We’re all looking for ways to keep as much plastic out of our homes as possible.
But, when it comes to freezing food, there’s often a trade-off between using plastic and keeping the food safe and free from freezer burn.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way! There are actually lots of ways that you can freeze food without having to use plastic and you don’t have to worry about the quality of the food being affected either.
If you’re trying to go as plastic-free as possible, you’ve come to the right place!
Below, we’ll take a look at how to freeze food without plastic. We’ll go through some of the best methods and we’ll also look at some of the reasons why you shouldn’t use plastic for freezing your food.
Why Plastic Should Not Be Used For Food Storage
Let’s start with the obvious reasons, first. We all know that plastic is bad and the more of it we use, the more damage we do to the environment.
This itself should be enough of a reason to stop using plastic for food storage, but there is another reason that you may not even realize.
Plastic is known for leaching certain chemicals into food, most commonly BPA (bisphenol A) and phthalates.
Each of these chemicals, in particular, are known to create a hormone imbalance in our bodies and this can result in several health issues including:
- Fertility Problems
- Reproductive Development Problems
- Heart Disease
Some studies on plastic have shown that when it is heated up, the amount of these harmful chemicals that leach into our food increases significantly.
It also increases when the food it comes into contact with is acidic, fatty, or salty.
These are all types of food that you might store in plastic when you freeze it and, even though the freezer stops time in its tracks for the food, these chemicals will still continue to leach into it while it sits in the deep freeze.
When you take the food out of the freezer to thaw, its temperature begins to increase and this is when even more of these toxic chemicals leach into it.
As we’ve mentioned previously, it’s not just the chemicals that you need to be concerned about with plastic food storage.
Most of the time when we need to freeze something, we tear off a piece of plastic wrap or grab a plastic bag. We then wrap it around the food and put it in the freezer.
When the time comes to thaw it, we’ll unwrap it and discard the plastic in our household waste.
This is known as “single-use plastic” and it is extremely damaging to the environment. It can’t be recycled or repurposed so, instead, it goes straight to landfill.
Best Plastic Alternatives for Food Storage
So, now you know exactly why you shouldn’t store your food in plastic. So, just how should you store it? Below, we’ll take a look at the best plastic alternatives for food storage.
Each of these is environmentally friendly, relatively inexpensive, and, most importantly, none of them contain any plastic!
Glass Food Storage
There’s a common misconception that you can’t put glass in the freezer because the low temperatures will cause it to shatter, but this isn’t true at all.
Most glass is absolutely fine to put in the freezer as long as it’s thick enough to withstand expansion.
The next time you finish a jar of pasta sauce or peanut butter that was stored in a thick glass jar, wash it thoroughly (preferably in the dishwasher so that it’s sterilized) and reuse it for food storage.
The added bonus here is that you don’t have to spend any money on expensive food storage containers, either!
However, if you’d prefer to buy new items or keep everything as uniform and organized as possible, ball canning jars are one of the best options for freezing.
They are thick enough to withstand expansion and they tend to have a large enough capacity to store pretty much anything.
Glass food storage containers are also a good option, particularly if you like to prepare your food on the weekend and freeze it to eat throughout the week.
The only thing you need to remember when you’re using glass food storage containers is that you shouldn’t fill them right to the top. There are two main reasons for this.
First of all, if your jars or containers have a plastic lid, it stops the food from coming into direct contact with it. Secondly, it leaves enough space inside the container for expansion.
Beeswax food wraps are another great alternative to plastic food storage. Unlike single-use plastic wrap, you’re able to reuse beeswax wraps as many times as you like.
It’s also perfectly safe to use in the freezer, however, you do need to be a little careful when you unwrap it as the wax inside does freeze.
Pulling too hard can cause it to crack so act with a little patience or simply let everything thaw together.
Some of the best beeswax food wrap brands include:
Another fantastic thing about beeswax wraps is that you’re able to cut them into size.
This means that if you only need a small piece, you don’t have to sacrifice an entire wrap. Simply snip a piece off, wrap up your food, and you’ll have loads leftover!
