Freezing Foods: Everything You Need To Know

Freezing Foods: Everything You Need To Know

The purpose of freezing raw or cooked food is to extend its shelf life to be used later. Using cold to preserve food goes back to the prehistoric era when people employed snow and ice to keep their catch fresh. 

When Sir Francis Bacon tried to freeze chickens by packing the carcasses with snow, it was reported that he developed deadly pneumonia. Once a rapid freezing technique was developed, frozen meals were only offered commercially in the 1930s.

Its shelf-life extension is, however, just temporary and needs to be managed carefully.

Even thousands of people are still determining the security of the contents kept in their freezers. Few people grasp how freezing protects food, which is the root of the problem.

How does freezing protect and preserve food?

Since freezing stops microorganisms from multiplying and reduces the activity of the enzymes that cause food to decay, it delays deterioration and keeps food safe. 

The ice crystallization of the water in the food prevents it from being available to the bacteria that require it for growth. 

Foods must be handled safely before and after defrosting because most bacteria (apart from parasites) survive the freezing process.

How does food freezing affect the nutrients it contains?

On the nutritious composition of foods, freezing has little impact. 

Before freezing, some fruits and vegetables are blanched (briefly submerged in boiling water to inactivate enzymes and yeasts that would continue to result in food degradation even in the freezer). 

Vitamin C may lose 15 to 20% of its content throughout this procedure. Despite these losses, fruits and vegetables are quickly frozen in their freshest state and are frequently higher in nutrients than their "fresh" equivalents. Sorting, shipping, and distributing harvested goods to retailers can sometimes take several days.

Vitamins and minerals in the diet may gradually disappear during this time. When kept at room temperature, fresh soft fruits and vegetables can lose up to 15% of their daily vitamin C content.

As a protein, vitamins A and D and minerals are unaffected by freezing. Frozen meats, fish, and poultry have no vitamin and mineral losses. Water-soluble vitamins and mineral salts are lost during the defrosting process, and if this liquid is not recovered, it will also be lost during the cooking process.

What foods freeze efficiently?

  • Although practically anything may be frozen, some foods freeze better than others. The best food categories to freeze are:
  • Fruit
  • Blanched produce
  • Both raw and cooked meat
  • Butter

What is the ideal method for freezing food?

Here are some general suggestions for frozen food, while the process varies somewhat depending on the type of food:

  • Keep everything cold: Make sure your freezer is 0°F. For precision, use a refrigerator/freezer thermometer.
  • Don't freeze hot food: Let it cool completely after cooking. Your other foods may defrost if you put warm food in the freezer.
  • Properly wrap and seal food completely: To prevent freezer burn, food should be appropriately wrapped and sealed with foil, plastic wrap, and plastic freezer bags. To avoid freezer burn, eliminate as much air as possible when packaging. Alternatively, if you're using food storage containers, allow the liquid to expand as it freezes.
  • Keep food far from the door: Foods having a higher risk of foodborne illnesses, such as meats, should be kept away from the freezer's entrance where the temperature is more stable. For products like alcohol or freezer packs, save the door for that purpose, which is also the freezer's warmest area.

Is it possible to freeze food in Mason jars?

Yes, you can freeze food in Mason or other glass jars, but you must take extra care because glass is brittle. To stop glass containers from splitting in the freezer, follow these steps:

  • Choose the correct jar: Go for a clear glass jar with sturdy walls and square corners. Avoid freezing food in repurposed jars like a pickle or relish jars and jars with rounded tops because the curved shape reduces the room for food to grow.
  • Leave headspace: Make sure you're giving food enough room to expand. Although some jars have a frozen line carved into them, it is best to lean on caution and leave at least an inch of headspace. If it's your first time freezing food, leave an inch and a half or two of space to see how much it expands.
  • Label the jar: Write the food's name and the date it was frozen on the jar's label. Labeling keeps your freezer organized!
  • Fridge before freezer: Put food in the refrigerator for at least one night before transferring it to the freezer since sudden temperature changes can cause the glass to shatter.

How to Freeze Food

Now that you know some of the fundamentals, let's start freezing some food! Discover how to freeze all kinds of food properly.

Freezing Fresh Meat and Seafood 

If freezing is your intention, doing it as soon as you bring these things home is crucial. In other words, avoid freezing fresh meat after storing it in the refrigerator for three days.
  • Remove from plastic or foam grocery trays. 
  • Before freezing, divide ground meat into pieces or patties. 
  • Increase shelf life and avoid freezer burn by double wrapping your food in either two layers of plastic wrap or one layer of wrap and then a zip-top freezer bag.
  • In the freezer's coldest section, keep food for up to two or three months (i.e., in the back, away from the door). Before cooking, let frozen food thaw overnight in the fridge.

Freezing Fresh Produce

Blanching fresh vegetables before freezing them is the best method. Although there are various ways to prepare vegetables for blanching (such as cutting broccoli into florets, peeling and dicing carrots, seeding and dicing peppers, clipping green bean stems, etc.), the general concept is to prepare the food in the form that it will be consumed in.
  • After a brief boiling period, quickly move the potatoes to an ice-water bath to stop cooking. 
  • Spread the vegetables on a sheet pan, freeze them, and then transfer them to zip-top freezer bags after completely draining and drying them (wet vegetables will form frost).
  • Although you can omit the blanching stage, freezing fruits is similar. 
  • Keep in mind that whole bananas in their skins can be frozen. The fruit inside will remain fresh and vibrant while the skins will turn brown. For two to three months, they can be kept in storage.
  • Tomatoes and other products with high water content, and leafy greens like lettuce and kale do not freeze well.
  • You may freeze fresh herbs by cutting them, combining them with water or olive oil, and freezing the concoction in ice cube trays. Transfer the frozen cubes to freezer bags with a zip-top.

