Mushy veg? Yuck. Freezer-burnt meat? Double yuck. The
freezer is fab for keeping our leftover foods safe for later consumption, yet sometimes
the defrosted outcome can be disappointing.
The good news: this needn’t be the case. With a few tweaks
to our freezing and defrosting routines, we can have meals that are as tasty
coming out of the freezer for a second sitting as they were freshly prepared.
Using up frozen leftovers in family meals is green, frugal
and nourishing – and it needn’t be a punishment! Read on to find out how the
experts do it…
How does food get
damaged when freezing and defrosting?
>> The science
behind soggy reheated food: when leftovers freeze too slowly, big ice
crystals form within the food and tear up the structure of the cells. When you
come to defrost, the ice inside the food melts, the cells collapse and the
reheated meal is left mushy and generally unappetising.
>> The science
behind freezer-burnt meat stuffs: freezer burn is caused by air reaching
and dehydrating sections of the meat. This doesn’t make the leftovers unsafe to
eat, so no need to chuck, however you should remove any freezer burnt sections
before cooking the remainder.
The solution: plain
old resealable freezer bags
If you’ve been throwing your leftovers into any old
container before freezing, prepare for a taste revolution!
Look for products labelled specifically as ‘freezer bags’ in
the supermarket or grocery shop. Freezer bags feature airtight seals, fairly
thick plastic sides and are designed with greater durability than ordinary
‘storage bags’. With a little care, you should be able to wash and reuse them
The technique: freeze
flat, pressing out as much air as possible!
1. Firstly, label your bag with a permanent marker, making
sure to include the date. Open your freezer bag and fold the top few inches
back on themselves to create a ‘sack’. This little trick helps to keep the seal
clean as you fill the bag and gives the sides some additional rigidity.
2. Fill the bag around two-thirds full, judging by eye. Fold
the sides back up and seal the bag most of the way across, leaving a very small
gap at the corner.
3. Lay the bag of food down on a flat surface and, holding
the unsealed corner up off the surface, gently smooth the food flat, pressing
out the air from the corner of the seal as you do so. Once the food almost
reaches the unsealed corner, seal the bag so it’s fully airtight.
4. You should now have a neat, labelled bag of lovely
leftovers. Lay this down flat in a freezer compartment until solidly frozen,
then you can stack or file your frozen foodstuffs as you wish for super
Can you find space in your cupboards for an old aluminium
pan or oven tray? Could come in handy! Aluminium conducts heat extremely
efficiently, so frozen food placed onto aluminium will defrost twice as fast
than if you simply left the item on the counter.
Had you heard about the benefits of freezing food flat? Share
your thoughts with us here or via Twitter and Facebook!
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