How To Freeze Casseroles...
I am still new to freezing casseroles so I am sure some other members could benefit from these tips also. I came across the following information in my 1977 edition of Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Casseroles cookbook. Since this book is so old I am sure that some of you can respond to anything that has changed. Thanks!
How To Freeze Casseroles:
Your freezer can be a big help to you in planning and preparing meals. First, it allows you to stock up on bargain-priced and in-season foods(freeze a batch of stew when stew meat is on sale, a zucchini casserole when zucchini is at its best). Second, it affords you the flexibility of making casseroles ahead(if you're serving one tonight, fix twice as much as you need and freeze the extra for that busy day when supper is the last thing you want to think about).
To prepare foods for freezing:
*Freeze most casseroles before baking, especially when all the ingredients are already cooked. Exceptions to this are dishes that contain uncooked rice, raw vegetables, or uncooked meat that has been frozen and thawed.
*Do not freeze mixtures containing hard-cooked egg whites, raw vegetables, mayonnaise, or sour cream.
*Undercook starchy ingredients such as beans, rice, and noodles, as they can become mushy when frozen. Potatoes become especially soft.
*Freeze casserole toppings separately to keep them from becoming soggy. Keep a supplly of plain or buttered crumbs in the freezer to use on frozen casseroles.
*Do not freeze baked pastry; add fresh or frozen unbaked pastry during reheating.
*Season foods lightly before freezing, then add more when reheating. Cloves, pepper, garlic, and celery become stronger on freezing; onion, salt, and chili powder weaken.
*Freeze casseroles either in quantities just right for your family or in individual servings.
*Chill hot casseroles rapidly. Set pan of hot food in ice water; cool to room temperature. Wrap, label, and freeze.
*When possible, use shallow baking dishes to speed freezing and thawing in casseroles.
*Allow some headspace to permit expansion of food.
*Cover casseroles with moisture-vaporproof material such as freezer paper, heavy foil, plastic wrap, or a tight-fitting lid. Fix tape around the edges to make a tight seal. Label contents, number of servings, and date of freezing.
*One handy way to freeze a casserole is to line the dish with heavy foil, leaving a long overhang; prepare casserole as directed. Seal foil over food; freeze. When frozen, remove wrapped casserole from dish. Label and store in the freezer. Reheat in the same casserole dish.
*Use frozen casseroles within 2-3 months for best quality.
*The size of the frozen casserole affects baking time. Shallow dishes and smaller quantities of food require less reheating time than deeper, larger casseroles.
*To reheat casserole without thawing, bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees till heated through, 1 to 2 hours for most casseroles.
*To thaw casserole before reheating; let it stand overnight in the refrigerator. Then, cook as directed in the recipe, baking an additional 15 to 30 minutes.
*If gravies or sauces separate on freezing, stirring may help return them to their original consistency.
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