Thursday, September 29, 2011

Refrigerating and Freezing

Ugh. . . this is the last essay.  I'll need to hammer on it some more, but the hard first draft is done.  I also had friends review the "food safety" essay, and they gave me great feedback, which I have implemented.

This leaves two more soup recipes I would still like to shoehorn in, and then lots of revisions.

This vacation is turning out to be quite productive!

Refrigerating and Freezing Your Cooked Foods

Cooked foods need to be eaten, refrigerated, or frozen within two hours of being cooked. The sooner the food is refrigerated or frozen, the longer it will last, and the quality will remain higher for longer.

The USDA recommends that refrigerated leftovers be eaten or thrown away within two days. However, foods that are cooked for later use, if handled carefully and refrigerated promptly, can be good for up to five days when refrigerated . This makes it possible to cook meal elements on a weekend (such as Boiled Beans #, Boiled Grains #, or Pot Roast #) that can be assembled into quick week-night meals.

When you need to put a hot food into the refrigerator or freezer, avoid leaving it out to cool at room temperature, because this extends the time that the food will spend in the danger zone. You can cool some foods quickly (such as boiled grains, boiled beans, or steamed vegetables) by putting the food in a colander and running cold tap water over it. You can cool a large pot of food by setting it in a sink filled with ice and water. Large chunks of meat or whole poultry can be cooled by cutting up the meat and placing it on a cold plate before moving it into a container for storage.

While you can cool food by moving it directly to the refrigerator or freezer, if you do this with too large a quantity of food, you run the risk of putting everything in the refrigerator or freezer in the danger zone. If you need to do this, make sure the hot food has as much space around it as possible, so that the cold air can circulate.

Hot glass cookware should not be cooled quickly, because it could shatter.

When handling foods prior to storage, practice safe food-handling: wash your hands, and also handle the food as little as possible with your hands.

Refrigerates foods can be moved into the freezer at any time. However, a food that is on the verge of spoiling before freezing will be just as bad when it comes back out of the freezer. The sooner you freeze your food, the better.

“Disposable” plastic boxes are ideal for refrigerating and freezing foods, because they are inexpensive and can be washed and reused until they break. These boxes come in a range of sizes, and can be heated in the microwave. To remove a frozen block of food from one of these boxes, run some hot tap water over the box. Do note, however, that these boxes become brittle when frozen, which can make them shatter when dropped.

When freezing soups, boiled grains, beans in their cooking water, or other wet food, it helps to save the food in individual serving sizes. Baby food and broth can be frozen in ice-cube trays and then moved to a sealed container. Chopped greens can be saved in any sized container, because the desired amount can be easily broken off with a fork. To keep them from sticking together, slices of meatloaf, pancakes, French toast, and similar items can either be frozen on a cookie sheet, and then moved to a container; or they can be frozen separated by pieces of parchment paper. Cooked beans and meatballs can also be frozen first on a cookie sheet in order to keep them from sticking together into one large mass.

Fresh produce can be be “blanched” (dipped in boiling water) and then frozen for long-term storage. More information on blanching can be found online at

The safest way to thaw frozen food is in the refrigerator. Small items will require a day or two to thaw in the refrigerator. Larger items, such as turkey, will take about one day to thaw for each 4 or 5 pounds.

Smaller quantities of frozen food can be thawed safely in a bowl of cold water, or in the microwave on the “defrost” setting. Never leave food to thaw at room temperature.

More information on freezing can be found at

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