Freezing Dairy and Eggs

The issue with whole eggs is that the expansion brought on by freezing can result in the egg's shell bursting. Also, frozen hard-cooked eggs tend to become rubbery.
  • Cracking entire eggs into a bowl and lightly beating them with a teaspoon of salt or sugar (depending on whether you're using them for a sweet or savory meal) is the easiest way to freeze them before putting them in a resealable container. 
  • Calculate the number of eggs you'll require and freeze them in that quantity. Also, you can freeze the yolks and whites individually.
  • You may still cook and bake using whole milk even though it will separate when frozen and lose some flavor when thawed. Only after consuming it would you realize the difference.
  • Half-and-half does not freeze well, although heavy cream does. Whipping cream dollops freeze well on a sheet pan coated with parchment paper (transfer to freezer bags).
  • When divided into pieces and doubly covered, cheese can be frozen. Sour cream and cottage cheese will become gritty. 
  • Whipped butter doesn't freeze as well as butter sticks do.

Freezing Soups and Stews

Be sure to properly chill soups and stews (including items like chili) in the refrigerator before freezing them, at the very least until the fat rises to the top and hardens (usually overnight). 
Skim off the fat and throw it away before transferring the soup to freezer bags or airtight containers.

Freezing Casseroles 

A completely unbaked casserole, such as lasagna, can almost always be frozen in its baking dish if tightly wrapped in foil. 
  • Move frozen food directly to a chilly oven, preheat the oven, bake, or thaw it overnight. 
  • Ensure to cook it through entirely and remove the foil for the last 20 minutes to crisp the top.
  • A casserole or lasagna can also be baked in advance, frozen, thawed, and then heated. However, remember that since it will cook more when reheated, bake it just slightly less than completely the first time. 
  • An instant-read thermometer in the center should register at least 160 F and show boiling sauce.

Freezing Baked Goods 

Frozen baked goods such as bread, cakes, and brownies are possible for two to three months after completely cooling. Unlike highly perishable goods, these things can be defrosted at room temperature while still in their packaging. 
This comprises cupcakes, muffins, and quick bread. You can freeze cookies in a resealable bag or container, but you can also freeze the dough in rolls (for slicing and baking later) or in individual balls for baking right out of the freezer.

Freezing Defrosted Foods

If the following steps were taken, frozen or defrosted food might be frozen again:
  • The cold chain was kept intact when these goods were being defrosted in a refrigerator.
  • The fridge was used to store these goods for up to three days.
  • Foods should be airtight by wrapping or sealing them.

Refreezing Frozen Foods

Foods purchased or delivered frozen should be placed immediately in the freezer and kept frozen.
If these foods were defrosted in the refrigerator, then follow the process of defrosted produce.
Original retail packaging is permeable to the air and is frequently unsuitable for long-term storage. Extra wrapping on such products is best to avoid degradation and freezer burn.

Freezing Foods Temperature Guide

The following is a guide for quality food storage from This is the recommended period for maintaining the quality of the items, not necessarily the food safety of the products!

When we talk about quality, we mean that frozen leftovers, regardless of temperature, can lose moisture and flavor when stored for extended periods in the freezer.

You know that every chef has yet to win a culinary award while using frozen products stored for an extended period (+3 months).





5 ° C (40 °F or below)

-18 ° C  (0 °F or below)


Egg, chicken, ham, tuna & macaroni salads

3 to 5 days

Does not freeze well

Hot dogs

opened package

1 week

1 to 2 months


unopened package

2 weeks

1 to 2 months

Luncheon meat

opened package or deli sliced

3 to 5 days

1 to 2 months


unopened package

2 weeks

1 to 2 months

Bacon & Sausage


7 days

1 month


Sausage, raw — from chicken, turkey, pork, beef

1 to 2 days

1 to 2 months

Hamburger & Other Ground Meats

Hamburger, ground beef, turkey, veal, pork, lamb, & mixtures of them

1 to 2 days

3 to 4 months

Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb & Pork


3 to 5 days

6 to 12 months



3 to 5 days

4 to 6 months



3 to 5 days

4 to 12 months

Fresh Poultry

Chicken or turkey, whole

1 to 2 days

1 year


Chicken or turkey, pieces

1 to 2 days

9 months

Soups & Stews

Vegetable or meat added

3 to 4 days

2 to 3 months


Cooked meat or poultry

3 to 4 days

2 to 6 months


Chicken nuggets or patties

3 to 4 days

1 to 3 months



3 to 4 days

1 to 2 months


Foods stored at -5 °C, -10 °C, and -12 °C cannot be kept for the above durations.

Are there certain foods that shouldn't be frozen?

Because the production of ice crystals causes the cell membranes to split, freezing can harm some foods. 

The food loses its crispness or firmness but has no negative consequences on safety (some bacterial cells might be eliminated). Salad veggies, mushrooms, and soft fruits don't freeze well.

Foods containing more fat, including cream and some sauces, tend to separate when frozen.

Foods frozen by commercial methods are frozen more quickly and develop smaller ice crystals. So that quality is even less impacted, this results in less harm to cell membranes.

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