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Freezing and Reheating

Making extra food to freeze for later use is a great way to save time. It is important to know the best ways to freeze and reheat foods in order to avoid loss of flavor, spoiling and bacteria growth. Use the following tips to save time and decrease waste.

Freezing Tips

  • Use fresh ingredients.
  • Line pans with freezer-safe wrap. Slightly undercook foods (about three-quarters of the total time required).
  • Cool dishes before freezing. Once food stops steaming, place it in the refrigerator or freezer immediately. To avoid bacteria growth, food should not be left out for longer than two hours.
  • Use wraps (foil or plastic) and containers (glass or ceramic) labeled for freezing.
  • Leave room for food to expand (about 1" to the top of container).
  • Put foods in the coldest part of the freezer first.
  • Label foods with date, name of food and last date to be used. Use the "Safe Food Storage" sheet in this section for guidance.
  • Rotate! Rule of thumb: "first in, first out." Be sure to move foods so that those put in the freezer first are used first.

Freeze Well

  • Cooked chicken or turkey
  • Stews (except those with potatoes and cream broths)
  • Cooked dry beans
  • Combination dishes (cover meats in sauces)
  • Bread

Do NOT Freeze Well

  • Cooked eggs
  • Potatoes
  • Salad greens, raw tomatoes, apples and grapes
  • Mayonnaise
  • Milk-based sauces and gravies
  • Cooked plain pasta or rice

Reheating Tips

Conventional Oven

  • Defrost food in the refrigerator prior to reheating. Defrosting should occur 24 hours to 3 days in advance. Once food is defrosted it should stay in the refrigerator no more than 5 days.
  • Preheat oven to temperature on recipe.
  • When cooking a defrosted food, cook for one-third to one-half more time than time listed on recipe.
  • Bake to at least 165°F.

Microwave Oven

  • Remove wrapping and place food in microwave-safe dish.
  • Cover with waxed paper or glass lid.
  • Use defrost setting (10 - 15 minutes per pound or 4 servings).
  • Microwave times vary depending on settings. Check your manual to determine best cook times for foods. Start with a low time (3 - 5 minutes depending on size), rotate food and cook again for the same time. Cook until 165°F throughout.