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Old 01-01-2010, 06:16 PM   #1
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Freezing prepared foods - your experiences

Happy new year to all.

I want to freeze caramelized onions tomorrow, but don't know if it will taste good after thawing. Do any of you freeze prepared meals on a regular basis? I mostly freeze cooked brown rice and brown lentils. I eat those regularly.

I thought maybe it would be a good idea if we could share some experiences. In my limited experience garlic tends to get bitter. The taste of onion seems to "change". Salt also loses flavor.

How about caramelized onions, is it a good idea to free them? Feel free to share experiences, what about pepper/paprika etc.. Anyone freeze stews?

What do you freeze??


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Old 01-01-2010, 06:27 PM   #2
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I freeze lots of prepared foods. Soups, stews, casseroles, pasta sauces, cooked winter squashes and sweet potatoes, leftover cooked rice, chile.

I haven't frozen caramelized onions on their own. They should freeze fine. They're already mushy so texture shouldn't be an issue.

I can't imagine salt's losing saltiness in the freezer. Why would you freeze it?

I know you can buy frozen chopped onions and peppers (separately) in the frozen food section of the supermarket. My sister has used them and has no complaints.

Just make sure the foods you freeze are in tightly sealed containers or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.
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Old 01-01-2010, 06:46 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
I can't imagine salt's losing saltiness in the freezer. Why would you freeze it?
I meant salt in cooked meals. Perhaps it's better to add salt later when heating the thawed meal.
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Old 01-01-2010, 06:50 PM   #4
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That makes sense.

Still, it's the same food and seasoning coming out of the freezer that went into the freezer. I can't figure how it could be less salty.

Anyway, I've never noticed that phenomenon. I'll pay more attention next time.
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Old 01-01-2010, 09:30 PM   #5
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Use only bags or containers desgined to be frozen. Using 'regular' ones mean no protection from freezer burn.
Something like carmelized onions I wouldn't bother freezing. I would consider these sort of a side or topping for a steak and nothing I would make in bulk. Spices too, I wouldn't freeze. I sometimes make double batches of soup or stew and freeze the other half.
Freezing food does change flavor and consistency in most cases. The longer it stays frozen the more distinct these changes are obvious.
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Old 01-02-2010, 02:23 PM   #6
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Something like carmelized onions I wouldn't bother freezing. I would consider these sort of a side or topping for a steak and nothing I would make in bulk.
Real caramelized onions are not that easy to make, it takes about 90 minutes. You have to use low heat and stir every 5 or 10 minutes. As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but then stir before they burn.

The trick is to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. As the onions cook, you will need to scrape the pan more often as they start burning more easily. This way you will get amazingly flavorful caramelized onions, it's delicious.

Most people don't seem to know how incredibly tasty caramelized onions are. This needs a separate thread! :)
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Old 01-03-2010, 03:29 PM   #7
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I would think that caramelized onions should freeze well for a few weeks since there is not really a texture change issue.

I used to do a lot of make ahead one day a week cooking (there are a lot of Once A Month Cooking OAMC websites with good information and ideas) ... especially when I was in college, working nights when I had to take my own meals or putting in a lot of overtime and didn;t have time to cook every day, and when I was taking care of my step-mother (I would prepare and freeze her meals and then all she had to do was heat them in the microwave when she was ready to eat).

The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a good section on "How Do I Freeze?" that covers most of the bases - and a lot of what I have learned from trial and error over the years. The General Information section covers what will/will not freeze well, what changes occur with certain things, and even includes the changes that happen with spices and seasonings, like:
  • Pepper, cloves, garlic, green pepper, imitation vanilla and some herbs tend to get strong and bitter.
  • Onion and paprika change flavor during freezing.
  • Celery seasonings become stronger.
  • Curry develop a musty off-flavor.
  • Salt loses flavor and has the tendency to increase rancidity of any item containing fat.
  • When using seasonings and spices, season lightly before freezing, and add additional seasonings when reheating or serving.
The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service has an excellent paper on Freezing Prepared Foods that also has a lot of good information on freezing, thawing and reheating frozen ingredients and prepared meals.
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Old 01-03-2010, 04:01 PM   #8
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Thanks Michael FtW, very beneficial information.
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