There are a lot of cooks in this world that use their freezer for ice cream and frozen peas and that’s about it. Ask them why and they will probably give you one of the following reasons:
- They don’t think it’s ‘safe’ – There is a common belief that anything that you make and freeze yourself is doomed to be contaminated by bad bacteria. This is totally irrational as most people will happily buy a pack of frozen party pies from the supermarket to heat up whilst watching the footy!
- They don’t know how long they can keep things in their deep freeze for before they deteriorate – This is understandable, but there are lots of websites (like this one!) and information resources out there to provide this kind of info.
- They think that their home-prepared then frozen meals don’t taste as ‘good’ – Well as long as food is properly sealed – Hello vacuum sealer! – and not left for decades lying in the cold, this is simply not true. In fact, quite the opposite.
Let’s have a look at these fears and see if we can put them to rest.
Vacuum Sealed Food is Safe Food
As long as you follow good food hygiene when you prepare food and seal it, it should remain free from contamination from bad bacteria.
Indeed, vacuum sealing actually removes the oxygen that most moulds and bad bacteria need to breed and so spoil food.
Remember also that the heating element on the vacuum sealer forms an airtight seal when you close the bag. This leaves your curry or chops safely wrapped in a protective plastic layer that germs etc can’t get through.
Putting this tightly sealed bag in the deep freeze only adds to the safety. The food will remain frozen solid and snugly wrapped until you remove it from the drawer and pop it in the fridge to defrost.
Vacuum Sealing and Freezing Extend the Life of Food
As I said above, because a vacuum sealer sucks out the oxygen from around your steak before it wraps it in a cosy layer of food grade plastic, nasty microbes can’t get into your rib-eye. And even if they were there to start with, there is no oxygen for them to live off and so they will die.
This means that food can last considerably longer in the freezer than if you just wrapped it in cling wrap and tossed it in.
The lack of air also means that ‘freezer burn’ is no longer a problem.
Vacuum Sealing and Freezing Boosts Flavour
Let me say straight off that I am a great fan of fresh food. There is very little processed food in my fridge and pantry and I like to cook things from scratch as much as I can.
But I’m also a busy person who doesn’t want to cook dinner right from Step 1: Chop the garlic every night of the week.
So I’m all for taking those fresh ingredients and using my vacuum sealer and freezer to help me out in the kitchen whilst saving me time and money.
One of the joys of owning a vacuum sealer is that problems like ‘freezer burn’ and food losing texture or colour in the deep freeze are eliminated. If you’d like to know more about this, you can read more here.
As for concerns that putting food in the freezer will somehow adversely affect the flavour of your dishes, with a vacuum sealer, you could well find that the opposite is true.
Let me explain why.
As I’ve said before, I struggle to understand people who don’t make full use of their freezer space. One of the reasons for this is that I firmly believe that some foods actually taste better after a spell in icy hibernation.
I was born in the UK and have a deep love for what the Brits call ‘a good curry’. And I’m also a firm believer that any spicy food ordered from the local Indian restaurant that is not eaten straight away tastes even more delicious the next day.
This means that I go out of my way to cook extra servings of things like lentil dahl and massaman beef curry so that I can vacuum seal meals for a later date. The time spent in the freezer allows all herbs and spices to get to know one another and create deep flavours. It also allows those flavours ro really penetrate the vegetables and proteins in the meal. The lamb in a rogan josh that has rested in the deep freeze for a couple of months will have spices right through it, not just on the surface.
Anything high in spice or seasoning, especially if it involves a good sauce, will only improve by being bagged up and left to sleep in the freezer. So the next time you make soup, a casserole, a curry or a pasta sauce make double or triple the amount. Use what you need and then portion the rest up with your vacuum sealer and freeze it for another evening. I bet no one complains that your dish has ‘lost’ any flavour when you come to reheat it.
In fact, my family often comments on how much better they think a meal tastes a fortnight later than when I made it before. Little do they know that it’s from exactly the same batch, but that the vacuum sealer and freezer have done their magic!
Marinated Raw Foods
A marinade is a really easy way to both tenderise meats and ramp up the flavours in a meal.
Take a slab of pork ribs and coat them in a mixture of grated ginger and garlic, soy sauce, honey and chilli. Let the marinade do its thing for an hour or 2 and then bake the ribs in the oven. Delicious! What more could you do to improve on the flavours?
Well, you could try vacuum sealing it.
Vacuum sealing food in its marinade or rub actually helps to draw the flavours from the marinade into it. And if you then freeze that perfectly vacuum sealed parcel of marinated loveliness, the spices and seasonings will continue to work their way into the piece of pork, leaving it packed full of flavor when you defrost it and take it out of its bag at a later date.
If you want to conduct a taste test, why not try the simple steak marinade in this link, vacuum seal your meat and flavourings, freeze it and then see how it goes down for dinner in a couple of weeks?
Becoming an ‘early marinater’ is also a great time and space saver. Some years ago, Nigella Lawson said that she liked to get her steak and chicken into a marinade as soon as she got them home from the shops and that she often froze her proteins in a bag full of flavourings.
Well, if it’s good enough for Nigella, it’s good enough for me!
When I unpack my shopping, I think about what I’ll make from my varied ingredients. If I have lamb chops or chicken thighs, I’ll break them out of their packaging and place them in a bowl with some spices and seasoning. One of my go-to recipes is grilled lamb chops marinated in rosemary, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. So I’ll toss my chops through the mixture and then portion them up into vacuum sealer bags for the freezer.
Three weeks later when I feel like eating chops, they will be as fresh and tender as when I bought them, but packed full of the yummy flavours of the marinade. Perfect.
For more on how you can use your vacuum sealer and freezer to streamline your food prep, you can read more here.