Flash freezing is one of the most useful freezing techniques. It’s an optional step in the freezing process of many foods, but in most cases, it’s totally worth to take the extra 5 or 10 minutes to do it. In this article, we will go through what flash freezing is, how to do it, and for what foods it makes sense to flash freeze them.
What is Flash Freezing?
Flash freezing is exposing food to freezing temperatures while allowing air circulation. We do it by throwing the food into the freezer without any wrapping and keeping it there until it freezes. This way of quick freezing keeps ice crystals that form during the freezing process small and the texture of the frozen food fairly intact. Also, frozen food pieces don’t form clumps. That means you can store a bunch of frozen food items in a single freezer bag and you still can pick a few without defrosting the rest.
How to Flash Freeze Foods?
Flash-freezing is no rocket science. The whole process involves only a few steps and usually takes a total of 5 to 10 minutes of work and a few hours of waiting. Here’s how it goes:
- Prepare individual food pieces for freezing. If you’re freezing veggies, that usually means peeling and cutting the veggie into pieces of desired size. It’s really up to you what the “desired” size is. For broccoli, it could be florets or floret-halves. For carrots, it could be whole carrots, halved carrots, and so on. For cooked meats, it could be baked chicken thighs, and so on. In short, prepare the food in a way it will be easy for you to take a piece or a few pieces and reheat or use in a recipe.
- Lay the food on a cookie sheet. Make sure the food lies as flat as possible. You want to give each piece a little room, so the pieces don’t freeze together, but the arrangement doesn’t have to be perfect. You can always separate the frozen bits once the food has been frozen.
- Pop the tray into the freezer and leave it there until the food freezes solid. The time until the bits freeze depends on the type and size of the food. Generally, small chunks of food will freeze solid within 2 to 3 hours, and larger pieces will take at least 4 to 5 hours. Whatever type of food you are flash freezing, just give it enough time to freeze solid. You can leave the food to freeze overnight or put it into the freezer in the morning so it’s frozen in the afternoon. No need to pay special attention to the clock. Freezing the food for a few hours more than necessary is fine.
- Once the food is frozen, take the cookie sheet out of the freezer and transfer the bits into freezer bags or freezer-safe containers. When it comes to freezer bags, make sure to squeeze as much air out of each bag before sealing. If you’re using opaque containers, you might want to add a label with the name and date to each container. Remember to seal the food tightly to avoid freezer burn.
- Return the freezer bags or containers into the freezer.
As you can see, this method requires little hands-on time and some waiting, that’s it.
Flash Freezing Tips
Here you can find a few tips related to flash freezing food:
- Make sure the food is completely dry. That’s especially important for veggies or raw meat. The easiest way to make sure the pieces are dry is to pat them with a paper towel before laying on the tray.
- Substitute cookie tray. A cookie tray is often used in flash freezing but any type of flat surface will do as long as it fits the freezer. Just cover your desired container with cling wrap or aluminum foil so the food won’t stick to the surface once flash frozen.
- Split frozen food into portions. To make reheating even easier, you can divide the flash-frozen food into serving-sized portions when packaging. This way you can just take a freezer bag or container of food and defrost it, no need for measuring how much you exactly need.
- Lay the cookie sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. If you’re flash-freezing foods with acidic ingredients, like lemon juice, tomato sauce, or vinegar, use plastic wrap instead. That’s because acid can react with aluminum foil.
Types of Foods to Flash Freeze
- Vegetables. You’ve probably bought frozen broccoli and other veggies. You can freeze them yourself too.
- Fruit. Same thing like with veggies.
- Raw meat, like hamburger patties, meatballs, and so on.
- Cookie dough, bread dough, pizza dough, and so on.
- Cheesecake and some other pies.