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The Best Ways to Store Your Favorite Foods in the Freezer

Created September 3, 2019
Just how long can you freeze something? MORE+ LESS-
We’ve all been there— standing in front of the freezer wondering if your favorite foods are still good. We’ve put together a list of how to best freeze your food so you can spend less time questioning and more time enjoying your meal!
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Vegetables

Stock up on your summer bounty and enjoy it all year long! A few tried-and-true freezer-friendly veggies include tomatoes, kale, spinach, corn, zucchini and cucumbers. To streamline the process, spread your washed vegetables onto a parchment-lined sheet pan in a single layer and freeze for 1 hour. Once frozen, move them to a freezer-safe container. When freezing, it’s important to keep in mind that air is not your friend. Expert tip: Choose heavy-duty freezer bags or airtight containers to store your veggies and prevent freezer burn.

It’s also important to date your container so you can keep track of how long its contents have been frozen. Frozen vegetables can be stored up to 18 months in the freezer. Keep in mind that as your vegetables thaw, they may become mushy due to the ice that forms when they are frozen. This makes your veggies great for cooking, but not necessarily to eat on their own!

Here are a few recipes that taste great with frozen veggies:

Fruit

Who doesn’t want a refreshing smoothie whenever the craving strikes? Our friends at Betty Crocker put together a comprehensive how-to guide for the best method to freeze some of your favorite fruits like blueberries, strawberries, peaches and cantaloupe. Following a similar process to freezing vegetables, lay your washed and dried fruit out on a parchment-lined sheet pan first and freeze completely before transferring to a freezer bag. Once frozen, fruits can last up to 12 months. Remember, some of the fruit may break down upon thawing at room temperature, making them ideal for smoothies or to eat before they’re fully thawed.

Here are some of our favorite ways to use frozen fruit:

Meat and Seafood

Take some of the work out of your weeknight dinner routine by freezing some of your meals ahead of time! When it comes to freezing meats and seafood, you can either freeze it cooked or uncooked.

Uncooked fish will last in the freezer for three to six months, while cooked and breaded fish will last two to three months. Uncooked shellfish is good for three to four months in the freezer, while cooked shellfish will last one to two months. Generally, uncooked ingredients maintain freshness longer when stored in the freezer. The ever-popular ground beef, for example, can be stored uncooked in the freezer for up to four months (as is the case with all ground meat). Cooked meat can last in the freezer two to three months.

To best freeze your meat, keep in mind that meat is best stored in meal-sized portions to prevent exposing other portions to the air while removing the amount you wish to reheat. Wrap your meat in either plastic wrap or foil and then place in a heavy-duty freezer bag to minimize the risk of freezer burn. To initially freeze your meat, spread your portions out in a single layer to freeze evenly. Once frozen, you can stack them to take up less space in your freezer.

These excellent dinner-starters can be made ahead and then frozen up to three months:

Soups

Warm up on chillier nights with an easy heat-up meal. Whether you’re hosting a soup swap or simply making dinner for your family ahead of time, we recommend freezing broth- or tomato-based soups. Soups with dairy (such as cream, milk or cheese) and flour-thickened soups can become grainy once frozen. Soup can last up to three months in the freezer.

To freeze our fan-favorite Family Hamburger Soup: Prepare as directed. Cool uncovered in refrigerator 30 minutes. Pour soup into a 2-gallon resealable freezer plastic bag, leaving 1/2 to 1 inch at top for expansion; seal. Pro tip: Lay the freezer bag flat in freezer for optimal storage (and don’t forget to label it!). To thaw, move your soup into the fridge overnight.

Casseroles

Dinner just got a whole lot easier. Our friends at Tablespoon break down the essential need-to-know information on how to best freeze your casseroles for when you need them the most. But the bottom line is: The USDA recommends freezing no longer than two months. For casseroles with a lot of cheese in them, add the cheese after the dish is thawed to avoid unsavory separation and grainy texture in the freezer. When it comes time to bake your casserole, place it in the fridge for up to 48 hours to completely thaw and add 15 to 20 minutes to the cook time.

Here are some of our go-to freezer-friendly casseroles to enjoy:

Pies and Cakes

That’s right—it’s not just the main entrees that have all the fun. You can also freeze pies and cakes (and cheesecakes!) to enjoy later. Unfrosted cakes can be frozen up to four months, while frosted cakes keep up to three months.

Many pies freeze well, but we don’t recommend freezing custard, cream and unbaked pumpkin pies, because they will separate and become watery. Unbaked and baked fruit pies, baked pecan pies and baked pumpkin pies can last up to four months in the freezer.

Our Loaf Pan New York-Style Cheesecake can be frozen by the slice for whenever you get a craving for something decadent without any hassle. To freeze: Pre-cut your slices and place on cookie sheet lined with cooking parchment paper. Freeze cheesecake until solid, about 6 hours. Remove slices from freezer, and wrap each slice in double-layer of food-safe plastic wrap; store in airtight container in freezer. To thaw, simply move wrapped pieces to refrigerator 4 to 6 hours, then serve. Bonus: Baked cheesecake lasts up to five months in the freezer!

Pot Pies

We’ve tested a few of our pot pies to see how they fare in the freezer. We found that with our Classic Chicken Pot Pie, you can freeze the filling and skip a few steps making day-of! To freeze the chicken filling: Prepare as directed in recipe. Cool uncovered in refrigerator 30 minutes. Spoon mixture into 1-gallon freezer food storage plastic bag, leaving 1/2 to 1 inch at top of bag for expansion; seal. Freeze up to one month. To bake, thaw mixture overnight in refrigerator. Pour into 2-quart saucepan, heat over medium heat, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently or until thoroughly heated. Assemble, fill and bake pie as directed in recipe.

Want to freeze the entire dish? Our mini chicken pot pies are the perfect option! After placing unbaked pies in muffin cups, wrap muffin pan in foil and freeze completely, about 2 hours. Once pies are frozen, run knife around edge of pan to loosen; remove from muffin tin. Wrap each in plastic wrap, and place frozen pies in large resealable freezer plastic bag.

Cookies

Did you know you can freeze our cookie dough rolls and our Pillsbury™ Ready to Bake!™ cookie dough up to two months in advance? After-school snack time just got one sweet upgrade. Best of all, with our Ready to Bake!™ cookies, you can make them straight from the freezer and choose exactly how many you want to bake (we won’t judge if it’s all of them!).

To freeze your cookies, place delicate frosted or decorated cookies between layers of waxed paper in freezer containers to prevent them from freezing together. Unfrosted cookies, like our Kitchen Sink Chocolate Chip Cookies, can last up to a year in the freezer. Frosted cookies (our Frosted Doughnut Cookies, for example) have a shorter freezer life of up to three months.

When it’s time to enjoy, a guideline to thaw most of your cookies is uncovered in the container at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. For crisp cookies, we recommend removing them from the container to thaw.

Freezing Tips

When freezing your favorite foods, it’s important to keep a few tips in mind:

  • Keep your freezer at 0°F or lower
  • Wrap your food in plastic wrap, foil or freezer-safe containers
  • Label and date all packages and containers
  • To prevent freezer burn, remove as much air from packages as possible and let hot cooked foods cool to room temperature before freezing
  • Store purchased frozen foods in their original packaging
  • Always thaw frozen meats, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator—never at room temperature. Or, thaw food in your microwave following manufacturer’s directions, then cook immediately



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