(Photo: There Was a Crooked House)
It's no secret that freezing leftovers can make them last longer, however all too often frozen leftovers take up an incredible amount of space in the freezer. Worse, they may not always freeze properly, so when you reheat them later the foods suffer from sogginess or freezer burn. Well here are some solutions to your leftover problems.
First, make sure your foods are cooled before freezing. If you try to freeze something that's hot, condensation will cause ice crystals to form which will result in a soggy reheat for dry foods, or just simple freezer burn.
When freezing, use freezer bags for flat storage, especially for liquids like gravies, salsas, and soups. Make sure you get as much air out of the bags as possible. The same goes for most meats: wrap them individually in plastic wrap, freeze them, and store in a freezer bag. This should allow you to stack your foods in the fridge.
Make sure to label and date your food. Freezing food does help it last longer, but that isn't infinite. Here's a decent guideline for how long food is good for. Past these times, the food isn't dangerous, but it will suffer from deterioration in texture and flavor.
- Uncooked chicken or turkey: 9 months
- Unbaked fruit pies: 8 months
- Fresh fruit: 6 to 12 months
- Uncooked steak: 6 to 12 months
- Butter: 6 to 9 months
- Lean fish: 6 months
- Uncooked roast: 4 to 12 months
- Cooked chicken or turkey: 4 to 6 months
- Uncooked chops: 4 to 6 months
- Uncooked shellfish: 3 to 6 months
- Hamburger: 3 to 4 months
- Cookies - baked or dough: 3 months
- Cooked meat casseroles: 3 months
- Fatty fish: 2 to 3 months
- Soups and stews: 2 to 3 months
- Ice cream and sorbet: 2 months
- Cooked ham: 1 to 2 months
- Bacon: 1 month