You can freeze different types of food. And a wide range of containers are used during this freezing process. However, not all containers are suitable for a freezer. What are the best containers for freezing food?
Why do you need a freezer-safe container?
It is important to use a freezer-safe container if you want to:
- Preserve food with good quality for a long time in freezer.
- Keep food fresh and safe or prevent freezer burn. Freezer-safe containers used qualified materials, with airtight and leakproof can protect your food from damage.
- Be convenient: good food containers are usually microwave-safe that can help you to freeze and reheat the food quicker and simpler.
- Health protection: Using freezer safe containers may help to reduce health problems in the long run.
Why should you freeze your food?
Freezer is a necessary and friendly appliance to most families. It allows us to preserve food fresh, buy in bulk, cook meals ahead of time, and keep foods for later use. Here are the reasons why you should freeze your food:
- Money saving: You can buy local, in-season foods or fruits when they are most affordable and freshest, then put them in freezer for later use.
- Time saving: You can prepare and freeze different favorite meals with all kinds of ingredients as you wish when you have free time. Then, you can use the meals later when you are busy or less time.
- Easy planning: With foods available in freezer, you can quickly think of what to eat and make plan your your meals.
- Less food waste: For some leftovers like veggies, you can chop and freeze them and a couple of weeks later, put them back in casserole or soup. With wilted fruit, you can freeze it and add to smoothies later. Actually, you can save food.
- Early preparation: You can prepare the meals ahead of time. On weekdays, if you are busy with works and kids, you can cook some meals at weekends and put them in freezers, then reheat when needed.
- Eating out of season: If you want to keep the in-season fruits like fresh blackberries, strawberries, apples or even veggies and peas for longer or later use, freezer is the best place to keep them. However, you should freeze them properly to extend freshness and flavors.
Further reading: Best Small Freezers for Garage
Which container material should you put in the freezer?
When using a container to freeze food, it is necessary to make sure that it has to meet the following requirements:
- Free from moisture vapor
- Durable and not easy to crack when staying in low temperature for a long time
- Oil, grease, or waterproof
- Not absorption of other favors from other items in the freezer
- Convenient to seal and mark
You may also like: Best Food Storage Containers for Refrigerators
Some container materials safe for the freezer including:
- Reusable or organic plastic: This is better than any other commercial plastic bags. It is less likely to leak many harmful chemicals that affect the quality of food.
- Glass: Glass is safe for many types of food. But it is easy to break with improper storage.
- Aluminum: Aluminum containers are often used to freeze meat or other poultry.
- Tin: Tin container does not have any negative influence on your food when you keep it in the freezer. However, if you freeze too much liquid in a tin can, it tends to explode.
- Heavily waxed cardboard: It is quite good at moisture resistance. But this option is only ideal for short term food rather than any long term ones.
Plastic containers – Why are they so popular?
Is it safe to use plastic containers for storing food the freezer?
In the low temperature environment of freezer, plastic containers do not release chemicals that affect food and health. Therefore, using plastic containers for freezers is considered safe and not harmful to health. However, you need to make sure that plastic boxes are made of good materials, from trusted brand, to be safe to store in the freezer.
How many types of plastic are there?
Currently, plastic is divided into the following types:
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
This is considered one of the safest plastics, so you should use HDPE plastic containers for long-term food preservation. It is very durable, has good heat resistance and does not produce toxic substances.
PP plastic has good heat resistance and is chemically inert, so PP plastic containers are safe to use for food storage.
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)
It can withstand low temperatures, can be used in the freezer. However, at high temperatures, it can produce harmful substances, so you should not use PET plastic containers to store hot foods.
In addition, you should consider replacing the new plastic boxes after a period of time, to ensure health safety.
Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
This plastic has low toxicity, can be reused. However, because of its poor heat resistance, you should not use LDPE plastic containers to store food.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
This is an extremely dangerous plastic that contains lots of harmful substances such as BPA, a compound that has the potential to cause cancer.
Polystyrene or Styrofoam (PS)
It should not be used for long-term food storage because it can produce toxic substances.
They include polycarbonate, polylactide, acrylic, acrylonitrile butadiene, styrene, fiberglass, and nylon). The most of them are made of PC plastic which is very toxic. You should not use these plastic containers to preserve food.
