If you’ve got a bunch of leftovers you want to keep for a while, you just need to stick them straight into the freezer, right?
When you put a group of food straight into the freezer as is – like berries, some cheesecake, or lasagna for example – you’ll then need to deal with a big chunk of frozen food when you want just a small part of it. That rarely ends well.
Instead, you need to flash freeze the food. So, what is flash freezing?
We’ll answer this question, and more below!
What Is Flash Freezing?
In the professional food industry, flash freezing refers to the method of using ultra-low temperatures to freeze food quickly.
For those of us who don’t have access to industrial freezers, flash freezing is when you freeze single pieces or servings of food – like berries, or a slice of cheesecake – before packing them together to store in the freezer for a long time.
An example: say you have a group of chicken breasts you want to store in the freezer. If you put them all together as is in there, when you need to grab one or two to cook, you’ll have a chunk of breasts stuck together and you’ll need to pry one off.
By flash freezing them first, you’ll be able to easily grab one or two from the container without needing to hack away at a frozen chunk of chicken with a knife.
Read on to find out how to flash freeze foods, what the benefits are, and which foods you can flash freeze.
How To Flash Freeze Foods
To flash freeze foods correctly, you need to do some prep first.
Make sure you’ve got the equipment ready; all you’ll need is a baking tray and then an airtight container or freezer bag. It’s also a good idea to line the baking tray with parchment paper to make cleaning up easier.
You need to prepare the food you’re going to flash freeze. For fresh produce like berries, you need to wash the food in water first then pat it dry with a paper towel.
If need be, split the food up into individual pieces or servings. This is applicable for things like chicken breasts, meatballs, or cooked meals like lasagna or meatloaf.
Once the food is ready, separate out onto the baking tray, ensuring none of the pieces touch each other – if they do, they’ll fuse together when they freeze.
Place the tray of food in your freezer and leave it there for a short while. The timing will depend on the type of food and how much there is.
Once it’s all frozen, remove the tray from the freezer and then place all of the food into an airtight container or freezer bag, then this can go in the freezer for the long term. Job done!
An extra tip: label the container or freezer bag with the type of food and the date you put it in the freezer.
Benefits Of Flash Freezing
It might seem like a lot of fuss compared to just sticking food straight into the freezer, but there are important benefits to flash freezing.
First off, it minimizes waste. Freezing food in general means you’re throwing less away as you’ll be making it last longer, but flash freezing takes this a step further.
It allows you to remove individual servings of food at a time, rather than a large chunk, meaning you can make the most of the leftovers in your freezer.
Another major benefit of flash freezing is convenience. As outlined above, if you flash freeze your food you won’t need to contend with big frozen masses of food that turn out quite unappetizing.
Instead, you can just grab the bits you need and thaw them out.
Foods That Can Be Flash Frozen
Technically, most foods that come in individual pieces – or can be split into individual pieces – can be flash frozen, regardless of them being raw or cooked.
However, there are some types of food that are particularly suited to flash freezing and others that are not so good for it.
Here are some examples of foods that can be flash frozen:
- Portions of meat (split up into individual portions), like chicken breasts, steaks and pork chops
- Burger patties, hot dogs, meatballs
- Individual portions of fish
- Individual slices of cake or pie
- Baked cookies, scones, muffins
- Unbaked cookie dough (shaped into individual pieces)
- Baked bread slices
There are other foods that, while they technically can be flash frozen, will lose texture, quality, and flavor if put through the process.
Some foods that should not be flash frozen are:
- Eggs in shells
- Cooked egg whites or yolks
- Battered and fried foods
- Stuffed meat
- Fresh fruit or vegetables – this is with the exception of berries. Most fruit and vegetables require extra steps to make them suitable for flash freezing, like blanching
- Soups and stews – these can be frozen, but it’s not appropriate to flash freeze them in a baking tray as they are liquid
How Long Does Flash Frozen Food Last?
Flash freezing food doesn’t alter the amount of time it will last for when compared with putting food in the freezer as is.
Food stored below 0°F will always be safe to eat, but the longer something is kept frozen, the more its quality will diminish.
Generally, raw and cooked foods should be consumed within 3 months of freezing, though fresh produce like berries can maintain flavor and quality for up to a year.