Freezing prepared foods

I have heard a lot of people say they are doing a lot of cooking during this stay-at-home situation and I am one of them.  I always have loved to cook but now there is so much more reason and time.  But what about eating all those meals?  If you have a large family, you can cook double recipes and freeze some for later time when you are back at work or other activities and don’t have the time or inclination any more.  Preparing your own mixes is one good idea and freezing make-ahead meals is another great one!

Unfortunately the frozen prepared food never seems to taste as good as when made fresh and that deters a lot of people.  I struggled with that problem for a long time until I re-read my books on freezing and found what I was doing wrong.

First and most important is wrapping the food right.  It takes very little more time to really wrap food right.  If you are going to make a double recipe of a casserole, use two casserole dishes.  Line one with aluminum foil and when it is baked and cooled, freeze it in the casserole dish.  Then lift out the foil and the frozen casserole in one piece and wrap the foil around it.  Wrap another piece of foil around the whole thing, label it and put it back in the freezer.  When you want to use it, take it out, place in the same casserole you baked it in originally, and bake it in the oven–usually about 1-1/2 hours at 350, more or less depending on the size and depth of the casserole.  This not only tastes spectacular but retains its good looks too.  All wraps for frozen foods MUST be air and vapor tight.  If that means using double wraps, freezer bags, or vacuum devices to get all the air out–do it.  You won’t be sorry.

Baking is especially fun and rewarding during Covid-19 time.  Indeed, the stores are reporting shortages of flour!  Wow!!  People are baking everything (and eating it, too), especially bread.  I hope that this trend continues long after we are back to “normal” because there is nothing as easy and fun and delicious and nutritious as home-made bread.  And baked goods freeze especially well.  But if you have ever frozen a loaf of bread or any other breadstuff, and later it was damp, mushy or hard and freezer-burned you know what a disappointment that is.  Here’s what to do:  Cool the product completely before wrapping.  Wrap in air-tight, moisture-proof wrapping (such as double plastic), force as much air out of package as possible and seal tightly.  Also don’t plan on keeping it past three months for optimum results.

And if you can’t eat or freeze as much food as you are making, consider giving it away to older people, neighbors, friends, or anyone who you can drop it off to–Happy Coronavirus cooking!

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