How to cool and prepare my recipes for conservation “meal prep”…..

I separate each type of preparation
As I have already explained, I prefer to keep each part separately (basis) of the recipe as:

    • creams and sauces, I prepare them separately by breaking down my preparations or, if the recipe does not allow it, I separate them from the other ingredients when I put them in the fridge or freezer. This method avoids unpleasant alterations of the flavors and leaves me the possibility to choose at the last minute how to compose my dishes
    • cereals or pasta in broth, I freeze them separately from their broth to avoid losing their original consistency. If cereal pastes are preserved with their broth when they are regenerated they can overcook, the same fate could be suffered by any vegetables immersed in the broth. Therefore I keep, especially in the freezer, broth, vegetables, and cereals or pasta in 3 separate containers. I reunite them when I regenerate.
    • vegetables, I prefer to simmer or simply burn, so once regenerated they will remain very al dente. I characterize them just before tasting them or combining them with the rest of the recipe.
    • legumes, freeze them separately from their cooking water. I avoid to overcook them and with the cooking water I stock up on “aquafaba”.

Cool down completely every element of my recipes before placing them in the refrigerator or freezer

Raw or cooked foods should not remain at room temperature more than 15-20 minutes, dangerous temperatures are those:

above 5 ° C in the refrigerator
less than 60 ° C of cooking.

Now there are blast chillers also for domestic use (that is a household appliance that allows the temperature to be lowered very quickly, so as to preserve all the characteristics of the product in an optimal way),  but not everyone has the economic potential and the space to add this appliance to the kitchen. The alternative, used long ago also by the chefs, is the cooling in bain-marie with ice, water and salt. It seems to have been scientifically proven that coarse cooking salt lowers the freezing point of water a lot, lowering the temperature in a short time of the bain-marie.

Not to leave at room temperature the foods more than 20 minutes, I organize myself like this:

♦  I prepare the containers or bags, which I will use to store in the refrigerator or freezer, writing on each the date of packaging and the contents.

  I stock up on ice (I use the transparent bags for ice cubes that are on the market). For bain-marie cooling the proportions must be:

same weight of water and ice and about 1/5 of the weight of coarse salt

For example: 500 g of ice + 500 ml of water + 100 g of coarse salt.

  Put the mixture of water, ice and salt in a bowl large enough to hold other smaller containers.

  When cooking is finished, I immediately remove the food from the hot pan and pour it into containers at room temperature, which I will introduce in the water bath with water, ice and salt. To speed up the cooling, I divide the preparations into several containers.


♦  I fill half the containers that contain the food to be cooled, in this way the bain-marie will completely immerse the food, but not the container (which must remain open to prevent condensation from forming in the container during cooling) I do not want the mixture of water, salt and ice come into contact with food(which must remain open to prevent condensation from forming in the container during cooling) I do not want the mixture of water, salt and ice to come into contact with the food.

♦   When the foods, placed to cool, are at room temperature towards the containers that I will use to keep them in the refrigerator or freezer, dividing them into portions that will be consumed completely at once. When frozen foods increase in volume, it is advisable not to fill the bag or container more than 2/3.

What materials and precautions to use to preserve recipes or individual foods:

    • PVC transparent films cannot be used to store fatty foods, such as cheese or sliced meat, PE films are preferable. There are also cotton films treated with oils or beeswax: they can be used both in the refrigerator and in the freezer but not at temperatures above 30 ° C, and are guaranteed for a minimum of 100 uses, they are washed in cold water and soap … ecological of course.
    • Aluminum foils should not be used to store acidic foods (such as citrus fruits or tomatoes) or salted ones.
    • The greaseproof paper is suitable for both the refrigerator and the freezer. It can be used to store food, such as meat, cheese or fresh pasta. Especially if we freeze them and want to create a layer between them to prevent them from sticking together. There is a more ecological version of baking paper: it is used in the same way but it is not bleached and is free of silicone.
    • The most suitable materials to contain food to be frozen are plastic, glass, aluminum and polyethylene (the latter being the material used to make the frost bags). The frost bags must be closed using the special strap or a rubber band. The food containers must be closed with their lid.

If you want to read or re-read previous posts and recipes on mine “meal prep”:

MEAL PREP 1: Cosa serve al nostro corpo Which foods should always compose our own dishes Refrigerator and freezer are up when you have little time?
MEAL PREP 2: Organization of the weekly menu APP What do I cook
MEAL PREP 3: How to prepare, season and cook food correctly

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