7 Ways to Freeze Food Without Plastic
Freezing food is a great way to reduce food waste and create a zero waste kitchen. But what if you’re trying to freeze food without plastic? Is it even possible?
It actually is, and it’s not as complicated as you might think. We’ll take a look at why you shouldn’t use plastic for food storage and how to freeze food without plastic.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Plastic for Food Storage
Many people automatically reach for plastic bags, plastic wrap, and plastic containers when they need to freeze food. While these items certainly seem convenient, they come with several big problems.
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Plastic is known for leaching chemicals directly into the food we eat. Two of the biggest offenders are bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. Both chemicals are known hormone disruptors that can lead to fertility problems, harm reproductive development, and cause higher rates of diabetes and heart disease.
Studies have shown that heating food in plastic can increase the amount of chemicals leached, which is one reason why it’s so important for our kids to use plastic free baby bottles and plastic free sippy cups. Leaching also increases when plastic touches acidic, fatty, or salty foods.
Unfortunately, new studies are also showing that leaching doesn’t just occur when food is heated in plastic. It can also happen when food simply sits in plastic.
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Plus, it’s not just toxic chemicals you have to worry about when you store food in plastic. You can typically only use plastic wrap once, and then you have to throw it away. Even plastic bags and plastic containers won’t last forever. They’re all impossible to recycle, so they end up piled up in the landfill.
When you combine all of these issues, it quickly becomes apparent how important it is to reduce plastic use and start switching to eco-friendly alternatives to plastic.
Glass storage containers are a popular option for safely storing food without using plastic, but a lot of people think you can’t freeze glass. However, it actually does just fine in the freezer. The trick is to use thick glass that can stand up to expansion.
The next time you get pickles, nut butter, or pasta sauce in a thick jar, simply wash it out and reuse it to freeze food without plastic. This is an awesome way to go zero waste on a budget and get the jars you need for food storage.
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If you need new jars, Ball canning jars are often thick enough to withstand freezing.
If you’re freezing liquids, such as soups, stews, broths, or sauces, you also want to leave at least an inch of space at the top to give the contents room to expand.
You can also freeze food in glass storage containers. It’s often hard to find glass storage containers that don’t use plastic lids. We use these glass storage containers and just make sure we don’t fill them to the top.
This serves two purposes. First, it ensures our food doesn’t come into contact with the plastic lid. Second, like the glass jars, it leaves enough space in the container for expansion.
You can even use these glass baby food storage containers to safely freeze any purees or baby food that you make.
Related: Best Plastic Free Essentials for Your Baby
2. Beeswax Food Wrap
Beeswax food wrap is an outstanding alternative to single-use plastic wrap. If you’ve never tried it before, here’s a helpful guide on everything you need to know about beeswax food wrap.
Once you’re ready to pick up some reusable food wrap, you can take a look at this list of the best beeswax wraps or check out these brands I’ve tried before and really like:
- Etee Beeswax Food Wrap
- Vegan Reusable Food Wrap
- Bee’s Wrap Assorted Set
- Abeego Plastic-Free Food Wrap
- Khala Variety Pack
You can also pick up reusable food wrap bags that make the perfect replacement to plastic food storage bags.
Plus, if you like to DIY, you can even make your own DIY beeswax food wrap at home.
You can freeze beeswax food wrap for up to a month. When you do take it out of the freezer, just make sure you unwrap it slowly. The wax in the wrap does freeze, and pulling on it too hard can cause it to crack.
Related: How to Make Your Beeswax Food Wrap Last Longer
3. Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is an excellent option for freezing food without plastic. You can stick the stainless steel containers directly in the freezer, and you don’t have to worry about freezer burn or strange tastes on your food.
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Plus, you can simply stick the stainless steel container in warm water to quickly thaw your food.
If you’re freezing leftovers or smaller items, these stainless steel food storage containers are what we use in our home. Not only are they great for freezing food, but I also use them to pack my son’s zero waste lunch and we use them as part of our zero waste travel kit.
If you need to freeze larger items, like pieces of meat or fruits and vegetables you harvest from your garden, I recommend this large stainless steel airtight freezer storage container, which is ideal for storing and stacking.
Although stainless steel won’t break like glass, expanding food can put pressure on the metal and cause it to bulge or warp. So it’s always a good idea to leave some space at the top.
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Silicone food storage bags are another fantastic alternative to plastic food storage bags. There are a lot of silicone food storage bags on the market, but I prefer Stasher bags because they’re a quality company and they make bags I can trust.
All of their bags are made from 100% non-toxic pure platinum silicone that contains no BPA, BPS, lead, latex, or phthalates. This is a standard that’s higher than food-grade silicone, and passes all U.S. safety requirements and the even stricter European safety standards.
Related: Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic Use
Plus, not only are their bags freezer safe, but you can also use them in the oven, microwave, dishwasher, and even a sous vide machine!
If you’re just starting your silicone bag collection, this set of 4 is an excellent option because it comes with 2 sandwich bags, 1 snack bag, and 1 half-gallon bag. Plus, if you plan on freezing large items or soups, you’ll definitely want to get either the large stand up bag or the mega stand up bag.
Related: The Best Reusable Sandwich Bags for Zero Waste Lunches
Since Stasher bags can get a little pricey, consider buying them from EarthHero and using the code EARTHFRIENDLY to take 10% off your order! Not only will you save some money, but you’ll also be shopping with one of the best online zero waste shops.
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, these reusable food storage bags are a fantastic option. They come in a variety of sizes, and they’re very affordable.
In addition to the variety pack, you can also get them in a stand-up style and a gallon size, which are both great for freezing food.
Related: The Best Reusable Paper Towels to Reduce Waste
5. Ice Cube Trays/Muffin Tins
Are you trying to freeze smaller items like portioned baby food, purees, pastes, sauces, or homemade bouillon cubes? Then freeze them in either a muffin tin or an ice cube tray.
You can either leave your food in the trays, or, once they’re frozen, you can pop them out and stick them in another container or wrap for long-term storage.
Related: The Best Non-Toxic Muffin Pans to Keep Your Food Safe to Eat
Of course, since the whole point is to freeze food without plastic, don’t use those flimsy plastic ice cube trays. Instead, go with either silicone ice cube trays or stainless steel ice cube trays. You can also get a silicone baby food freezer tray that helps you make perfectly portioned homemade baby food.
If you decide to use a muffin tin, make sure it’s non-toxic bakeware so it doesn’t leach dangerous chemicals into your food.
6. Parchment Paper
If you’ll be freezing an item for only a week or two, you can use parchment paper. Just make sure you get compostable parchment paper that’s unbleached and chlorine free. You’ll also want to use freezer tape to seal your paper.
Then, when you take your item out of the freezer, you can simply compost your parchment paper.
7. Aluminum Foil
It is possible to freeze your food with aluminum foil, but it does come with a few warnings.
First, you must make sure you’re careful when you’re wrapping the foil around the items you want to freeze. One hole in the foil can cause freezer burn on your food.
Once again, you’ll want to use freezer tape to make sure your items are sealed up well inside the foil.
Second, it’s important to keep in mind that aluminum foil can’t be recycled if it has food stuck on it. So in a pinch, aluminum foil is an option for freezing food without plastic. However, if you’re looking for a good zero waste option, you’ll likely want to choose one of the other methods instead.
How to Freeze Food Without Plastic
Even though our freezers are often filled with plastic bags and plastic wrap, it’s possible to freeze food without plastic. Thanks to these awesome ideas, you can enjoy all of the advantages of freezing your food without any of the dangers or drawbacks of plastic.
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