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As recently as 50 years ago, most Americans knew how to store food and preserve vitamins, freshness, and flavor. Outside of the inner cities, almost every homemaker knew how to preserve fruits, vegetables, grains, and meat for unexpected interruptions
The one method most Americans know best for preserving food is freezing. The fact that more people do freezing as a way of preserving food unfortunately does not mean that most people do it right.


The single most important consideration in preserving the freshness of frozen food is making sure the freezer is set as low as possible , preferably for several hours before putting up the food. If the temperature in your freezer is barely freezing, bacteria will have a chance to continue to grow inside your food as it slowly freezes. If the temperature in your freezer is set low, food freezes right away and spoilage is kept to a minimum.

The single most important consideration is preserving the taste of frozen is making sure it is sealed tight in its container with no air space around the food . If you leave space around your food in its container, the moisture in the air can crystallize and form an icy layer on your food. The food that is in contact with this moisture thaws and refreezes to form a tasteless mush. Either seal food in plastic bags from which you have forced out extra air, or cover food with liquid in its storage container.

Special Considerations for Freezing Vegetables

Everybody hears horrible stories about E. coli, Listeria, and viruses on fresh vegetables. There is a single, simple step in preparing fresh food for storage in the freezer than makes sure you don't store a ticking time bomb for your family: blanching .

Blanching is nothing more than dipping the fruit or vegetable in boiling water before it goes into the freezer. Scientists will tell you that about 99.5% of all bacteria and viruses are killed by one minute's exposure to hot (80° C/176° F) water. Most experts in home food preservation will tell you make sure the water you use to blanch your food is at a rolling boil and blanch certain foods for up to 7 minutes. The reason to the extra heat is not only to kill 99.9999% of disease-causing microorganisms, but also to stop the action of enzymes in food that cause deterioration of color and flavor. If you skip the blanching step, you will open a package of tasteless food a few months later.

How long do you blanch food before freezing it?

•    Blanch chopped leafy greens and fresh green peas for 60 to 90 seconds.

•    Blanch mushrooms, sliced peppers, turnips, parsnips, small asparagus stalks, and green beans for 2 to 3 minutes.

•    Blanch whole cocktail (small) onions, sweet corn, and broccoli for 3 to 4 minutes.

Instead of blanching, go ahead and cook potatoes, tomatoes, beets, eggplant slices, and globe artichokes before freezing. Drain your veggies and place in plastic freezer bags, sealing them with as little air as possible. Chill them in the refrigerator down to about 5° C/41° F before placing them into the freezer , which you have at the lowest setting possible.


What about freezing leftovers from meals?

Blanching is not necessary when food has already been cooked. Just cool the leftovers in the refrigerator before placing them in freezer bags for longer-term storage. You will also get better results when there is less contact with air inside the freezer container.

To freeze food at home you just need a stockpot for blanching and a sieve or scooper for removing hot vegetables, plus freezer bags or freezer boxes for storage.

Drying, canning, and freezing are great ways to set food aside for weather emergencies, budget emergencies, and unexpected events of all kinds. They can even increase the nutritional value of food. You can stock up on food that is on sale , and you might even lose weight because there is less reason for nervous eating.