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Freezing (food)

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Freezing is a common method of food preservation which slows both food decay and the growth of microorganisms and, by turning water to ice, makes water unavailable for bacterial growth and chemical reactions.

However, freezing only slows the deterioration of food; it does not stop it. And while it may stop the growth of micro-organisms, freezing does not necessarily kill those micro-organisms. Many enzyme reactions are only slowed by freezing, so it's often important to stop enzyme activity before freezing, either by blanching or by adding chemicals.

Foods may be preserved for several month by freezing, but not indefinately. Long-term freezing requires a constant temperature of -18C or less. Some freezers are not that cold, and many others are not kept at that temperature. If the temperature in a freezer fluctuates, the length of time foods can be kept is reduced considerably. Freezer doors should be kept closed as much as possible, and only a limited amount of unfrozen food should be added at one time.

Freezing adversely affects the texture of many foods, and the texture of nearly all foods is damaged by thawing and re-freezing.. Since water expands when it freezes, cell walls in food are often ruptured, resulting in food that is limp or pulpy when thawed. This is especially true of fruits and vegetables that have a high water content. Less damage is done to vegetables that are high in starch. Less damage is also done if the food is frozen quickly, so unfrozen food should be placed in the coldest areas, which are near the bottom of the freezer. Defects in the texture of thawed food can sometimes be obscured by cooking.

See also: Food preservation



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