Originally Posted by sundowner
I have started freezing soups, chilli etc in the plastic glad containers. How can I prevent the frozen food from getting a layer of ice on it? How can I prevent freezer burn?
How cold is the mixture before you freeze it? If you are going to make a mixture to freeze, try placing a 1-2 inch deep stainless steel, metal tray in the freezer for about I hour at some point when you are cooking the mixture that you intend to freeze. Allow the mixture to cool by turning into a cold pot/bowl as soon as it is cooked and then place the mixture you want to freeze in the chilled tray after about 1 hour. Spread to a thin layer, place in the fridge and cool. Stir a couple of time whilst it is cooling.
Now, I accept that this might seem to use a lot of pots/bowls but if you are making a quantity then all you need is a sink of hot soapy water to clean the pots/bowls that you use as you progress from one stage to another. Consequently, you will simply clean up as you cook! I don`t find this a problem as, as an ex-chef I always have a sink/plastic sink bucket of VERY hot soapy water in which to place utensils that I no longer need or wish to wash before using again!
The next stage is to pack.
Herein comes the difficulty. For soups and stews I keep all 250 ml sauce cartons and all 500 ml cartons of Greek yogurt that I buy from a supermarket for future use when freezing sauces and soups.
Make sure that you wash them out very carefully using a brush (sterillised) to get into all corners and very hot water. Dry and set aside. Place a freezer bag in your chosen pot - 250 mls or 500mls. Fill with the sauce (250mls) or soup (500mls) to fill the pot and just 1/4 inch less for a 250 ml pot and 1/2 inch less in a 500ml pot, than the level of the pot. Carefully, insert a plastic straw, gently twist the poly bag around the straw and then suck out any remaining air. How do you know when this has been achieved? Actually, it is vey easy. When the soup or sauce enters the straw, air has been removed. At this point you should remove the straw and seal the bag. Freeze the soup/sauce in the sealed bag, in the container. Next day (or 2 in my case) remove the bag from the pot and LABEL with the contents. Clean the pot - sauce or yogurt carton, dry and set aside for use on another day.
This method should reduce freezer burn and give you labelled items which are easy to stack in the freezer.
I cannot stress enough the need to label foods when placing in the freezer. The sermon from Mount Archiduc comes from bitter experience! I recently removed what I thought was a savoury mince and then carefully cooked potatoes to add to make a nice, tomato enriched, mince and potato (mashed) pie. I was horrified to discover I`d defrosted (in the fridge) and lusted for 12 hours over a big pot of curry sauce - not my savoury mince. And this for neighbours who had asked for my jazzed up "Cottage Pie". They laughed, I didn`t. They had an egg curry and I had egg on my face!
The straws that you need to remove the air are simply plain white bulk buy straws. Cooling the mixture as advised above and using straws to remove air from a cooled and chilled mixture should ensure that freezer burn and the development of ice crystals is kept to the minimum.
Hope this helps,