flavors and appearance will decline.
If you have further questions, contact your county office of the NDSU Extension Service.
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For More Information Contact your North Dakota County Extension Office of the NDSU Extension Service for additional information or see our main NDSU Web Page for publications and articles on Agriculture, Horticulture, Youth and Family, Business and Community and Food and Nutrition at http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/