As with glass, many people don’t realize that stainless steel is perfectly freezer-safe. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about freezer burn or weird tastes being absorbed into your food.
And, as if that wasn’t enough of a reason to start using stainless steel to freeze your food, it can even help speed up the thawing process. This is because stainless steel retains heat.
So, fill a bowl with some hot water, place your stainless steel food container inside, and it’ll radiate the heat through your food!
They are also available in loads of different sizes.
Smaller stainless steel food storage containers are ideal for smaller ingredients or leftovers, while larger containers are perfect for freezing entire meals at once.
They also stack neatly inside your freezer.
One thing to be aware of with stainless steel containers, however, is that they can suffer from expansion. This can cause them to bend or warp out of shape under sub-zero temperatures.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to leave a bit of space between the food and the container’s lid.
This one might surprise you a bit as technically silicone is a kind of plastic.
However, it is incredibly tough so it’s not classified as a single-use plastic, and most silicone doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals either.
You do need to shop carefully though if you want to use silicone food storage containers. Do a little research and make sure that they don’t contain any of the following:
If there’s no sign of any of these, they’re safe to use.
They’ll also be considered as meeting the highest standards set out by U.S safety requirements and, even better, they’ll exceed the expectations of the super-strict EU safety standards.
Silicone comes with an extra advantage, too. Not only is it 100% safe to use in the freezer, but it can also be used in the microwave, dishwasher, and, in some cases, even the oven!
Ice Cube Trays / Muffin Tins
Sometimes you don’t need a huge food container as you’re only freezing something small. This could be a portion of baby food, some leftover pasta sauce, or even homemade bouillon cubes.
Ice cube trays and muffin tins are ideal for this. They’re also incredibly easy to use and you can fill them up and stick them straight in the freezer. It couldn’t be easier.
They also offer you the ability to practice portion control.
Rather than having to thaw an entire container of sauce and either feel as though you have to use it or throw it away, you’re able to pop as much as you need straight out of the tray.
Now, since the whole idea here is that you’re trying to freeze food without using plastic, you’re going to want ice cube trays or muffin tins that are made of something environmentally friendly.
Your best bet here is silicone or stainless steel. As we’ve explained above, each of these is much better than plastic and they won’t leach any nasty chemicals into your food.
If you search through the back of your kitchen cabinets, you’re almost guaranteed to find a roll of parchment paper that you didn’t even know was there.
This is ideal for freezing food in, however, it doesn’t have the longest freezer life.
Parchment paper will only last for a week or two when subjected to the low temperatures of your deep freeze.
However, if you know that you’ll be thawing something again within this time frame, it’s an excellent alternative to plastic.
You might be wondering how you’d seal it, though. The answer lies with freezer tape! This will create a strong bond, hold the paper in place, and help to create a freezer-proof seal.
Another fantastic thing about using parchment paper is that you don’t even have to throw it in your household waste once you’ve thawed it.
Instead, pop it on your compost heap or add it to your vermicomposter.
Finally, it is possible to use aluminum foil to freeze food. However, there are some important things you need to know before you do.
First of all, you need to make sure that every millimeter of the foil you’re using is intact when you wrap it around your food.
All it takes is for one tiny hole to form, and your food may suffer from freezer burn.
You should also use freezer tape to seal the aluminum foil once you’ve wrapped it around your food. Again, this will stop freezer burn from ruining it.
Finally, it’s important to remember that while aluminum foil is recyclable when clean, it cannot be recycled if there is any food stuck on it.
This isn’t too much of an issue if you’re wrapping bread, for example, but anything sticky or saucy means that you’ll have to throw it in your general waste once you’ve thawed it.
As you can see, there are many different ways of freezing food without plastic. The method you choose will ultimately depend on personal preference and each is useful for different things.
If you’re food-prepping or freezing entire meals, we’d recommend using glass or stainless steel storage containers.
However, if you’re only freezing small portions of food such as baby food, or you’re freezing a few leftover ingredients, beeswax wraps, ice cube trays, and silicone bags are the perfect solution.
Whichever method you choose, one thing is for sure – you’re on your way to leading a plastic-free life!