We’ve been talking a bit over on the Attainable Sustainable Facebook page about how to store food in the freezer without using plastic containers. It’s a big stumbling block for people like me who want to preserve garden bounty (I freeze vegetables like green beans; their acid content is too low for water bath canning) or things like soup stock and premade meals without the health risks of plastic. Here are some options to consider:
Glass storage containers: This collection of Pyrex glass containers is on my wish list. These are oven safe, plus they’re good for both refrigerator and freezer storage and they have glass lids as well as plastic. I have some glass containers that I use for freezing, but they have plastic lids that are beginning to crack and I’m having a heck of a time finding replacements. Glass lids are so much more durable. If you are the parent of a baby and making your own baby food, rejoice! Check out these super cool freezer safe glass baby food storage containers. Alas, these aren’t exactly inexpensive options. Life Without Plastic has some great bpa-free storage options, but again, not cheap.
Glass jars: I freeze some things in glass canning jars. I’ve had some breakage, but honestly? I think that was my fault. I shouldn’t have used the narrow mouth jars with shoulders. When freezing in glass canning jars, you’ll want to use wide mouth jars that say specifically that they’re for canning or freezing and be sure to leave enough head space for expansion. I’ve also had good luck with recycling glass peanut butter jars. They’re straight sided and the glass is fairly thick. (And I’ll bet ole Laura Scudder is pretty happy right about now that she didn’t succumb to the plastic packaging craze.)
Recycled milk cartons and aseptic packaging: We’ve all filled a recycled half gallon milk carton with water to make ice blocks, right? Why not use them for freezing soups and stocks? If you buy broth or soup in aseptic packaging, you ought to be able to reuse those as well. Just make sure you have some freezer tape on hand to seal the containers.
Chinese take out containers: They serve food in them; I don’t see any reason they wouldn’t work for freezing. I haven’t yet tried this but now that I’ve thought of it, I’m excited to see how it works! I’m thinking this might be a really good way to freeze pizza dough, not to mention leftovers.
Freezer paper and foil: If you’re wrapping premade meals (think: burritos) or meats, these are a good option. If you don’t want the foil to touch the food directly (foil can react with certain foods), wrap first in a layer of wax paper. If you’re being especially careful to eliminate toxins, there’s a soy based wax paper available (regular wax paper is made with paraffin, which is a by-product of petroleum).
Muffin tins: If I want to freeze items in small portions, I’ll fill muffin tins and freeze them. Once frozen, I can pop them out and wrap in wax paper and foil.
Nature’s skin: This isn’t practical for most things, but you can stick some produce directly in the freezer without any sort of container. I’ve had luck doing this with tomatoes. Just toss them in a freezer safe bowl and voila! When you’re ready to use them in cooking, thaw them out and the skin slips right off. I’m told you can do the same with whole passion fruit.
I’d love to hear your suggestions, especially if you’re of a certain age and remember freezing before plastic – what did you use??