Stella's Kitchen Tips & Tricks  -  Freezer Tips

Double Do It! When preparing good food like oatmeal pancakes from scratch or foods that take longer to cook (such as brown rice), it's a smart idea to double the recipe and freeze the extra portions in individual portions. This saves money and time and also ensures you get optimum nutrition even when you're on the go.

Re-Wrap Your Meat:  Rewrapping your meat with freezer paper or heavy plastic wrap will extend the freezer life of your meat.  Be sure to date your packaging if you've divided and repacked a store package or can no longer see the label on the meat.

Freezer Storage Times:
Ground Beef: 3-4 months
Stew Meat, Kabob Meat, or Stir-Fry cuts: 6-12 months
Steaks & Roasts: 6-12 Month
Chicken: 3-12 months

Note: Ground beef, tenderized, pre-cut chunks, and small thin cuts have a larger percentage of surface area per pound exposed to air and therefore, will be on the shorter end of the storage cycle time.  Marinating meat also reduces freezer life so be go with the conservative end of the storage times listed above.

"Flash Marinate": Flash marinating is a special trick I use in my kitchen that those challenged with time constraints will come to appreciate. When you get home from the store, divide your chicken into your typical useable portions. If you buy the bags of frozen breast, that’s fine for this method too! Grab some freezer bags or tightly sealed containers and place the chicken in each container.

Toss in your favorite spices and other marinade ingredients. Anything acidic, like wine, lemon juice, any type of vinegar, and even salsa will tenderize the meat. Other dry items will simply flavor it. Store immediately in the freezer.

When you take the packages out to thaw overnight in your fridge, you will simultaneously be allowing the spices and marinade to release flavors and tenderize the chicken. You will not perceive any expense of time, just enjoy a great meal. If you try this, be sure to consume the chicken within the month as the marinades will reduce the usual freezer storage time.

Defrosting:  ALWAYS defrost your meat in the refrigerator.  Meat left out on the counter is simply a breeding ground for bacteria.  Bacteria counts double every 20 minutes that meat is left out uncovered at room temperature.

Quick Thaw: Small muffins or bread slices thaw quickly in the toaster.  If you catch a good sale price, don't expect to use the whole package right away or simply or have leftovers, just store them in the freezer.  "Pre-toast" the slices once or twice and you'll have a sufficiently thawed piece that isn't soggy at all.

~ Stella