Can I Freeze It?: How to Use the Most Versatile Appliance in Your Kitchen


What kitchen appliance is a busy home cook's greatest friend?

Believe it or not, it's the freezer. Freezers seriously simplify meal preparation--you can plan ahead, save time, and shop economically, yet still serve fresh, flavorful suppers. Freezers are great for those dark winter months when you want to have dinner on the table fifteen minutes after you get home from work--think lasagna, stews, and soups--and they are also useful for ...

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Can I Freeze It?

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What kitchen appliance is a busy home cook's greatest friend?

Believe it or not, it's the freezer. Freezers seriously simplify meal preparation--you can plan ahead, save time, and shop economically, yet still serve fresh, flavorful suppers. Freezers are great for those dark winter months when you want to have dinner on the table fifteen minutes after you get home from work--think lasagna, stews, and soups--and they are also useful for entertaining friends when time is short.

In Can I Freeze it? veteran food writer and stylist Susie Theodorou explains the tips, tricks, and rules of freezing food, from containers and wrappers (foil or Tupperware?) to the best methods for retaining moisture and flavor to what ingredients and dishes can and can't be frozen. She provides a wealth of recipes, along with color photographs, for whole and partial dishes. Some are completely preassembled (for example, chicken in a marinade), frozen, and cooked later. Others combine frozen ingredients with fresh ones--pair a pastry from the freezer with berries from a farm stand, or defrost a sauce and use it to top fish straight from the market.

The recipes include everything from meat and fish to pizza and veggies, plus desserts. Many dishes can be served two ways. For example, prepare classic Bolognese sauce and serve some of it for dinner over pasta. Freeze the rest and use it later to make meat and potato pie. In addition, there is a chapter on cooking for a crowd in which Susie shares her best recipes for entertaining large groups of family and friends. Serve lamb ragu ravioli with rosemary brown butter, Mexican chickpea stew with green salsa, or hearty lasagna--your guests will never know you prepared most of the meal in advance, making dinner parties a breeze! And be sure to save room for decadent desserts, including homes favorites such as Chocolate Chunk Cookies as well as showstoppers like Layered Coconut Cake.

With Can I Freeze It? flavorful, healthful, hot meals are ready in minutes, without turning to takeout. It's the ultimate guide to saving time and money in the kitchen.

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Editorial Reviews

The State (Columbia))
"Shows you how to make the most out of your freezer."
Lygeia Grace
“Susie Theodorou walks you through every step of the way to making delicious, satisfying food that you can enjoy on the spot or freeze for later with crowd-pleasing results.”
The State (Columbia
“Shows you how to make the most out of your freezer.”
Frances Boswell - Food Director of Real SimpleFrances Boswell
“Susie’s recipes are both practical and inspired.”
Florida Times Union
“[A] clever field guide to freezing that will keep you eating well without breaking the budget.”
“This guide is stocked with every piece of below-zero info you’ve ever wondered about: what foods you should never freeze, thawing times and delicious make-ahead recipes.”
Miami Herald
“A good resource for cooks. . . . A lot of very practical information. . . . Sections on how to choose which foods to freeze, techniques for freezing and thawing, and hints for maintaining and organizing a freezer are extremely useful and logically presented.”
Washington Post
“Beginning cooks, as well as those who have racked up multiple freezer-burn casualties, will appreciate the food writer and stylist’s practical knowledge, which comes with gentle do’s, don’ts, how-tos and how-longs.”
Frances Boswell
“Susie’s recipes are both practical and inspired.”
The State (Columbia)
"Shows you how to make the most out of your freezer."
Library Journal
This unusual cookbook offers both practical information on freezing food and a selection of appealing recipes. A food stylist and food writer, Theodorou begins with "Perfect Freezing Every Time," which includes tips on everything from choosing a freezer to containers to organization. The recipe chapters include "Raw Freeze" (dishes that can be prepared ahead for cooking or finishing later, such as Chicken Stir-Fry in Ginger-Sesame Marinade), "Cook Once, Eat Twice," and "Cooking for a Crowd," as well as separate sections on pastries and sweets. Theodorou's book would have been even better with more recipes and/or variations because some of the recipe sections seem frustratingly brief. Recommended for most collections. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061802461
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 738,877
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Susie Theodorou is a freelance food writer and stylist, and the author of Coffee and Bites. She has worked for numerous publications in both the United States and the United Kingdom, including Gourmet, Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple, Food & Wine, Waitrose Food Illustrated, and Fortnum & Mason. She is a regular contributor to Australia's Donna Hay magazine.

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Read an Excerpt

Can I Freeze It?

