The five golden rules of freezing foods

Have you ever defrosted the wrong meal, mistaking the chilli for the bolognese? Or defrosted your dinner to discover that it has freezer burn?

Used well, a freezer can be a cook’s best friend; saving time, money and helping you to get a delicious dinner on the table, pronto. However, a badly organised freezer can quickly turn into a nightmare if you don’t follow these five golden rules.

1. What shouldn’t you freeze: As a general rule, any fresh produce that has a high water content won’t freeze well - think lettuce, cucumber and herbs. Fresh eggs in their shell or hardboiled also won’t freeze well, nor will dairy (with the exception of butter).

2. How to portion: Sure, it’s easy to put the whole 2kg sirloin into the freezer, but what if you only need 500gms for dinner? Save time (and trouble) by portioning your food in realistic servings before you freeze it.

3. Use the right container: Air is the death of frozen foods, causing freezer burn and impacting the taste and appearance. Refrain from putting supermarket packages of meat directly into the freezer and invest in some freezer bags instead. If you’re using a container, make sure it’s the correct size and is air-tight.

4. Label it: To help you effectively manage your freezer, good labelling is crucial. Include what the food is (like that chicken, or was it turkey?) and the purchase date so you know what you need to use first.

5. Make it flat: Try and make the food or portion as flat as you can to save space. This works well with freezer bags that can be sealed (air-tight) and labelled. You can even stack the food or organise it upright in the freezer drawer.