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Old 07-27-2006, 04:18 AM   #1
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Freezing Guidelines

If I were to cook a meal containing chicken or beef, how long could I store it in the freezer for before it becomes spoilt?

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Old 07-27-2006, 05:12 AM   #2
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3 months at the longest
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Old 07-27-2006, 08:19 AM   #3
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It won't be spoiled. It may lose quality but even then it is still quite edible. Wrap it very well and try to get all the air out of your package.
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Old 07-27-2006, 08:16 PM   #4
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Spoilage is not the big problem ... since cooking will kill most of the bacteria that cause spoilage - and freezing will retard any remaining. The biggest problems will be nutrition loss and freezer burn - and those are related to the amount of air left in the packaging, and the type of packaging used.

High liquid content meals - such as chile, stews, soups, pasta sauces, etc. - can be placed in FREEZER zip-lock bags, the air expressed, then frozen ... good for at least a year.

Those and other things can be cooked, portioned to a meal size, frozen in a container if necessary for things that are too liquid to lay on a sheet pan to freeze (after freezing they can be knocked out of the container or not - depends on how you want to store it), and then vacuum packed - using something like a Tilia FoodSaver. That would last for a year or two.

If you're making something like chicken enchiladas or lasagna (just using freezer bags) - you could bake them, put them in a FREEZER bag, when frozen press out all of the air you can, seal - and then use in 1-3 months.
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Old 07-27-2006, 09:52 PM   #5
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How serious is the loss of nutrients in the food? It is important for me to have the meals highly nutritious. I assume there is not a problem with frozen vegetables? I understand they are freshest bought frozen anyway. Freezer burn is not something I've heard of before?
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Old 07-28-2006, 05:03 AM   #6
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Veggies loose some nutrients as you need to blanch them befor eyou freeze!
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Old 07-28-2006, 08:39 AM   #7
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Get a Foodsaver.. I LOVE mine.. I use it almost solely to freeze already cooked Chicken and Ground Beef. Then, on days that I don't feel like preparing a large meal, or I simply want something with grilled chicken, I reach into the freezer, grab a bag of Grilled Chicken Breasts that have been vacumn sealed.. I drop the bay in boiling water and 5 minutes later I have hot chicken that tastes like it came right off the grill.. No lie..

You don't want to get me started on all the benefits or I'll start soundling like a salesman..

BTW, I don't have the Foodsaver Brand. I found it to be too expensive for me to initially "try" vacumn sealing. Instead, I found a brand at Wal-mart for about $50.00. I believe it's a Black-n-Decker.. Either way, it can use the Tilia bags and accessories which is kind of nice.. So I can little portions of things that don't actually need to be canned.. :)

Sorry, that's my two cents about freezing... A lot of people think you can only freeze left overs or raw meats.. I say make life easier..

-Brad
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Old 07-28-2006, 09:17 AM   #8
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You can buy a FoodSaver on Amazon for $50. They are terrific. I have saved enough on sealing cheese to pay for it many times over.
Freezer burn occurs on frozen products when air gets in the bag/wrapping. It makes dark dry marks on meats and veggies. Good use for foodsaver.
I would not be too concerned about the amount of nutrients lost by freezing a whole entree, for example.
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Old 07-28-2006, 11:40 PM   #9
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Instead of loss of "nutrition" I should have said loss of "quality" (color, flavor and texture). Sorry ...

As for fresh vegetables ... yes, they should be blanched before freezing to kill bacteria and decay causing enzymes (this is what I was thinking about when I said loss of nutrition). Yes, there is some nutritional loss when blanching (even more if not done properly) but then some nutritional loss is inevitable in cooking anyway! Yes, frozen vegetables are more nutritious and taste better than canned vegetables - the go from the field and are blanched and quick frozen at their "peak" - and do not undergo the "cooking" that canned vegetables undergo during the canning process.

Freezer burn is caused by dehydration and ice crystal formation on the surface of frozen foods not sealed in an airtight "vapor proof" package. It results in a loss of food quality and off flavors. This is why vacuum sealed foods can last so long without appreciable loss of quality or developing freezer burn. The more vapor proof the packaging (why you would want to use Freezer bags instead of other plastic bags) and the less air the better.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a good FAQ on Freezing foods and a How To freeze various foods section. You might also find this article on Safe Home Food Storage of interest since it gives a lot of information on safe pantry/refrigerator/freezer storage of a variety of foods. And, here is a How To site about vacuum sealing - not too comprehensive but good basic info.

A lot of which method you use will depend on for how long you want to store the food.
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