best way to freeze baked pasta?
I want to freeze the delicious leftovers of my baked pasta (kind of a spin on lasagna). What would be the best wrapping and sealing method? Can I just wrap portion-sized wedges in plastic wrap, then in foil, then in freezer Ziplocs? I would rather not buy those little foil containers that people use, but I want to make sure my packets stay air-tight.
To reheat, do I just thaw starting in the morning? I will have to reheat in the oven as we don't have a microwave.
I'm new to this whole freeze-for-later routine, but I see it changing my life for the better. I always make HUGE portions and we tire of it, no matter how good it tastes, by the fourth day. So-- I'm starting to stock up the freezer with goodies for the evenings when I don't want to pull off a culinary miracle, but don't want to give in to take-out either :)
I'm a chronic freezer. Believe me, it's a lifesaver some nights. With baked pasta or lasagna I portion it out either in quart or gallon freezer bags, squeeze as much air out as humanly possible (you can suck out the air with a straw too but I'm lazy and I don't own any straws), then I wrap in heavy duty foil or freezer paper.
I've found that defrosting in the fridge before reheating makes pasta super mushy. Best to go straight into the oven or microwave.
I always make more lasagna than we eat at one sitting and portion it out, wrap each piece in foil and put it in the freezer. I then take them out an put them right into the microwave to reheat.
Freezing in individual portions is just fine (and on those days when you just can't bring yourself to cook, they almost do seem like culinary miracles ;).
When I freeze dishes like this, I skip the plastic wrap- just foil around individual portions, then into a freezer bag with the air squeezed out as much as possible. (and a LABEL on the freezer bag- trust me, I've made this mistake :)
If I'm baking them from frozen, I just open the foil packets but leave them in their wrapping to avoid a messy baking sheet. They can cook straight from frozen, but if I can remember, I take whatever I need out in the morning so they thaw a little in the fridge before an evening meal. Makes things go a little faster.
Or, you can unwrap them from the foil and microwave them. Thawing is ideal but not necessary. I tend to just let it go full blast until the middle is hot, but you could microwave-thaw and then heat.
Jfood is approaching the onset of fall and winter and that means one thing, start filling the freezer with easy meals for those cold winter nights. Two years ago he purchased a food-saver. it has been fantastic. Make a large lasagne and cut into eight portion sizes, place in a bag, suck all the air out and into the freezer. Likewise with braises (that's a new fancy word for stew) sauces, meatballs, sausage and peppers, on and on. And the best parts are, absolutely no freezer burn, and when i want to re-heat, place a bag in a pot of boiling water, set the timer for 25 minutes and spend some time with the family. Cut it open and a perfect meal every time.
First buy it at Costco, great price.
Several schools of thought on how to freeze "wet" stuff. lasagne and the like absolutely cold. Easy to place in the bag. Likewise jfood has found that you cut it into individual portions and then add a littl sauce on top before sealing.
braises/sauces - just tried a new technique and jfood thinks he stumbled on something. he hated when the bag sealer started sucking and some of the sauce came out and made a little mess. Now he fills the bags and places them unsealed in the freezer for 1-2 hours . Be careful they do not fall over or you'll have a lot of swear words and a mess. He then takes them back to the kitchen and seals the bags. Since the liquid is now somewhat if not totally frozen, the seepage does not occur.
Rocco Despirito mentioned something on Top Chef when he was a guest a few weeks ago in passing and jfood thought it was a great idea and has tried it and it works really well. When you are about to fill the bag, fold the opening over on itself and then fill. Then before you seal you undo the fold-over.You will now have a clean surface for the sealer to seal. Jfood used that along with his freeze before seal method and the seals look perfect.
I love my foodsaver. It's really good for a small household. You can make a big batch of something and you don't get tired of it finishing it up. One thing the foodsaver directions say is to freeze food before sealing it so it doesn't aspirate into the workings of the machine. [Or you can use things like mason jars that have a special attachment.] I put the food in the bag (using the foldover technique jfood mentioned) then stick it in the freezer to freeze. I usually put a big paperclip on the top just to keep it shut until frozen. Then seal. Someone on the board also had a fantastic tip recently about freezing sauces and things like that flat in cheap bags, then once they're frozen putting them in a big foodsaver bag to seal. Then just take out as needed and keep resealing the big bag. I'm going to try that. Have fun with your machine. It has a million uses.