Do you make more chili than you can eat before it goes bad? Or maybe your garden is yielding more vegetables than you can handle. With a little preparation, you can freeze chili or any vegetable stew to enjoy later without sacrificing taste or texture. But do you know the best way on how to freeze chili?
What You’ll Need To Freeze Chili
Fresh ingredients are important for tasting great in the finished product, but how you store them makes all the difference too. Use clean glass containers with airtight lids instead of plastic bags and aluminum foil. No flavor transfers occur between different products inside the freezer. You may also want to use wide-top containers so they defrost quickly, reducing cooking time when preparing them at a later date.
Label everything with either masking tape and a permanent marker or by typing out content on an external word processor and attaching it with tape. Here are the basic steps to how to freeze chili.
How To Freeze Chili The Right Way
Once the chili is fully cooked, cool completely then divide into desired portions inside your freezer-safe glass containers. Try not to exceed more than 1 inch from the top as soups and stews expand during freezing and may cause container failure. Fill any excess space with crushed ice or freezer packs so there’s no room for air bubbles and seal tightly with a lid before placing in the freezer. Place labeled bags flat on a tray until solidified through and store them like this for ease of stackability.
Frozen chili will remain good for up to 3 months, but how long it can stay depends on how you stored it and how your freezer operates. If the door stays open too often, foods won’t retain their quality for long. Store chili in a corner or along a wall furthest from where the door opens and seals air inside better than walls that don’t.
It’s also best to keep chili at 0°F or lower so bacteria doesn’t start growing which lowers shelf life. Plus, how to defrost chili properly is important. Slowly thaw in the fridge overnight, then cook thoroughly before serving again for maximum flavor retention safety.
How To Freeze Chili The Right Way-Making Thick Paste
Garden fresh vegetables are the best, but how to freeze vegetables isn’t always easy. Here’s how long they can stay frozen and how to defrost them for easier cooking later on. So let’s get started; once you’ve made your delicious pot of chili (with meat and beans and veggies and spices and broth), how do you freeze it?
Let’s say your chili has been simmering for a while. You’ve just put in the last of the ingredients, mixed them up, let it all cook together for a few minutes. Now you’re ready to serve it. So how do you get it from this pot into separate serving sizes so that every person gets some nice piping hot chili in their bowl or plate? There are two ways to go about this:
- Put the pot on the stovetop over high heat until everything comes to a boil. Pour in a shallow pan and stick in the freezer. Wait an hour and scoop out with an ice cream scooper.
- Bring chili to a boil, how slowly over low heat while stirring regularly. Pour into wide flat containers and stick in the freezer and wait an hour. Break up frozen chunks with a spoon while they’re still in the container. No matter how gentle you are about it, there will be some mushiness that remains. Not so appetizing if you were hoping for that nice crunchy texture of fresh chili on top of your nachos.
If your chili is flavorful enough, these methods might work for some people. But here’s how to do it better than this so you can enjoy your pot of chili whenever the craving strikes. This can also help to make the flavors and textures of your chili come through even when it’s been frozen solid.
How To Freeze Chili The Right Way- Ice cubes
First, let’s get rid of these ‘ice cubes’ and mushy chunks of ideas. I’m not talking about what should have been done here, how to avoid it moving forward. So how do you freeze chili so that it tastes how you want it to taste?
Freezing anything brings down the temperature of its molecules causing them to slow down or come together to reach equilibrium again. This also happens with liquids contained within solids (like how water will freeze inside of a solid block of ice once it reaches 32 degrees Fahrenheit).
So how do we control the way our chili acts when frozen? By choosing how fast or slow to bring them together. When you simmer your pot of chili on the stove, you have total control. The longer they’re allowed to come together and bond with each other, the more ‘solid’ your chili becomes.
If you want to make a big batch for later without adding too much thickness from all those ingredients, make sure to do it as quickly as possible. The molecules will only have a brief time to bond with each other. This will cause a very small, thin layer of ‘solidness’ within the liquid.
If you want big chunks of solid stuff from your chili (like beans and meat) make sure not to bring it to a boil as quickly or for as long. You can impart some thickness by how long you cook things on the stovetop before moving into the final stage. The less you interfere with how fast these molecules come together, the more dense your chili will be when frozen.
So how do we freeze it? When most people think of freezing something they picture how ice cubes are made. Start with your liquid and put it into a shallow pan (to allow for faster freezing) and pop it in the freezer. The hard part is how to get rid of those clumps that happen when something freezes like this? You end up with chunks or ‘ice cubes’ if you will, but how do you get these out without touching them?
Making Smooth Paste Chili
When we make ice cream we don’t want to disturb the crystals forming within, so it must be done very quickly and carefully. When we make chili we want our molecules to come together quickly and regularly, but how do we get these big chunky pieces out without disturbing their neighbors too much? The only way would be to take advantage of how water molecules are all stuck together with how fast they freeze in order to do this for you.
If the layer of chili is very thin or small, then it will freeze faster on top than at the bottom. Pull your container out of the freezer every few minutes and give it a good stir with a spoon until crystals begin forming around the edges. Once there’s some size to these crystals, you know that they’ll be larger when allowed to thaw out later. You can now put your container back in the freezer without disrupting how quickly things are freezing within.
All these kinds of steps will bring you the perfect type of chili you want. Be creative.