Whatever you do, remember to label.

By Bridget Hallinan
March 25, 2020

If you have questions about freezing food, Ina Garten has some advice.

Since the coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of people to stay home, chefs have taken to social media to offer cooking tips and share recipe ideas. Massimo Bottura and Michael Symon are among those streaming online demos, and Ina Garten posted a picture of her own pantry last week, encouraging followers to stay safe and offering to come up with dishes based on what ingredients they had available. On Tuesday, she also shared some good practices for freezing food.

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Beneath a photo of her freezer that includes Talenti gelato, tortellini, and what looks like frozen blueberries, she lists her key tips on freezing and defrosting food. First, Garten recommends allowing food to cool to room temperature before packing it in containers—that is, you shouldn't put hot food right in the refrigerator or freezer, as it will lower the temperature of the space. (The danger zone for food is 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, because that’s the range where bacteria grows.)

She also suggests leaving extra space in the containers, since liquids expand when they freeze, and labeling each one with the name and the date it was frozen so you can easily identify them later.

Tip number four is to refrain from stacking containers until they’re frozen so that the contents freeze more quickly. And finally, for food safety purposes, Garten recommends defrosting food overnight in the refrigerator, as opposed to letting it sit out on the counter.

With these tips, you can efficiently (and safely) keep your freezer well-stocked. If you’re looking for ideas, here are several recipes that freeze well, so you can keep them on hand and defrost when needed. The roundup includes lasagna, slow-cooker classic beef stew, chicken pot pie, enchiladas, and meal components like tomato sauce and burger patties. 

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