Your freezer can be a great tool for preserving foods and storing make-ahead meals, and one of the most important things you can do is pay attention to the containers you use. The right packaging will ensure that frozen foods retain their flavor, color, and texture without developing freezer burn or absorbing other flavors and odors.
When freezing foods, use containers and packing materials that are durable, easily sealable, resistant to cracking at low temperatures, and moisture- and vapor-resistant. Choose the right size container for your volume of food; wasted space can lead to oxidation and freezer burn. At the same time, be aware that foods that contain water expand when frozen, so make sure the containers are expandable or that you leave enough headspace to allow for expansion. The following are suitable for frozen foods:
• Mason jars: Use only wide-mouth glass jars; jars with necks can crack more easily as contents expand. To allow for food expansion, do not fill jars above the 1-inch line.
• Plastic freezer bags: Use bags that are designated for freezing, such as zip-top bags or vacuum freezer bags. These are made of thicker material than regular plastic bags and are more resistant to moisture and oxygen. In lieu of a vacuum sealer, use a straw to suck oxygen out of bags.
• Freezer paper: This heavyweight paper has a waxy coating on one side, which provides a moisture-vapor barrier. It is particularly useful for wrapping meat, fish, and poultry.
• Plastic wrap: Use good quality, thick plastic wrap – not the cheap stuff.
• Aluminum foil: This is more moisture-resistant than plastic wrap, but be sure to use heavy duty aluminum foil.
Finally, no matter what containers you use, remember to label and date everything!
(Image: Emma Christensen)