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Old 07-06-2006, 06:45 PM   #1
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Freezing vegetables

I want to take advantage of freezing fresh produce, but dont want ice crystals and freezer burn.

If I need a vacuum sealer, is there one that is inexpensive ($25 or less?). Where would I find it? Can I use any freezer bags, or are the bags specific to the sealer?

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Old 07-07-2006, 11:17 AM   #2
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I've been freezing foods for longer than I care to remember. I only use freezer bags so have no experience with vacuum sealers.

The best advice to avoid freezer burn is to use the produce in a timely manner, i.e., under one year. I try to push out all air when I close the freezer bag. Broccoli seems to grow a lot of ice crystals, but I do not consider that a problem. Also try to get the produce dry before freezing, I use my salad spinner to do that. The easiest veggie ever to freeze is green peppers, they do not need blanching. ZipLoc freezer bags are the only ones I have seen sold locally.
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Old 07-07-2006, 11:21 AM   #3
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The major culprit in freezer burn is a frost free freezer. A non-frost free freezer generates much less freezer burn.

I have had an upright freezer for 6-7 years (requires defrosting) and rreezer burn is less of an issue for long term storage than for the stuff in the freezer that's part of the fridge.

Minimizing the air in the container with the food is the #1 best solution.
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Old 07-07-2006, 11:24 AM   #4
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You will not find a vacuum sealer worth anything for $25 or less. The ones that do what they are supposed to cost a bit more than that. They also do require special bags as the normal plastic bags (yes even Zip Lock) are pourous and breath. Over time even if you squeeze all the air out of them the air will seep back in.
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Old 07-07-2006, 11:28 AM   #5
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Amber, I received a food sealer from someone (they couldn't figure out how to use it) & now after regular use, would have paid full price and then some for it. I've seen them in department stores, on sale every couple of months. Best bet would be to wait till the store has a sale on kitchen stuff, then jump on it! Also, many dept stores have percentage off coupons that you can use along with the sale price. (That's how I got my electric can opener for $6!)
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Old 07-07-2006, 09:15 PM   #6
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The USDA's National Center for Home Food Preservation has a good primer on freezing foods - from general info to the best methods for specific foods.

Vacuum Sealers: yes, these do require special bags. No, they are not in the $25 or less catagory - and even the cheaper ones are going to be expensive ($75 or so). And, the bags are not all that cheap. They are great for long term (2-3 years) storage of some things, especially meats, but not absolutely necessary for produce.

Zip-Lock Bags: Get the freezer bags - they are much less porous than the regular ones which are only intended for short term storage in the refrigerator. I use these all the time for liquid items (soups, stews, chili, tomato sauces, etc.) - I just put the item into the bag, seal it leaving just a small 1/2-inch or so unclosed, squeeze out all the air I can without out expressing any liquid, and then finish sealing it. I then lay them flat in the freezer until frozen - and then I can stack or stand them up any way I want. I know this method works for 1-2 years storage.

Ice Blocks: Some things, like fruits in syrup or vegetables in water, can be frozen in cubes/blocks and then wrapped in vaporproof wrappings. This was basically the method used when frozen foods first hit the market - but only good to 6-12 months storage. They were blanched, frozen, packaged in waxed paper boxes, and then wrapped in waxed paper wrappers.

Like GB and Andy M. said - the biggest contributors to freezer burn are "frost-free" freezers, porous packaging, and air. The greatest lost of color, nutrition and texture in produce is the failure blanch before freezing.
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Old 07-07-2006, 09:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.
The major culprit in freezer burn is a frost free freezer. A non-frost free freezer generates much less freezer burn.

I have had an upright freezer for 6-7 years (requires defrosting) and rreezer burn is less of an issue for long term storage than for the stuff in the freezer that's part of the fridge.

Minimizing the air in the container with the food is the #1 best solution.
This is confusing to me. I have a frost free freezer (dont have defrost). So it's better to have a freezer that you have to defrost?
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Old 07-07-2006, 10:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bethzaring
I've been freezing foods for longer than I care to remember. I only use freezer bags so have no experience with vacuum sealers.

The best advice to avoid freezer burn is to use the produce in a timely manner, i.e., under one year. I try to push out all air when I close the freezer bag. Broccoli seems to grow a lot of ice crystals, but I do not consider that a problem. Also try to get the produce dry before freezing, I use my salad spinner to do that. The easiest veggie ever to freeze is green peppers, they do not need blanching. ZipLoc freezer bags are the only ones I have seen sold locally.
That could be part of my problem, the produce is not dry enough before freezing, which makes sense as to why ice crystals would form. I'll try drying them off and use the zip lock freezer bags, and of course get the air out of the bag.
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Old 07-07-2006, 11:32 PM   #9
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Vaccum sealers will not work with some veggies/fruits because they are not stout enough to withstand the vaccum and hold their shape.... in this case, you can freeze the veggie first then vaccum seal it.
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Old 07-08-2006, 03:35 PM   #10
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Thanks for that webstite Michael, very helpful. I will definately go with freezer bags since they are less porous, and also these will save alot of space in the freezer compared to containers.
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