Tuesday’s Tip: Just Say No to Air!
A simple straw is one of my most valuable kitchen tools. Not only does it give the kids a great deal of fun in making silly creatures, makes drinking more for them, it also allows me to do freezer cooking without an electronic gizmo to suck out all the air.
I remember when I first got married, and my husband was in the kitchen with me while I was preparing some meals for the freezer. The look of confusion mixed with “this woman has gone round the bend” on his face when he saw me using this straw method made me laugh so hard! He’s since come to know how much it helps..and appreciates the work!
Granted, I have a Rival air sucker thing…it’s used lots! But I don’t always want to drag it out and set it up to do a few small things.
But you ask HOW a straw can help? First, let’s talk about WHY we need to do what it does.
#1 reason why food from the freezer is unappetizing (unless you have the unfortunate circumstance of it just being icky before you ever try to freeze it) is freezer burn. This is caused by inappropriate packaging, poor food handling, and air.
That’s right..the thing we need most in the world is the thing that can ruin our food from the freezer in a heartbeat. Your food is moist. Air draws out the moisture. Moisture on the surface of foods in the freezer freeze into ice crystals. Your food becomes dry on the inside, ice crystals have formed damaging the cell walls, and the excess air space allows for the freezer funk to set in.
There are two great ways to prevent freezer burn.
1. Just Say No to Air! This is where a straw comes in handy. I tend to pack my freezer zip top bag with a meal-sized portion, lay flat on a counter and roll out the extra air. Then I zip the bag up most of the way, inserting a straw into the opening. I pinch it closed, suck out as much air as humanly possible, and pull out the straw as I’m zipping the bag closed. This will get rid of a ton of air. Granted, at some point, zip top bags do fail. But for the most part, my foods stay as air-free as possible, thus preventing the biggest culprit of freezer burn there is.
With casseroles, I freeze in the container that it is going to be reheated in, pop it out, place in freezer zip top bags, and do the whole process again. When I’m ready to cook, I pull it out, pop it back into the container I will reheat it in, allow it to thaw, THEN cook it.
2. Freeze quickly. Preferably with as little cause to create moisture as possible, meaning foods that you stick in the freezer to freeze should not be warm. Try sticking it in the fridge first, to allow it to come to a cool temperature. This helps decrease the big shards of ice crystals that can form in and on the food as it freezes. Those ice shards damage t he cell walls in food, making it totally undesirable to eat when you pull it out of the fridge.
If you’ve not had great luck with freezing food, and it has that layer of wonky ice on it and has the stench of freezer funk, make sure you’re preparing your food properly, and give this ‘sucker’ (I CRACK MYSELF UP) a try!