Reducing your plastic waste… in the freezer.
I have noticed when talking to people one of the areas they have trouble with, is removing plastic from their freezer. Freezing is one of the most convenient ways to avoid food waste, but most people rely heavily on plastic to store their food, coming in the form of freezer bags, zip lock bags or containers. Even shopping for frozen food means your purchase often comes in plastic, making you feel this is the only way to freeze food appropriately. So how do you avoid it and why should you?
Why you shouldn’t freeze with plastic
It may be convenient to use plastic, but it can have a huge effect on your health long term, as well as the environment.
For your health
Many plastics are made with chemicals which will leach into your food (e.g. bisphenols A and S), which build up over time in your body and can have a huge effect on your health. Many of them are hormone disruptors, which can lead to a range of illnesses. A lot of us tend to microwave frozen food, which increases the number of toxins released from the plastic into the food and also into the atmosphere.
For the health of the planet
As I’m sure you have heard before, plastic tends to be single-use and its use doesn’t last forever (it functions only for a short period). It can be very difficult to recycle and even when it is recycled, only a percentage can be used. So much of the plastic ends up in your rubbish bin, which means it will remain in landfill for hundreds of years to come, as it decomposes at a very slow rate.
So, what is safe to use
Glass containers are a healthy option and come in many forms – containers, jars and bowls. They are also reusable. The trick with freezing items in glass is to leave enough space to allow the food to expand, particularly if the food is more of a liquid consistency. I tend to use my thumb to gauge the space needed. Measure from the top of the thumb to the knuckle (approx. 1.5cm/1inch).
Mason jars are the strongest and are easy to seal as they come with their own cap. It is best to add the food to the jar and allow it to freeze, before closing the lid on top.
Other containers such as casserole bowls may not have lids and they can be covered with beeswax covers or aluminium foil.
If you are in need of containers suitable for freezing, you don't have to go far as we stock a range of reusable containers and bags to store all your food. Check them in earthly passion for the home.
Stainless Steel and other metal containers
Another healthy material to use is stainless steel. It tends to be more durable as it doesn’t break like glass, but please remember you can’t microwave the food in a metal container. Also, it is not the best to use with acidic foods like citrus fruit, as it starts to erode away the metal.
Sometimes when I am baking, I make a double amount. One to have that day and one for the freezer. No need to remove from the cake tin, just cover with tin foil once cooled before placing in the freezer.
Also, if you have fruits like berries, grapes or even sliced peaches or plums. Lay them out on a baking tray (I tend to place baking paper underneath them, so they separate easily from the tray) and freeze. You can leave them on the tray once frozen or place in a freezer container.
The ideal replacement for plastic zip lock bags, reusable storage bags will help you and your family eat healthy. Have snacks and lunches prepared in advance and frozen to just grab and go in the morning on the way to school or work. Easy to clean and completely sealable.
Paper, like butcher’s paper, is a good option for short term freezing (less than 3 weeks). Great for keeping items clean and protecting from freezer burn if wrapped in enough paper. I cover my breads and cakes with this or even some vegies like celery because I know I will be using them very soon.
Tea towels can be another good alternative and they are easy to tie up. Good with the drier foods that don’t stain.
Aluminium foil, as mentioned can be great for wrapping items. It can get holes easily which can lead to freezer burn but using it in conjunction with paper (first wrapping in paper and then aluminium foil), seals in the freshness and the food lasts longer. Remember only roll up clean aluminium into a ball before recycling.
Beeswax wraps are similar as they seal in the freshness. Just note, they need to be removed after a month as they lose their seal. Check out our Apiwraps in our store.
What can be frozen
So many things
Fresh fruit and vegetables. Just remember watery based fruit or veg are not the best for freezing (e.g. cucumbers) and they will not be the same once thawed, due to the loss of moisture. But depending on how you are going to use them, that may not be a problem (e.g if you are adding to a stew while frozen).
Meat of course. Fresh pork lasts up to 2 months, while beef, chicken and fish last 6 months.
Cooked meals, soups, sauces and gravy.
Herbs – I like to chop these and mix with a little water or with oil and place in ice cubes to make portions that can be placed into a freezer container once frozen.
Bread, cakes, biscuits. As bread is coming close to its use-by date, I make it into breadcrumbs and freeze, which is always handy to have one hand.
Always label your frozen food with the name of the food and the date it was placed in the freezer, to allow you to see if an item is too long frozen or not. Freezing is a great way to reduce waste, to have seasonal items out of season and to have a variety of foods available to your family to make healthy meals. Why not give it a go!
If you have any questions or have comments we would love to hear from you.
Have an earthly passionate time prepping,
Attracta & the early passion team.