Busy cooks like to cook for the freezer, but it can be difficult to know what can be frozen and what can't. Here's a guide to the big chill.
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 (*although Foaming Hollandaise can be frozen)
- 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!
Foods that freeze well
Meat, fish, sauces, soups, stock, baked cakes, bread, herbs, egg whites and yolks can all be frozen.
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; ½ 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
Combinations of solids and liquids, such as casseroles, should have a layer of liquid on top, with no solid food above the liquid. Leave space for the liquid to expand (see above).
Bear in mind that most foods can be frozen for up to three months; after this time, they may start to deteriorate.