HOW TO FREEZE FOOD

Generally, food should be frozen on the day of purchase (although if it’s stored in the fridge you can extend this time to nearer the use-by date). Most ready meals and packaged raw meat and fish come with instructions as to whether they are suitable for freezing. Follow the label recommendations for how long you should store food in the freezer. If you exceed this date, there will be a deterioration in quality and texture.

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If you’re buying food from a butcher or deli counter, ask the sales assistant if it is safe to freeze it. Sometimes raw products have been previously frozen, meaning there’s an opportunity for unhealthy bacteria to grow if they are re-frozen.

It’s OK to freeze meat and fish again once they have been cooked in a dish. As a rule, cooked lefover dishes, soups and stews freeze well. Ensure they’re cold before freezing.

Use freezer bags with sealing clips or zip-lock tops and a permanent marker to label each bag. Clip tightly or fill to the top – don’t leave an air gap. Use rigid food containers for soups and liquids.

Foods that don’t freeze well:

• Raw foods with a high moisture content such as salad leaves, cucumber, watermelon or oranges, unless you plan to eat them frozen; they turn to mush when defrosted.

• Creamy foods like yogurt, cream and custard which will separate into curds and whey.

• Starchy foods like pasta and crumble toppings.

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