Sunday, March 21, 2010

Freezing Foods

We really should be keeping two types of food storage. First, foods that we use in our day to day cooking, and then long term food storage as well. I usually refer to the two different stores as my 3 months storage, and my year's supply.

My year's supply is made up completely of shelf stable foods that are in #10 cans or buckets and can last for years. My 3 month supply is made up of canned goods from the store, pre-packaged foods, and items that I have frozen.

After living off this stuff for 3 months now, I just want to put a plug in for freezing food. It's not ideal for long term storage, and of course they lose all value if we are not able to stay at home, with the electricity on, but it's great for being able to store foods you otherwise would not be able to.

First off I freeze my bread dough. I make enough for 6 loaves once a week, bake 2 right away and freeze the rest in individual loaves. The key to this I have found, is letting the dough you are going to freeze, rise in the fridge. So I put the dough for the loaves I'm going to freeze in a large bowl and cover with a towel, then I put it in the fridge to rise at least an hour. Then I punch it down, divide into separate loaves and roll them up in greased saran wrap, and put them in the freezer. Even at that, they will continue to rise in the freezer. If they happen to grow larger than your loaf pan, it's ok, it softens quickly and you can reshape for your pan. Just let frozen dough rise until double and bake as usual. Of course you can just bake all your loaves at once and then freeze but I don't have that many loaf pans, and I just LOVE the smell of fresh baked bread several times a week in my house.

Cheese is another GREAT item to freeze. I was already freezing sliced cheese by buying it in bulk from Costco and then putting it in my freezer. If you defrost it in the fridge, the texture stays virtually the same. You can freeze blocks of cheese as well; however, it will become crumbly if you try to grate cheese that has been frozen. To avoid that, I buy grated cheese in a bag and put that in the freezer. Again, defrost in the fridge. I know that pre-grated cheese costs a little more but believe me, if you have to live without cheese, no cost will seem too great :) You might be able to grate your own blocks of cheese and then freeze it. I haven't tried that but I would be a little worried that it might turn into a giant clump of cheese and not stay separated like the store bought cheese does.

One other great thing to freeze is eggs. You can live off powdered eggs (believe me, I know) but there is just no subsitute when you are craving a fried egg, so you might want to consider freezing some eggs. My friend told me how to do it. I borrowed her rubber muffin tins, sprayed them with pam, broke one egg into each, scrambled up the yolk, and then put them in the freezer.

After they were frozen, I just popped them out and used my foodsaver to vacuum out the air and store them in the freezer.

I also store some with the yolks unbroken so I can have fried eggs :) As you can see from the picture they defrost beautifully.

One thing though, while the yolk was somewhat runny it also remained a little firm. The taste was the same but it might not work out well if you were putting them raw into a baking recipe so it's a good idea to store some with the yolk broken up before freezing it.

As you are aware, many items can be frozen, especially if you have a food vacuum and the freezer space. Like anything, you can build up a supply a little at a time. We were doing that before with meat from Costco, and 3 months into eating our food storage, we even still have a little meat in our freezer. We save it for fast Sundays so we don't have it often but I can't begin to put into words the morale booster it is to have a treat like that, even once a month.

I'm putting up a recipe up for Frozen Fruit Cocktail. I used to make this every summer in my former life :)

I make a huge batch when peaches come into season, put them in the freezer, and have fruit salad all year round. Plus you always have an excellent side dish that is ready at a moments notice. It is SUPER yummy!


  1. Yay! So the unbroken yolked eggs turned out? Cool, I'll have to do it. I'll tell you that I just used some of my eggs from the freezer today in a recipe (and yesterday too--we're out of eggs until I go to the store again) and they worked great. I even scrambled one for one of the kids to eat while making dinner and it was good. These eggs I used were frozen *last September*, so they really do last a while.

  2. Hmm. I never knew you could freeze eggs without scrambling them. I might try it...if the darned things ever go on sale again. I told my sister that I think I've forgotten what eggs look like. :P

    As for the cheese, it works fine to grate your own. I find pre-grated cheese gross. When cheese goes on sale, I grate up multiple pounds with my Bosch and freeze it. As long as you don't squish it into the container, it separates beautifully while frozen.

    One more freezer myth busted while we're at it - they say you can't freeze homemade cream-of soup. I used homemade cream-of-chicken soup for my big batch of funeral potatoes, and it tasted and looked fine when I defrosted and baked a pan.

  3. I am learning so much Sherida. Thanks for doing this blog. Keep it up!! Do you have a list of all the stuff and how much you are storing? I would think it would be on your you just make a spread sheet? I am so lacking in knowledge about this subject!
    Thanks! Cyndi

  4. I do have a spreadsheet. I think that I can just post a link to it. It's on my list of things to do because several people have asked me about that. I will try to get it up sometime this week. Anything you want to know, just feel free to ask. I think we all learn so much from each other but it's hard to anticipate what people might want to know.

  5. I've been making whole wheat bread for about 2 years now but have never tried freezing the dough for later (which sounds great!). When you take out the frozen dough and put it in the pan- about how long does it need to sit on the counter until you can bake it? Also- do you make whole wheat bread or white?

  6. I make half white - half wheat but you can freeze any dough. Just let it rise the first time (in the fridge to slow down the yeast), punch it down and shape into a loaf to freeze.

    It depends on the time of year for how long it takes to defrost. It's longer in the winter when it's colder, shorter in the summer. Right now it takes about 6 hours for mine to defrost and rise.

  7. Have you tried shaping the bread dough into rolls or hot dog buns and freezing them pre-shaped? I have been experimenting with this and am looking for input