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Prairie Fare: Gear Up for the Freezing Season With This Quiz

Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist
If you preserve your fruits, vegetables and other foods properly, you will be able to enjoy high-quality foods this winter.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

I noticed a chill in the air when I stepped outside on a recent morning to admire my flowering plants. I went back inside to grab a light jacket. As I zipped my jacket, I could sense the approach of autumn in the crisp morning air. I’m not ready for autumn just yet.

Soon we will be covering our outdoor plants with blankets to preserve them for a while before the ground freezes. Eventually a blanket of snow will cover our plants. I looked over my garden to see if I would be freezing any vegetables before the outdoors becomes a walk-in freezer.

Freezing is an easy method to preserve foods. If you preserve your fruits, vegetables and other foods properly, you will be able to enjoy high-quality foods this winter. How much do you know about freezing food? Try this quiz.

(1. At what temperature should your freezer be kept? a. 0 degrees Fahrenheit b. 32 degrees Fahrenheit c. 20 degrees Fahrenheit

(2. True or false: Bacteria are not destroyed at freezer temperature.

(3. You discovered that your frozen meat has dry, brownish areas. What is that called?

(4. About how much food should you place in a freezer per cubic foot of storage space? a. 2 or 3 pounds b. 5 or 6 pounds c. 8 or 9 pounds

(5. True or false: You can refreeze foods if they still contain ice crystals or are still cold (at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower).

(6. What is the name of the heating process recommended for most vegetables prior to freezing?

(7. True or false: The nutrient content of fruits and vegetables is best retained when the foods are preserved as soon after harvest as possible.

These are the answers to the quiz.

(1. a. Your freezer should be kept at a temperature of zero degrees or lower. In fact, you may want to lower the thermostat in your freezer to minus 10 degrees for a couple of days prior to adding unfrozen foods.

(2. True. Although microorganisms, such as bacteria, do not grow at freezer temperature, they survive and can grow after thawing. That’s why food should be thawed in the refrigerator.

(3. “Freezer burn” can result from improperly packaged frozen foods. Although it is not harmful to eat freezer-burned food, you probably will not enjoy the flavor of the food.

(4. a. About 2 or 3 pounds of food per cubic foot of storage space will allow food to freeze quickly. Overloading a freezer slows down the freezing rate and can lead to quality loss.

(5. True. If your power goes out, keep the following information in mind: Food in a closed, fully loaded freezer will stay cold for two days, while food in a closed freezer that is less than half full will not stay cold longer than one day. Keep the freezer door closed. Use dry ice if available to keep foods cold. For a freezer that is half full, place dry ice on boards or heavy cardboard on top of packages, and open the freezer only when necessary. Do not handle dry ice with your bare hands.

(6. Blanching is the name given to the process in which vegetables are heated in boiling water or steam for a short time. This process slows or stops the action of enzymes that can lead to color or flavor changes in frozen foods. Be sure to follow the recommended blanching times. Overblanching can result in loss of vitamins and minerals, while underblanching can stimulate the action of enzymes leading to quality changes.

(7. True. If you are harvesting from a garden or preserving food from a farmers market, be ready to freeze the food quickly so you maintain the nutritional value and quality.

How did you do on the quiz? If you are preparing to freeze foods of any kind, remember to choose durable, moisture/vapor-proof packaging that is meant for freezing food. Your packaging materials should be easy to fill and seal. Be sure to label your containers with the contents and date.

For more information about food preservation, including freezing fruits, vegetables, meat and other foods, plus canning vegetables and making a wide variety of jellies and jams, visit

Browned ground beef is an ingredient in many casseroles, so here’s a way to simplify your meal preparation and preserve the quality of the meat. This information is provided by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association on behalf of The Beef Checkoff, along with the University of Nebraska-Lancaster County.

Make Ahead Frozen Beef Crumbles

1 pound lean beef

1 medium onion (optional)

Brown lean ground beef (and onion, if desired) in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for eight to 10 minutes or until beef is not pink. Break the beef into 3/4-inch crumbles. Avoid using iron or aluminum cooking utensils, which can speed flavor changes. Do not add salt during the cooking process because salt can promote flavor changes during frozen storage. Drain the fat and remove the beef from the pan with a slotted spoon. Cool and refrigerate beef crumbles in shallow containers, then transfer the cooled beef to freezer bags. Be sure to use freezer bags that are made of thicker plastic, which will keep the food fresh longer. Label and date the packages with the amount of beef and the number of servings, press out the air and seal tightly. Flatten the packages and freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. After the meat is frozen, stack the packages. Use within three months for best flavor and quality.

Note: Some spices, such as rosemary, marjoram, thyme and allspice, have antioxidant properties and can help preserve the flavor of the meat. If desired, add one of these spices during the cooking process.

A 3-ounce serving of ground beef crumbles made from 90 percent lean beef has 196 calories, 10 grams (g) of fat, 24 g of protein and 0 g of carbohydrate.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication – Aug. 18, 2011

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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