General freezing tips
Although we have given comprehensive freezing information for each of Delia's recipes, there are some general principles that are useful to know. Apply these to other recipes and you won't go wrong!
Delia says, ‘Among the few foods that cannot be successfully frozen are egg-based sauces, such as mayonnaise (these tend to separate with thawing), salad vegetables, celery and dishes containing melons, avocados, bananas, and hard-boiled eggs – which become very rubbery.
It's worth freezing herbs that you use regularly: mint, parsley, chives, tarragon are all excellent. Wash and dry them before freezing whole (pack herb sprigs into polythene bags, tying sprigs of parsley, thyme and a bay leaf together for a bouquet garni) or chopped (pack them into ice cube trays, cover with water and freeze. Tip frozen cubes into a polythene bag). Store in the freezer for up to six months.’
Foods that should not be frozen
* foods with a high water content, such as tomatoes, marrows, cucumbers, strawberries, radishes, lettuce and watercress.
* egg-based sauces, such as hollandaise or mayonnaise
* bananas, kiwi fruit and pomegranates.
* dairy products such as cream, milk, yoghurt. However, butter and cheese can be frozen.
* eggs in their shells, as they will burst!
* Offal, unless it is cooked first. This is because offal has very often already been frozen and it is dangerous to refreeze raw products that have defrosted.
* Seafood, as it has very often been frozen already. It can, however, be frozen once cooked.
Foods that freeze well
Meat, fish, sauces, soups, stock, baked cakes, bread, herbs, egg whites and yolks can all be frozen.
Bear in mind that most foods can be frozen for up to three months; after this time, they may start to deteriorate.
Freezing solid food
Pack them as tightly as possible, so that you expel as much air as possible. Wrap foods in freezer wrap, which does not create air pockets, or polythene boxes. If a container isn’t full, fill the gap with crumpled foil or non-stick paper.
Remember that liquid expands by 10 per cent when frozen, so do not over-fill containers – leave a 1 in (2.5 cm) space in a 1 pint (500 ml) container; 1/2 inch (1 cm) in a half pint (300 ml) container. If you don’t do this, soups, sauces and fruits in liquid will push off their lids, once frozen.
Freezing solids plus liquids
Casseroles and stews are hugely popular for freezing. Line a casserole dish on the inside with foil, spoon in your casserole or stew. Once frozen, remove from the dish and wrap in more foil. To defrost, peel off the foil and place back in the same dish to defrost and re-heat. This also works well with a large polythene bag – make sure it is securely fastened to protect the food inside.
When re-heating stews and casseroles, a little water may need to be added as the meat and vegetables absorb more of the initial liquid.
Cooling dishes from hot
Try to do this as quickly as possible. Immerse the hot saucepan in a sink of cold water that comes halfway up the up the side of the pan and stir frequently. Keep replacing the water as it will warm up from the residual heat. Cool until the contents of the pan is at room temperature and transfer into your freezing container.
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