Leader lesson the family freezer making the most of what goes in
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Leader Lesson The Family Freezer: Making the Most of What Goes In. Provided by: Barbara Brown, Ph.D., R.D./L.D. Food Specialist, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Associate Prof., Department of Nutritional Sciences. The situation. Not a new home preservation tool

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Leader Lesson The Family Freezer: Making the Most of What Goes In

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Leader lesson the family freezer making the most of what goes in

Leader LessonThe Family Freezer: Making the Most of What Goes In

Provided by: Barbara Brown, Ph.D., R.D./L.D.

Food Specialist, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service

Associate Prof., Department of Nutritional Sciences


The situation

The situation

  • Not a new home preservation tool

  • What is going into your freezer?

  • How is your food wrapped?

  • How long will food be stored in the freezer?

California Agriculture, California Experiment

Station, March, 1947

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service


Plusses of freezing

Plusses of freezing

  • Save food when you have time

  • Use oven efficiently when bake extra to freeze

  • Less waste if leftovers are frozen (if used)

  • Prepare special diet & baby foods in quantity & freeze in single portions

  • Save time by doubling, tripling recipes

  • Eases cooking for 1 or 2

  • May save $ by making own convenience foods

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On the minus side

On the minus side

  • Expensive when total cost of packaging, energy use, & freezer itself

  • More energy used to cook, freeze & reheat a dish than to cook for immediate use

  • Some dishes have a relatively short storage life compared to storage life of the ingredients

  • Must allow time for thawing unless a microwave is available

  • Some foods don’t freeze well or don’t justify work & cost of freezing

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Cost associated with freezing

Cost associated with freezing

  • Initial cost of freezer, divided over 20 years if new, nine years if used

  • Lost interest on cash outlay for freezer

  • Freezer maintenance and repair

    • USDA estimates 2% of purchase price of new freezer/year

    • Used freezers may be higher

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Cost associated with freezing continued

Cost associated with freezing (continued)

  • Electricity needed to reach and maintain 0oF

  • Packaging materials

  • Water & fuel to prepare food for freezing

  • Cost of ingredients

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Figuring the cost

Figuring the cost

  • Takes 0.l kilowatt hours to freeze 1 pound of food & lower its temperature to 0oF

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Energy required depends on many factors

Energy required depends on many factors

  • Temperature of room where freezer is located

  • Frequency of door openings

  • Size of freezer. In general, larger freezers use more electricity than smaller ones.

  • Insulating properties of freezer

  • Clean, well maintained freezers use less energy

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Energy required depends on many factors1

Energy required depends on many factors

  • Full freezers use less total electricity & less electricity/pound of food to maintain 0oF

  • Turnover of food—cost to maintain frozen food mounts daily

  • Chest vs. upright

    • In general, chests are more economically to operate than uprights

  • Manual defrost vs. frost-free

    • Frost-free freezers cost considerably more to operate

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Example of energy costs frost free vs manual defrost

Example of energy costs:Frost free vs. manual defrost

  • Cost to run a 15-cubic foot freezer for 1 year when electricity costs 7 cents/kilowatt hour:

    • Frost-free freezer cost $123.27/year

    • Manual defrost freezer cost $81.37/year

    • Difference = $41.90

      • $838 over 20 years of freezer life

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Operation cost of a 15 cubic foot freezer pound of food for 1 year

Operation cost of a 15-cubic foot freezer/pound of food for 1 year

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service


Safety of frozen foods

Safety of frozen foods

  • Freezer is set at recommended freezer temperature (0oF) will keep food safe to eatindefinitely

    • Food must be safe to eat when it goes in

    • Slows movement of molecules causing microbes to enter a dormant state

    • Harmful bacteria not killed by freezing temperatures

    • Begin to grow as food thaws

    • Parasites can be destroyed by freezing

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service


Freezer storage

Freezer storage

  • Color, flavor & texture eventually deteriorate

    • Recommended storage times are for quality only

  • Effects of too long a storage

    • Some foods develop rancid or off odor

    • Appearance suffers even if edible

      • Usable in soups, stews, casseroles

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Keep it cold

Keep it cold

  • Keep freezer set at 0oF or lower

    • Use appliance thermometer to monitor

    • Refrigerator freezing compartment can’t maintain temperature if opened often

      • Use only for short-term frozen storage

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To help keep unit cold

To help keep unit cold

  • Allow air movement inside freezer

    • Reduce number of items in freezer & add shelf space

      • Allow air to circulate more efficiently for a more thorough freeze

    • Keep foods away from back vent

      • Blocks air circulation & results in a warmer freezer

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Preparing homemade convenience foods for freezing

Preparing homemade convenience foods for freezing

  • Freeze slightly undercooked if will be reheated

  • Cool quickly after preparation by:

    • Put pan in ice water, stir if possible

      OR

    • Put in serving size freezer containers & refrigerate until cool

  • Freeze as soon as cool

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Not all foods freeze well

Not all foods freeze well

*Cucumbers & cabbage can be frozen as marinated foods (freezer pickles or slaw)

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Not all foods freeze well continued

Not all foods freeze well (continued)

Source: National Center for Home Food Preservation, http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/

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Don t know how it will freeze

Don’t know how it will freeze?

