Before I start this column I must confess that I waste food. I am trying not to.

At dinner last evening we were discussing freezing foods. Cooking for one person after cooking for a family of six people (with good appetites and not fussy) is hard. Shopping is not easy. It seems that foods come in large packages.

There are many reasons behind food waste, but simply buying more than you can use is a big one. Careful grocery shopping saves money right away.

It seems that I always prepare large amounts that I can eat for only so many days. Then I toss it in the rubbish. (That bothers me because there are hungry people in the world.)

When used properly the freezer can be a big help in saving food and preventing waste. A few quick habit changes will help food last longer. The art of freezing will extend the life of food. Freezing can turn peak-season produce into delicious eating all year.

Who invented frozen foods? Of course frozen foods have always existed in climates that were cold enough for the food to freeze. As you look through the frozen food section of the grocery store the items found owe their existence to Clarence Birdseye, who in the 1920s developed a quick –freezing   process that launched the frozen-food industry.

Between 1912 and 1917, Birdseye a Brooklyn native, lived in Labrador, where he worked briefly on a hospital ship and started a fox –breeding venture. It was during this period that he learned about the customs of those who would go ice-fishing then let their catch immediately freeze in the frigid air. When this fish, which was left out in the cold eventually was cooked, it tasted fresh.

Many of my friends love their freezers for storing over shopping on greenmarket trips and leftovers. It is also great help storing batches of soups, stews for quick and healthy meals.  Folks tell me that almost any food can be frozen. I am not good at freezing foods.

That said, I consider these tips from savethefood (http:// savethefood.com/tips/the-art-of-freezing) and some of these tips also came from Betty Crocker’s new cookbook:

I found the science of freezing foods helpful, useful and informative.

1. Freeze in portions. Think about real-life meal planning when you freeze. We can’t eat a whole loaf of bread at once. Then you can toast a slice or two right from the freezer. Use muffin tins to freeze stews and chili in portions that are perfect for lunch. (I do know that much.)

2. Keep it airtight. Less air=less freezer burn. (what happens when foods oxidize in the freezer) Squeeze excess air from plastic bags and containers.

3. Leave room for liquids. Most liquids expand in the freezer, so leave about half an inch at the top of containers to account for this.

4. You can put most foods straight into the freezer with minimal preparation, especially if you plan to eat them within a couple of days.

5. Label containers with contents and date, and use clear containers when possible so you can see what’s inside. Use longest stored foods first.

6. Always thaw frozen meats, poultry and seafood in refrigerator, never at room temperature. Allow about 5 hours for each pound. Or thaw foods in microwave following manufacturer’s directions, then cook immediately.

Freezing is a quick and convenient way to preserve fruits and vegetables at home. Home frozen fruits and vegetables of high quality and maximum nutritional value can be produced done correctly.

Directions are based on the chemical and physical reactions which take place during the freezing process, the scientific knowledge of the effect of freezing on the tissues of products and food microbiology.

 

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