How to Use the Most Versatile Appliance in Your Kitchen
By Susie Theodorou

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Susie Theodorou
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060797027

Chapter One

Perfect Freezing Every Time

How freezing works

Freezing preserves food by slowing down the growth of the microorganisms that cause decay. It does not kill microorganisms; but to grow they require water, and if the water within the cells of the food has been turned into ice, that means it is unavailable for bacterial growth and chemical reactions.

In order to achieve proper freezing and prevention of decay, a constant temperature of 0°F/-18°C or less is required. Some freezers cannot achieve or are not kept at that temperature. If the temperature in the freezer fluctuates, the length of time foods can be kept is reduced considerably. In order to help maintain the lowest possible temperature, keep freezer doors closed as much as possible, add small quantities of unfrozen food at a time, and make sure that all prepared food has cooled to room temperature before it is placed in the freezer.

The faster food is frozen, the better, as fast freezing creates smaller ice crystals. Food that is frozen slowly develops large ice crystals that can pierce the cell walls, possibly causing a compromise in the flavor and texture of many foods.

Always place unfrozen food in the coldest part of the freezer until solid, then organize the freezer asappropriate, with foods that are to be stored the longest kept in the coldest parts at the back, and foods that will be used quickly kept close to the front or on top.

Many freezers have a "fast-freeze" switch, which lowers the temperature to enable food to be frozen more quickly. Once the food is solid, turn off the fast-freeze switch. Other models have a thermostat dial so you can turn the dial to its lowest temperature setting while the food is freezing and then once the food is frozen solid, return the dial to the original setting. Don't forget to do so, as these dials may also control the temperature within the refrigerator.

Last, a word on what happens when freezing goes wrong. The telltale sign of freezer burn is a frosty, gray appearance on the surface of the food; freezer burn can cause the prepared food to taste spoiled and tough. This happens when air dries out the surface of the food as it is in the freezer. It can easily be prevented by wrapping the foods tightly with the correct materials.

Freezing tips and techniques

When freezing food, make sure you leave plenty of clear space around each container or package you are freezing to allow the air to flow around the unfrozen food and freeze the food quickly and evenly. After the packages are frozen, stack them more efficiently.

Foods frozen in smaller quantities will freeze faster than foods frozen in larger quantities, helping to prevent a buildup of large ice crystals.

Use shallow containers with a wide surface area relative to depth. This will enable food to freeze quickly all the way through. If using plastic freezer bags for meats, vegetables, sauces, or soups, seal them well, then place them flat on a chilled baking sheet until frozen solid. Again, a wide surface area will aid in the formation of tiny ice crystals and will also make for faster thawing.

It is important to cool food completely to room temperature before freezing. Placing hot foods in the freezer will raise its temperature, slowing down the freezing time and possibly thawing other foods, and the centers of the foods may not freeze quickly enough to prevent spoilage.

To make sure that foods such as uncooked meatballs, ground meat patties, dumplings, ravioli, cookies, profiteroles, meringues, and individual cakes retain their shapes and remain separate upon freezing, use the open-freeze or dry-freeze method to freeze food quickly on all sides. Place a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or plastic wrap in the freezer and chill for 10 to 20 minutes. Place the food in a single layer on the lined baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between the pieces, and freeze for about 1 hour or until solid. Then pack in plastic freezer bags, vacuum-sealed bags, or airtight freezer-safe plastic containers and return to the freezer. Be sure to mark the packages or containers with their contents and the date.


Choose packaging materials that will protect the food's flavor, color, moisture content, and nutritional value from the dry climate of the freezer. Containers should:

  • Not become brittle and crack at low temperatures. Look for the freezer symbol, often a snowflake, to indicate that it is freezer safe.
  • Be durable, leakproof, and easy to seal and mark.
  • Be oil, grease, and water resistant (no uncoated paper containers).
  • Protect against absorption of outside flavors and odors.

Glass and Ceramic: If using glass containers, choose dual-purpose types that are designed for freezing and also are heatproof. Pyrex and Simax are brands made from boro silicate glass, which cannot go from freezer to hot oven immediately--the dish must stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, as the sudden heat change may cause it to break. Dishes with tempered glass such as Anchor Hocking and Duralex must be completely thawed before placing in a hot oven. If you're using glass jars to freeze sauces, soups, or stocks, be sure to leave at least a 3⁄4- to 1-inch space at the top, as the water in the recipe will expand and may cause the glass to break if filled too high.

There are also many brands of freezer-to-oven-to-table ceramic dishes, such as CorningWare. These are especially good for baked pastas and casseroles, as they can be placed in the oven straight from the freezer, and then brought to the table. Be sure they are suitable for freezer use.

Plastic: Make sure the containers close tightly and securely and are made of plastic that will not become brittle at a low temperature; look for the snowflake symbol on brands such as Sistema, Klip It, or Lock & Lock. All three have a clipping system . . .


Excerpted from Can I Freeze It? by Susie Theodorou Copyright © 2007 by Susie Theodorou. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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