How do I? ...General Freezing Information

General Freezing Information

Containers for Freezing

Foods for your freezer must have proper packaging materials to protect their flavor, color, moisture content and nutritive value from the dry climate of the freezer. The selection of containers depends on the type of food to be frozen, personal preference and types that are readily available. Do not freeze fruits and vegetables in containers with a capacity over one-half gallon. Foods in larger containers freeze too slowly to result in a satisfactory product. In general, packaging materials must have certain characteristics:

  • Moisture vapor resistant
  • Durable and leakproof
  • Not become brittle and crack at low temperatures
  • Resistant to oil, grease or water
  • Protect foods from absorption of off flavors or odors
  • Easy to seal
  • Easy to mark

There are two types of packaging materials for home use: rigid containers and flexible bags or wrappings.

Rigid Containers

Rigid containers made of plastic or glass are suitable for all packs and are especially good for liquid packs. Straight sides on rigid containers make the frozen food much easier to get out. Rigid containers are often reuseable and make the stacking of foods in the freezer easier. Cardboard cartons for cottage cheese, ice cream and milk are not sufficiently moisture vapor resistant to be suitable for long term freezer storage, unless they are lined with a freezer bag or wrap.

Regular glass jars break easily at freezer temperatures. If using glass jars, choose wide mouth dual purpose jars made for freezing and canning. These jars have been tempered to withstand extremes in temperatures. The wide mouth allows easy removal of partially thawed foods. If standard canning jars (those with narrow mouths) are used for freezing, leave extra headspace to allow for expansion of foods during freezing. Expansion of the liquid could cause the jars to break at the neck. Some foods will need to be thawed completely before removal from the jar.

Covers for rigid containers should fit tightly. If they do not, reinforce the seal with freezer tape. Freezer tape is especially designed to stick at freezing temperatures.

Flexible Bags or Wrappings

Flexible freezer bags and moisture-vapor resistant wrapping materials such as plastic freezer wrap, freezer paper and heavy-weight aluminum foil are suitable for dry packed products with little or no liquid. Bags and wraps work well for foods with irregular shapes. Bags can also be used for liquid packs.

Plastic freezer bags are available in a variety of sizes. There are two types of closures. One type is twisted at the top, folded over and wrapped with twist ties included in the package. The other is zipped or pressed to seal a plastic channel. Regardless of type, press to remove as much air as possible before closing.

This document was extracted from "So Easy to Preserve", 5th ed. 2006. Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens. Revised by Elizabeth L. Andress. Ph.D. and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., Extension Foods Specialists.

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