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Tips for Busy Cooks: Smart Storage

  1. AK Home Cooking SolutionsIf you've cooked food to be used later or frozen (ground beef, chicken, etc.), wrap it only after it has reached room temperature. Wrapping food while still warm can cause harmful bacterial growth. Bring foods to room temperature as quickly as possible by removing them from their cooking vessels and spreading out on baking sheets or pouring into shallow containers. Chill or freeze as soon as they cool down. Learn more about food safety from the USDA

  2. If freezing brothy mixtures like soups and sauces, divide them into storage containers, leaving at least 1/2 inch at the top of the container to allow for expansion. Let cool to room temperature before freezing.

  3. Always mark packages clearly with the name of the contents and the date on which it was packaged. Write directly on the bag or on a piece of masking tape on the package using a permanent marker.

  4. As a rule of thumb, freeze items for no longer than six months; refrigerate for up to three days. Generally speaking, most foods can be frozen without worry, casseroles, soups, stews and chilies do very well; thaw completely before reheating. Breads, cakes, and cookies freeze well too. It's best not to freeze fresh vegetables unless they've been cooked briefly (blanched) first. Milk- or dairy-based items, like cream soups and cheese sauces tend to separate after freezing; this doesn't affect flavor but it does affect appearance. And never refreeze meat that's already been frozen and thawed, refreezing makes its texture mushy.

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