In summary, plastics that can safely store food are:
- High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
- Polypropylene (PP)
- Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
How to properly use plastic containers for freezers
When using plastic containers to store food in the freezer, you need to keep the following recommendations:
- Buy the plastic boxes with good quality, from reliable brand: You need to choose plastic boxes made from safe materials of reputable brands to assure best quality.
- Do not use old plastic boxes or boxes with scratches: old plastic boxes are usually the ones that have been used for too long. Scratched plastic containers are easy to stick to food, difficult to clean, and easy for bacteria to grow. It’s better not to use them for health safety reason.
- Never put hot food right into plastic containers: Many types of plastic containers are often not resistant to high temperatures and can produce harmful chemicals. Therefore, you should not store hot food in plastic containers.
- Do not reuse single-use plastic containers: They are usually made from PS or synthetic plastic. When reused, it can produce many harmful substances such as BPA, phthalates, styrene, etc.
- Use warm (not hot) water to clean the box after use: Warm water is safely clean the plastic box, so you can rest assured to reuse it.
- Do not store foods with high acidity: Foods with high acidity can dissolve substances in plastic containers which can produce harmful substances if exposed to a highly acidic environment.
After using plastic boxes, you should also separate them from other materials like glass, paper, or plastic. This will greatly help the waste recycling process.
When to replace plastic containers?
You need a new plastic box in the following cases:
- When you see the lid of the box, or the rubber ring is lost or broken
- The box has a bad smell, or it is yellow
- Your plastic box is melted
Glass containers – Why are they the best for preserving food?
Benefits of using glass containers
Safe for health
It’s best to use glass containers for storing food as they are non-toxic when containing a variety of foods. Glass is a natural material that is inert and non-porous. The glass food containers never leak and are very safe for using both in freezer for a long time, almost unlimited.
Glass containers are durable as they can hardly be broken or deformed, scratched… They can also be safely reused, washed in the dishwasher, or put in microwave.
Withstand high temperatures
Glass can stay safe at different temperatures, so you can store food and heat it in the same container. Glass boxes can be used both in the freezer and microwave. Moreover, you can serve food in the same glass food container that has been preserved and heated.
Besides, you can store hot food in glass containers, do not have to wait until the food cool down. Heating food in glass containers is also safe because harmful substances do not release.
Do not absorb odors
This is an interesting characteristic of glass. While other containers such as plastic can
absorbs flavors and odors from food that can stick around very long, glass containers do not.
This special feature makes glass food storage containers perfect for storing all kinds of foods, including acidic foods such as lemon, vinegar, sour, spicy, etc.
In addition, the surface of glass containers is glossy so they can keep food clean, fresh, and delicious for longer.
How to choose a glass container for freezer?
The internal temperature of a freezer is always very low, normally about -18oC (or 0-degree F). Therefore, you should use good heat-resistant glass containers to preserve fresh food. This type of glass is heated to 1,000 degrees, when cooled slowly, it does not create compression inside the glass box. So, it does not cause the glass box to be cracked or broken. These glass containers are made of Borosilicate heat-resistant material, so they can withstand very low temperatures. If you use normal glass, when left in the freezer for a long time, they will easily crack and break.
Notes when using glass containers
- Glass is fragile. When broken, it can injure children. You should be careful and avoid breaking them.
- When storing liquid like soup, porridge, …., glass boxes with rubber seals can be helpful in preventing the liquid from overflowing or spilling out. Moreover, this seal will keep the food container airtight, do not let the air in to cause damage to your food.
- When reheating food, remember to open the valve so that the air in the glass box can escape, to avoid high pressure in the box that may cause swelling, cracking and explosion.
- After using, you need to wash the glass box, dry it, and open the lid to remove the steam and smell that may accumulate.
- As for the refrigerator, the temperature is lower than that of the freezer, so you can use regular glass containers.
What to look for when buying a container for freezing food?
Glass and BPA-free plastic are the best materials for freezer containers. However, they both have pros and cons for customers to considers.
Glass freezer containers are transparent, so they have a stylish look. They are also odorless, durable and friendly to environment, but they are heavier and more expensive than plastic containers.
