Seven billion containers. That is the estimated amount of aluminum foil produced each year. This versatile, insulation product arose in 1903 in France.
Following its creation, it quickly began to be used for room-temperature food storage.
Tobler, the creator of the massive Toblerone Chocolate Bars, was the first recorded company to utilize it for this purpose.
In the present day, it is used extensively for cooking and grilling a myriad of foods. However, the question remains — can you freeze food in aluminum foil?
Aluminum foil is a fantastic and safe way to conserve most food items for up to a year in the freezer. However, it is important that you do not use this product directly with highly acidic food types. This can lead to adverse reactions in these items as well as the degradation of the foil over time.
This, in turn, will lead to spoilage. Moreover, it is also imperative that when using this method of food preservation that it is only applied after the food has had ample time to properly cool. Otherwise, you may find it hard to remove the foil once defrosted and the aluminum can leach into the food.
Top Methods For Conserving Food
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “food-grade materials, such as aluminum foil, heavy freezer-weight plastic bags, heavy plastic wrap, and parchment or freezer paper are excellent choices” for preserving foods in the freezer. Interestingly enough though, if you plan to store food in the freezer for extended periods of time, they advise that consumers use heavy-duty aluminum foil along with one of the other aforementioned methods. Why is this?
The Aluminum Association has determined that not only will this material block out light, but it will also serve as a barrier against moisture, oxygen, and even bacteria.
This is imperative for keeping food fresh and preventing spoilage prior to the “Best Buy” freezer date. Moreover, it is the reason why the foods wrapped in foil are less likely to incur freezer burn.
Additionally, aluminum foil, sometimes referred to as tin foil, can handle extreme temperatures.
This applies to both ends of the spectrum. This allows for use in both the oven and the freezer.
However, it is imperative that you make sure to only utilize heavy-duty aluminum foil for freezer storage as the regular varieties will not have the same conversation effect. They also tend to stick to the food and break away during the thawing process.
Another fantastic way to store your food is with the use of a vacuum sealer. This method will help to limit bacteria growth by removing the instance of moisture and oxygen from the environment.
However, unlike aluminum foil, it will not block out the light. This can lead to chemical reactions over time that could cause discoloration of the food items being stored.
Despite this fact, vacuum sealing is the recommended method for individuals who like to buy in bulk or meal prep. It is a simple way of packaging individually prepared portions for long-term use.
Freezer wrap is a material that is specifically designed to cling tightly to food. This aids in keeping air and moisture out as well as preventing freezer burn.
Just like the vacuum seal bags, this variety will let in light. However, it is a great alternative to aluminum foil when it comes to freezing meat.
Freezer Safe Ziplock Bags & Pyrex Containers
Just like the vacuum seal, ziplock bags, Pyrex and other glass containers can help to limit moisture and protect against freezer burn.
However, unlike the alternative techniques, these containers will not fully keep out oxygen or light.
This can lead to a higher instance of bacteria growth if the conditions are right. Nevertheless, these containers are preferred over aluminum foil when storing items like fruit, tomatoes, and fish when a vacuum sealer is not available.
Cover All Your Bases
Always use the recommended storage application for the food type that you intend to freeze. In addition, it is best to use multiple of these food storage tools simultaneously. This will increase the longevity of this food when frozen.
This is where aluminum foil shines. Once placed in the alternative storage containers, tightly wrap them in a secondary layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
This will better limit the oxygen and light exposure. Additionally, always label your food items with the initial date of freezer storage.
How To Properly Freeze Food In Aluminum Foil?
Patience Is A Virtue
No matter if you are using aluminum foil as your only method of storage or as the initial covering before using a freezer-safe ziplock bag, there is one step that is imperative to take prior to cold storage prep.
You must allow the food to cool. Otherwise, you risk some of the aluminum leaching into the food.
While the amounts are usually minimal, studies do show that “aluminum contents can represent a risk for younger/smaller children and for individuals with diagnosed certain ailments”.
This research also found that this occurred most often when certain food types were directly touching the aluminum during the cooking process.
If you were to wrap up hot items in the foil directly after cooking, a similar process can occur.
The action essentially traps in the heat. This will activate the same type of reaction. It is also important to remember that this material is highly reactive with low pH foods. What this means is that leaching is much more likely with these food types.
Furthermore, when skipping this step, you also run the risk of bacteria growing in your food.
Not the food that you are freezing at that moment, but the food that was already frozen.
By placing hot foods in the freezer, you raise the temperature of the food surrounding them. Thus, err on the side of caution and be patient.
Implement Proper Cooling Techniques Before You Freeze Food In Aluminum Foil
The easiest way to cool your food is on the countertop. However, this is only safe if the window of time does not exceed two hours.
If you pass this mark, dangerous bacteria can begin to grow. The other alternative is to transfer the items onto a plate and place them in the fridge.
Once they have had time cool, then you will be good to wrap up your foods in your Reynold’s Wrap! Then, keep it in the fridge until you are ready to transfer the leftovers to the freezer.
Aluminum foil is the optimal method for certain types of meat like raw chicken and hamburger meat, vegetables, bread, and pre-made dishes, like quiche.
However, certain highly acid foods like prepared fruits, certain cheeses, and tomatoes are not suitable options for this storage technique.
Instead, use parchment or freezer paper first. Then, apply the aluminum foil. Not only will this limit the light and oxygen, but it will avoid any unwanted reactions.
Why To Freeze Food With Aluminum Foil?
Not only will the aluminum foil allow your food to remain in its original state for longer, but when it comes time to use those food items, reheating is simple!
This is why it is the perfect storage tool for most leftovers.
Additionally, for larger family meals, aluminum foil pans and tin foil containers are the perfect apparatus to store pre-made dinners.
In fact, this is usually what the ever popular Stouffer’s Lasagna is packed in! Just make sure to also cover these cooking bins in aluminum foil prior to freezing.
Then, place the frozen, aluminum-wrapped items or the aluminum pan directly on a cookie sheet and bake them. This helps to limit dishes, in turn, saving you money on your water bill.
How To Properly Thaw Frozen Food Wrapped In Aluminum Foil?
The frozen foods that cannot be put directly in the oven or on the grill need to be pulled out of freezer storage one to two days before use. Next, place them in the fridge to slowly defrost.
Then, gently peel away small sections of the foil that do not adhere to the food. This can help to expedite the process.
Additionally, for those who want to further speed up the process, put the frozen, aluminum-wrapped food in a sealable plastic bag.
Then, place the bag in a bowl of cool water on the counter. Again, remember that this needs to be for less than two hours in order for the food to remain safe to eat.
According to the Washington Post, as of this year, “the carbon footprint of food waste is greater than that of the airline industry”.
While plastic may seem like the biggest culprit, aluminum foil is actually worse for the environment.
However, both aluminum foil and plastic wrap are effective tools for food storage that have individually valuable attributes.
Most notably, when used to converse the right food types, it can extend their shelf life and prevent the instance of food waste. Everyone should want to limit their carbon footprint.
You can easily accomplish this by storing your food properly. Use what you purchase in a timely manner. Moreover, freeze what you cannot consume.
Lastly, don’t overbuy. Moreover, if you are using aluminum foil as a secondary or tertiary means of food conservation, remember the slogan from our nation’s first Earth Day. “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”.
Lastly, this cooking and storage tool also has a myriad of other uses. Use leftover pieces to scrub your dishes and cast iron and lessen your craft project messes!
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.