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place vegetables
vacuum seal
macaroni and cheese
cream cheese
fat content
time and money
Once A Month Cooking Guidelines
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Once A Month Cooking Guidelines

The most important step of starting once a month cooking is knowing what does and does not freeze well. When frozen, certain foods break down, becoming unusable. Others may break down making them unusable in their true form, but you can still cook with them. Knowing what foods freeze well and what ones don’t will save you time and money when starting once a month cooking.

Foods that are emulsions do not freeze well. Freezing damages these foods causing them to separate, curdle or turn to liquid. Creams, milk and mayonnaise are items that do not freeze well. Heavy creams with a fat content of 40% or more will freeze well. When thawed, heavy cream will not whip but is usable in recipes.

While some of these items separate, if you mix well, you can use them to cook with. Mayonnaise and cream cheese become watery and their texture changes, but you can mix them well and use them in different recipes. I buy cream cheese on sale and freeze then use it in mashed potatoes; mayonnaise, I use in chocolate cakes.

Butter is a cream item that freezes well. Be sure to leave butter in its original wrapper then place in a freezer bag or vacuum seal bag when freezing. After 8 months, the texture may change slightly but works great for cooking.

I’ve heard many people say you can’t freeze cheese. I have always done so with good results. White cheeses freeze the best. I always buy mozzarella in bulk and freeze, using it as needed straight from the freezer bag. Yellow cheeses don’t freeze as well but you can use them to cook with. I use frozen Cheddar in my macaroni and cheese.

Add more liquid than normal when making dishes for meals, such as lasagna or macaroni and cheese since freezing causes the liquid to thicken.

Most vegetables freeze well but need special processing, called blanching, before freezing. To blanch vegetables, briefly place vegetables in boiling water then transfer to ice water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry, bag and freeze for fresh tasting vegetables during the winter months.

Fruits also freeze well but preparation for freezing depends on the fruit you are using. Fruits like berries freeze well after harvesting while peaches, plums or apples need to wait a few days. Treat fruits with ascorbic acid or citrus juice to prevent browning then pack raw or with syrup.

You can freeze all meats with no special preparation needed. Simply trim fat and remove bones, cut into meal portions and place in containers, wrap or vacuum seal. Keep in mind that meat must be fresh to avoid spoilage. Never freeze in the containers they come in from the supermarket; always repack.

Seafood and fish freeze well but freeze as soon as possible after catching. Before freezing, clean and gut whole fish while leaving smaller fish whole and cutting larger fish into steaks.

Pastries freeze well but need careful attention to packaging. Sheets of pastry will stick together when frozen. Place freezer paper between each sheet before freezing, to make separation easier. You can freeze both cooked and uncooked pastries but remember that creams and custards do not freeze well, and meringue toppings will toughen.

Buying a freezer is a good investment; it not only saves time but saves money. The cost is not expensive as you can find good used ones for about a hundred dollars. I prefer an upright freezer but chest freezers are good too. If you don’t want a new one, check your local want ads or try an area resale shop.

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