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January 2, 2018
Leftovers: What cooked foods can be put in the freezer?

Delicious roasts, homemade pies, appetizers and salads… This is the season we make the most lavish dinner tables. So much food that there is no way that you won’t have any leftovers for the following day- or even the whole week! You slaved away in the kitchen to make all these wonderful dishes and – believe me – we won’t let anything go to waste! All you need is your cooking creativity and your…. freezer! There is only one basic thing you need to know… Which leftover foods can be put in the freezer and which ones can’t.  Which ones can handle getting frozen and which ones you will have to quickly transform into some new dish!

Let’s begin by keeping the following in mind: You can freeze lots of cooked foods as long as there are no ingredients involved that “drink” water, such as potatoes, pasta or rice (unless the rice is a part of some more complex type of food like stuffed vegetables or meat and rice meatballs). This is something you should avoid my friends, because when they are defrosted their consistency will quite frankly be… awful! You see, the water that they will have soaked up while cooking will freeze and when they thaw, the water will simply give them the very unattractive spongy texture! Chicken and poultry as well as vegetables or fish, but with greater loss as far as flavor is concerned. If the foods are cooked in sauce, then the liquid element that surrounds them acts as a protective layer and doesn’t allow the cold air to dry out the rest of the food… like the meat for example. Of course this doesn’t mean that broths as well as soups or sauces (with tomato or with ground meat) are first on the list for the freezer, since when they thaw out they are able to keep (to a large degree) their initial flavor and texture. The same goes for the following foods:

  • Cooked meat (especially those with sauces)
  • Pastitsio and lasagna (they may contain pasta but it’s ok)
  • Meat patties and meatballs (it is better if they are raw but you can freeze them cooked as well)
  • Green beans and peas
  • Beans
  • Stuffed vegetables (gemista) and dolmades
  • Crepes (plain or with filling)
  • Cakes, cookies and of course bread, which can seem totally fresh if you take it out of the freezer, defrost it and then pop it in the oven!

See also: How to freeze foods properly!

Can foods spoil even if they are in the freezer?

Of course they can! If food hasn’t been packaged properly or if you have kept it in the freezer for a very long time (more than 2-3 months), then it can spoil. This can also happen if the temperature in the freezer isn’t set correctly. (Each refrigerator has its own settings, while some may even have special “zones” – drawers for each type of food.) How will you be able to understand if something has spoiled? First and foremost: When it defrosts, it smells funny (bad). Its color may be altered and when you take it out of the freezer you will notice a type of burn on its surface called “freezer burn”. This is caused by the exceptionally low temperature (in which case don’t even go through the trouble of defrosting it).

5 things you should be careful with while packaging

The way the food will be packaged can affect its quality as well as how long it will keep. So if you want to freeze your food, you have to package it in the correct way:

  1. Choose airtight containers or food bags that are suitable for freezer use (like freezer bags).
  2. Make sure you attach labels to your packaged foods with the content and date of freezing written on them.
  3. Use some parchment paper to keep certain foods from sticking together, like your burger patties for instance. For this same reason, it is better to freeze them one next to the other on a tray and then place them in a freezer bag. You can do the same with breads, vegetables or cookies.
  4. Divide the foods you want to freeze into portions. This way, when you need it, you can use the exact amount you need without having to throw out the rest once it is defrosted.
  5. Use ovenproof or disposable containers for foods that will have to be cooked in the oven as soon as they come out of the freezer, in order to heat them up or to complete the cooking process.

Now you have all the information you need so that you can freeze your food in the correct manner. If you have any questions that I didn’t cover for you, you know what you have to do? Send me a message and I will try to answer it for you as soon as possible!

 

Akis

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