1. Make sure foods are cooled to room temperature before freezing. If foods are put into the freezer hot it increases the temperature in the freezer and could cause other foods to start defrosting.
2. Wrap foods securely in cling film, sealable plastic bags or airtight containers. If you do not exclude the air, foods run the risk of getting freezer burn. While not necessarily harmful this can affect the texture and flavour of the food.
3. Freeze food in size appropriate portions for your situation as an example if you are feeding 2 but have made a casserole for 4 – freeze in 2 separate containers to give you 2 meals.
4. Cooked foods can be re-heated from frozen. Suggest using a lower temperature to start with to enable the food to thaw, then increase the temperature to cook. Re-heated foods should reach an internal temperature of 75°C. Foods should only be re-heated once, which is why portion control is important.
5. Labelling the food going into the freezer is very important. Name. Date food was frozen. Number of servings and optional use by date. So often foods are put into the freezer and forgotten.
6. Do not re-freeze uncooked food. When food is thawed bacteria can multiply very quickly, so if you re-freeze the bacteria can survive and are more likely to reach harmful levels on the second thawing.
7. If your freezer breaks down or is turned off by mistake, providing the freezer is not opened food should remain frozen for about 24 hours.
8. Ensure your freezer is stacked in a logical order. Place the newest frozen foods in the bottom of the chest freezer or to the back of the upright freezer and move the older foods towards the top or front of the freezer. If you are super organised keep a log book of what you have in the freezer with the dates of when frozen and cross off when removed from the freezer.
9. Do not put glass containers in the freezer. The extreme temperatures may cause the glass to break.
10. Freeze food where appropriate, like meatballs, berries, fish pieces etc on a tray in a single layer. Once frozen transfer to sealable plastic bags or airtight containers. This allows you to remove as much as you like without them sticking together.
11. Don’t freeze vegetables with a high-water content such as lettuce, cucumber, bean shoots etc as once thawed they will not retain their texture and flavour.
12. Soft herbs do not freeze well if you are hoping to use them as a garnish but can be added into recipes to be cooked or stirred through at the end of cooking.
13. Don’t cook poultry or large pieces of meat from frozen but thaw in the refrigerator first.
14. Ice block containers are excellent for freezing items like lemon juice, herbs etc. Once frozen transfer to sealable plastic bags or airtight containers.