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Tips for Freezing Food

Everyday Food, Volume 18 December 2004

Follow these three simple steps to keep your frozen food fresh-tasting. It's a good idea to date and label the packages and to include the reheating instructions.

Before storing hot foods, be sure to cool them completely. This is important for two reasons: Hot foods will raise the temperature of the freezer, slowing the freezing time (and perhaps thawing other foods), and the center of the dishes may not freeze quickly enough to prevent spoilage.

Use storage containers and wrappings designed for the freezer. When freezing in baking dishes, wrap tightly. Otherwise, transfer food to airtight containers, leaving as little air as possible at the top (except for liquids, which need about one inch of air to allow for expansion). Freezing in small containers (less than one quart) will ensure that the food freezes quickly.

Some dishes require defrosting before reheating; check directions in each recipe to be sure. If thawing is called for, the safest way is to transfer the container to the refrigerator the night before you plan to serve the dish (do not leave out at room temperature), or you can defrost in the microwave. Fresh herbs do not freeze well, so always add them when the dish is ready to be served.

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