Every now and again I throw the terms “flash freezing” around. Sometimes it is in reference to saving that fresh produce until your cooking day, other times it is in reference to quickly freezing cooking day menu items to cool them down. Either way, I often get questions about how exactly you “flash freeze” items. Hence, this post.
It basically means that you cool the object down very quickly in order to quicken the freezing process. In our case we do it for two different types of products; produce and baked goods. Here is a little more about each.
When you purchase produce on sale and it is still several weeks from your cooking date, you can, in some instances, flash freeze those items. There are some produce items that just do not freeze well so make sure you check the list before you purchase. A few items that we have flash frozen:
When making baby food, we purchased some blueberries that were on sale several weeks before we were going to make the baby food. To flash freeze them we simply washed the blueberries, dried them a bit and then placed them on a cookie sheet, in a single layer. We placed them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes or until they were slightly hardened/frozen. We then immediately placed them in a freezer bag for storage.
Again, raspberries were on sale at a price that couldn’t be passed up. Following the same procedure as the blueberries, I washed them, dried them, put them on a cookie sheet in a single layer and when hardened, placed them in a freezer bag.
I use flash freezing a lot with mushrooms. They seem to go on sale throughout the month and I sometimes even buy them whole, slice them in my food processor, and then proceed with flash freezing. I use the same method as outlined above.
You will see me use the term “flash freeze” when refering to items that are baked in the oven. When they have come out of the oven, if they are placed directly into a package or freezer bag they will produce moisture in the bag or stick together with the other items. In some cases, I don’t have the space or room to let them cool for an hour on my work surfaces, so I will “flash freeze” them.
In the case of baked items, you do much the same as the produce. You placed them in a single layer on a cooled cookie sheet or tray. (I will sometimes let them sit out in the open for 15-20 minutes before starting this process. I don’t want them to be too warm). You then place them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes or until they have cooled completely or are starting to harden from freezing. Then I remove them and place them in freezer bags for storage.
Cooking Day Preparation
Since I may have to flash freeze on my cooking days, I usually clear out a cookie sheet size area in my refrigerator freezer (close proximity to my cooking area) for this purpose. It helps in the cooking process and it saves my chest freezer from working too much overtime. After all, I add a lot of food to it in one day.
It might be helpful to have some resources available to review about flash freezing. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Freezing fruits without a sugar pack
- National Center for Food Preservation – How do I freeze? – a one stop spot for all of the produce items that freeze well and how to prepare them for the freezer.
- How long can I store frozen foods
- Effective thawing methods