Food & Recipes

This Easy Trick Helps Frozen Leftovers Defrost Faster — And Taste Better

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Freezing leftovers is a great way to get more bang for your buck. You can make ground meat last longer or whip up a huge batch of your favorite chili or soup to reheat for weeks at a time. But if your food always ends up with unsightly freezer burn and seems extra watery when heated back up — neither of which are particularly appetizing — chances are you’re freezing it in the wrong container. 

J. Kenji López-Alt, chef and food writer from Serious Eats, explains that exposure to air causes sublimation, more commonly known as freezer burn. “The two enemies of frozen food are air and time,” he says. Slowly freezing over time, on the other hand, can cause large ice crystals to form. These mess with the cell structure of the food and makes it watery. 

Thankfully, there’s a totally easy solution to make sure your meals don’t get all wet and mushy after chilling out in the freezer. Instead of using Tupperware or large containers, freeze your food flat in a plastic freezer bag ($10.49, Amazon). This makes the surface area larger, which in turn makes it both freeze and defrost faster and more evenly. When done carefully, it also decreases the amount of air that can get in and cause freezer burn.

Take a look at the video below to see López-Alt demonstrate how this works, plus some tips on freezing your food (like drippy soups) in bags without making a huge mess.  

Obviously, this doesn’t really help when it comes to freezing whole fruits and veggies (unless you feel like mashing them up). Don’t worry, though — you can buy already-frozen fruits and vegetables to skip that step entirely. Most of them are flash frozen at their peak ripeness, so they are just as healthy as fresh fruit and veg. 

Another perk of this freezing trick? The flat bags will free up more space and make keeping things organized so much easier. Win/win! 

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