Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Freezing as preservation

There are a variety of products out on the market to improve freezing conditions. Years ago, I succombed and acquired several products (well actually purchased one and got the other two free as part of a special promotion). I bought a Foodsaver Vacuum sealer. I have nothing against the product itself but it wasn't worth the expense. There are some problems with the way I wanted to use the product. I tried to seal zucchini but what it vacuumed out was a lot of moisture making a huge mess and leaving the bags not as I wanted them. I was able to finish storing the zucchini but it wasn't great. I did love the ability to vacuum seal rice krispie treats and granola bars but they aren't something I store a really long time. The Foodsaver system is really pricey and not worth the expense.
The other two systems were from Ziplock - one a battery operated vacuum sealer and the other a hand system that resembled a tire pump. Both required expensive bags that are difficult to find in stores.
In the end, I discovered that investing in freezer bags of a variety of sizes did everything I wanted and was a more reasonable expense. I buy freezer bags in quart and gallon sizes. I fill them carefully and work to remove all the air on my own. I, also, strive to use the products in a reasonable amount of time. Freezing feels like a long term solution but foods do go bad in the freezer. We rarely throw out anything from the freezer but we've eaten things that were not as good as they should have been.
Taste of Home Magazine sent me a free magazine "sample" this month and it was filled with tips for freezing foods. Most of the tips were not unknown but they did include a time line for using up foods in the freezer. I planned on sharing but I left the magazine at home so I'll share that tomorrow. What surprised me was how short those time spans were. Only 1, if I remember correctly, was a year. Most were less than six months. I can tell you that I have things in my freezer that have moved with me and we've lived in our apartment for over two years. Time to really use up those products (might explain why my zucchini muffins were so dry).
I follow a blog that encourages freezing foods so that you can enjoy a dish more than once while cooking once. As much as that sounds like a great plan, it doesn't work for everyone and it doesn't work for me. I barely acknowledge my freezer in my cooking plans. I forget what's in there (hense the kitchen inventory) but more because frozen foods do not appeal to me except frozen vegetables and bananas. I don't mind freezing my meat but I have to know how quickly I can thaw it without using the microwave since I'm terrible at pre-planning (which I am getting better at). This explains my obsession with pasta because I barely have to think about it.
If freezing meals works for you, it can be a great way to save money and time. It often doesn't cost much more to double a recipe, depending on the ingredients and pre-baking goods and freezing them can save waste as well as offer your family a quick and easy breakfast or snack. Check out Once a Month Mom for more tips and recipes.

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