Plastic freezer containers are also durable but tend to be scratched easily. They are lighter and cheaper than the glass ones but some of them are not safe for microwave. To safe for health in the long term, you should choose the BPA-free plastics.
Size and shape
Different sizes that range from mini, small, medium and big containers are available for your choice, such as 1.2 Oz, 3 Oz, 6 Oz, 9 Oz, 10.1 Oz, 18.6 Oz, 28.4 Oz, 33.8 Oz, 37 Oz, and 47 Oz or even bigger.
The most common shapes are round and square, but the containers having the straight edges will help you to save much room.
Most best freezer containers have airtight lids because they can protect your food longer and ensure a proper freezing process. Airtight lids ensure leak-proof that can allow you to store liquids in freezers.
What are the best containers for freezing food?
Foil, plastic or paper wrap
Foil, plastic or paper wrap is suitable to store many solid pieces such as meat, fish, breads, and meatloaves.
These bags can be used for different types of food both solid and liquid in various sizes. Ziploc freezer bags would help you to save much space for short-term items.
Non-BPA plastic boxes
Non-BPA plastic boxes are cheap and light but they are easy to deteriorate over time, so you should not use them for any long-term food.
Glass jars or Glass containers
With glass material, glass jars are safe for many kinds of food in your house. But they can be broken easily if you are not careful.
Vacuum sealer is the best option for freezing food except for the high price. It is suitable to store food for any extended period of time.
Further reading: Which is the Best Vacuum Sealer to Keep Food Fresh?
Aluminum pans along with lids is a disposable option for any household to keep food in the freezer. It also does not take a lot of time to assemble these aluminum pans.
You may also like: The 5 Best Frozen Meals for Your Health
How to freeze food in a container?
Even when you pick up suitable containers, you should notice some following factors:
- Make sure that there is no air left inside the container: If your container is not free of air, it is more likely for your food to get freezer burn.
- Do not fill any container with food. That is because your food needs enough space to expand so if you put too much food inside, it can cause some explosions, thus breaking your container.
- Give your items an initial freeze on a tray before transferring them into many containers to keep in the freezer. You can place your items on a cookie or baking tray to freeze them overnight. Then, you should divide them into many other containers for a longer freeze.
- Label your container with the storage date. Each type of food should be stored in the freezer for an equivalent period of time. Therefore, this label can help you to avoid freezing food overdue.
- Blanch or partially cook some kinds of food like potatoes before freezing them. This can help you to maintain the quality of your food once thawed.
Further reading: What Are the Best Cheap Freezers for Home?
What container material should never be put in the freezer?
- Any BPA plastic
- Soft cloth
How to know whether a container is freezer safe?
As mentioned above, if you want to know whether your container is suitable for the freezer, you should check some following features:
- Material safe for type of food you would like to freeze
- Have no crack
- Durable and not easy to be brittle in low temperatures
- Tight lids to avoid any odors from other surrounding foods
- Not leak any toxic chemicals into your food
What can I use instead of freezer bags?
In case you do not have any freezer bags, you can still get other options such as:
- Glass or stainless steel boxes or jars
- Different kinds of food-safe wrap
Are Tupperware containers freezer safe?
Basically, you can use Tupperware containers to freeze your food. This type of material is very light and free of BPA so it does not harm your food. However, you should identify whether your containers have a snowflake symbol or not, if not, this Tupperware container is not suitable for the usage of the freezer.
Can Ziploc containers go in the freezer?
You do not have many troubles when using Ziploc containers to freeze your food. This option is safe to use in the freezer. Additionally, Ziploc containers are very convenient because they do not take up much space and would be easy to maintain your food.
To make the process of freezing smoother, many containers are used to maintain the best quality of all frozen items. You should make sure the containers you would like to have meet requirements such as free of moisture, resistant to all liquid, hard to crack, and not absorb any other smell.
Depending on which food you want to freeze, you can choose the best option among wrap, Ziploc bags, non-BPA plastic boxes, glass jars, aluminum pans and vacuum sealer.
- The Best Types of Packaging for Freezing Food, Jessica Fisher, Aug. 2020
- Food Freezing Basics: Packaging, Loading the Freezer and Refreezing, Julie Garden-Robinson, Nov. 2017