  • Try freezing a small portion, then check quality

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Packaging

Packaging

  • Pack amount to be used at one time

  • Choose packaging that matches thawing & reheating method you’ll use

    • Freezer- & microwave-safe containers for those to be thawed and/or cooked in microwave oven

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Packaging options

Packaging options

  • Use moisture-vapor-proof packaging

    • Plastic containers, freezer bags, heavy-duty aluminum foil, coated freezer paper, wide-mouth canning jars (leave 1 to 2 inches headspace)

  • Convenience foods—glass or metal baking pans lined with plastic wrap or foil; when frozen lift out food & put in freezer bags or wrap with freezer paper

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Vacuum packaging

Vacuum-packaging

  • More oxygen removed, the better the quality

  • Vacuum-packaging does not kill microbes

    • Must keep food cold while thawing

  • Vacuum-sealed bags not designed for cooking

  • Replacement bags can be expensive, more difficult to locate

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Freezer burn

Freezer burn

  • Moisture loss from the food surface

    • May look like fuzzy, grayish white spot on food surface

  • Not harmful but causes off-flavors, dries out & toughens food

  • Packaging in moisture/vapor-proof containers or wrapping & storing food for recommended length of time helps prevent

  • Cover fruit with syrup & cooked meat with gravy or sauce to help prevent

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Rules for wrapping

Rules for wrapping

  • Wrap tightly

  • Wrap again (double wrap)

  • Wrap individual portions separately when appropriate

  • Wrapping tightly & double wrapping help maintain quality & prevent freezer burn

  • Wrapping individual portions separately lets you remove some food to prepare without thawing unneeded food

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Best storage materials are easy to mark

Best storage materials are easy to mark

  • Label foods with the date & contents so that keeping an inventory is easy

  • Use permanent markers to label either on strip of masking tape or directly on package/container

    • Remove permanent marker from empty plastic containers with rubbing alcohol

    • Throw away canning jar lids & plastic bags

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Package dating freezing

Package dating & freezing

  • Don’t buy foods with out-of-date Sell-By or Best-if-Used-By dates

  • Buy the food with the longest Best-if-Used-By date for best food quality. If you can’t use perishable foods within 3 to 7 days, freeze

  • For quality purposes, freeze food before Best-if-Used-By date to maintain the highest quality while frozen

  • Once food is frozen the package date becomes irrelevant

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service


Putting food into the freezer

Putting food into the freezer

  • Freeze at 0oF or below

  • Place packages against cooling surfaces of freezer for quick freezing

  • Freeze only what can be frozen in 24 hours

    • Usually 2-3 pounds/cubic foot

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Keep an inventory

Keep an inventory

  • Post list of frozen food with freezing date near freezer

    • Add & subtract from list

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Using frozen foods

Using frozen foods

  • Reheat food that was cooked & frozen to 165oF

    • Use a thermometer to check to avoid overcooking

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Thawing frozen food

Thawing frozen food

  • Room temperature

    • Ok for nonperishable foods (bread, cakes, cookies)

    • Leave food in package until thawed

  • Refrigerator

    • Best for perishable foods (meats, main dishes, cooked meat, side dishes, eggs)

  • Microwave oven

    • General guideline: 6-8 min/pound thawed on defrost setting (30% power)

  • Frozen foods may be cooked without thawing

    • Allow 1/3 to 1/2 more cooking time

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Using thawed food

Using thawed food

  • When you thaw, open, & prepare frozen food, use within 3—7 days to keep it safe

  • Discard improperly thawed and opened, or prepared foods that have been uneaten within 4 days

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Freezer tips

Freezer tips

  • Freeze whole grains and foods that contain them to slow the onset of rancidity

  • Yeast: freezing not recommended

  • Bagels & English muffins defrost more quickly when frozen pre-sliced or separated

  • Hamburger patties: separate burgers with square pieces of parchment paper then place in freezer bag

    • Also works with tortillas, crepes, French toast, pancakes

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Freezing tips for meat

Freezing tips for meat

  • May be left in original packaging up to 2 weeks

    • For longer storage, wrap tightly in freezer packaging to prevent freezer burn

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Freezing coffee

Freezing coffee

  • Coffee beans: if use a bag in less than 10—12 days, store beans in original bag or zipper-lock bag away from heat & light

    • For longer storage, freeze

  • Ground coffee: store in freezer

    • Measure amount needed into filter & warm to room temperature before brewing

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Power outages

Power outages

  • Keep the door shut

    • Full freezer usually okay for 48 hours; 1/2-full only 1 day

    • Refrigerator freezing compartment may not keep foods frozen as long

  • If the freezer is not full, quickly group packages together to stay cold more effectively

    • Separate meat & poultry from other foods so if they begin to thaw, juices won't drip onto other foods

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If power stays off consider

If power stays off consider…

  • Putting dry ice, block ice, or bags of ice in freezer

    • Use appliance thermometer to monitor freezer temperature

  • Moving foods to a family or friend's freezer

  • Invest in a generator—know how to use it safely

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If power stays off don t

If power stays off don’t…

  • Move food outside

    • Can thaw when exposed to sun even when temperature is very cold

    • Food may become too warm & foodborne bacteria could grow

    • Food could be exposed to unsanitary conditions or animals

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When power comes back on

When power comes back on…

  • Determine safety by checking condition & temperature of food

  • Refreeze or use food that is partly frozen, still has ice crystals, or is as cold as if it were in a refrigerator (40°F)

    • Not necessary to cook raw foods prior to refreezing

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Throw away

Throw away

  • Perishable foods that have been warmer than 40°F over 2 hrs

  • Any food contaminated by raw meat juices

  • Soft or melted ice cream (low quality)

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Summary

Summary

  • Freezing food offers many benefits

  • Freezing is an expensive method of preserving food

  • Use proper packaging and label food to be frozen

  • Monitor what is in your freezer and use it before quality deteriorates

  • Have a plan for power outages

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service


Leader lesson the family freezer making the most of what goes in

Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service


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