Have you been freezing your food in Ziploc bags for years and are now starting to wonder, “Is freezing food in a plastic bag safe?”
You can safely freeze food in a plastic bag, as long as you are using high-quality plastic bags that were made for freezing. To safeguard your frozen foods further, make sure to eliminate any excess air from the bag before sealing it up tight.
Not all plastic bags are created equal. As you are about to find out, some are more durable and self-sealing than others.
The Best Plastic Freezer Bags
There are many different types of plastic bags, but not all are intended for freezing food.
Plastic bags designed for simple food storage are a lot thinner than bags designed to freeze food. These plastic bags usually have twist ties or are meant to be folded over.
Genuine freezer bags are made from high-quality thick plastic and are reusable. They tend to be more expensive than other freezer bags.
Freezer-safe plastic bags lock with a zipper that seals to keep air out. This is important because it is the oxygen in the air that causes food to go bad while in the freezer.
However, some freezer bags on the market have an air-sealing zipper but are still made of cheaper plastic. To be sure that you are buying freezer bags made from fine quality plastic, go for a well-known brand such as Ziploc.
How To Store Food in Freezer Bags
The great thing about storing food in freezer bags is that you can use them to store either liquids or solids.
To store food in freezer bags, follow the steps below.
- Remove food from its original packaging.
- Place the food on a paper towel and then pat it dry using another paper towel to remove all moisture.
- Unseal the Ziploc bag that you intend to use.
- Place the food in the plastic bag and squeeze it to remove excess pockets of air.
- Smooth the packet you have made over with your hands, and then seal the Ziploc bag securely.
- Place the bag in the coldest part of your freezer.
Before you put any food in a plastic bag make sure that it does not have any rips or tears that could let cold freezer air inside. This is bound to dehydrate the food and cause freezer burn.
Can You Re-Use Ziploc Freezer Bags?
If you are reusing freezer bags make sure that it’s absolutely sanitary before using them again.
According to freezer bag manufacturer Ziploc the Ziploc Storage, Freezer, Snack, and Sandwich Bags are reusable by hand washing with soap and then thoroughly drying. Dry them by wedging them open and placing them on a dish rack, zipper side down. Freezer bags are not dishwasher safe!
However, if the freezer bags were used as storage for eggs, fish, or raw meat, you should throw them out after a single use.
Can You Reheat Food In Plastic Ziploc Bags?
Plastic Ziploc bags are not microwave-safe. The plastic will melt and mix with the food. The same happens with plastic wrap.
You can, however, thaw the food a bit while it’s still in the bag by placing the plastic freezer bag in a bowl of warm water. You’ll then want to transfer the food to a microwave-safe plastic container to heat or cook.
Ziploc does make a bag called Zip n’ Steam (Amazon) that can be placed in a steamer for thawing frozen food and reheating. However, it is probably not a good idea to use these pouches more than once.
Ziploc Bags vs. Plastic Containers
When it comes to freezing foods, Ziploc bags have a bit of an edge over plastic food containers because you can squeeze all of the air out of the top of the bag and then seal it tight.
By contrast, plastic containers, especially half-full ones, still have a lot of air inside, which contributes to food spoilage from air contact and freezer burn.
Plastic freezer bags also tend to take up a lot less room inside your freezer.
Freezing Food in Mason Jars
Using glass containers for storing frozen food can be problematic because the glass jar can potentially crack. This is because liquids from ice crystals expand, causing the rigid walls to fracture.
The other issue with mason and other glass jars is that even if you pack them with solid foods, such as broccoli florets, air remains trapped inside. It is this exposure to the air inside the jar that can cause microbes to grow and ice crystals to form.
Other Frozen Food Storage Methods
If you don’t have a proper plastic bag or freezer-safe plastic food containers, you can also use one of the following methods.
Freeze in The Package
Food packaging is what the food item itself comes in. However, most forms of manufactured food packaging are not fit for long-term freezer storage as they are usually not airtight enough.
Freezing in Butcher Paper
Fresh meat is usually wrapped in a brown, pink, or page paper called butcher paper. This type of food wrap is meant to keep food fresh in the refrigerator.
It is not airtight enough to just put it in the freezer as is. Your best course of action is to double protect it by keeping the meat in the butcher paper and then putting it inside a freezer bag or freezer-safe plastic container.
You can also vacuum seal any item that originally came in butcher paper before putting it in the freezer.
One trick, known as flash freezing, is to lay down freezer paper or parchment paper on a baking sheet and arrange the food loosely. Freeze it for several hours before finally packing it in a plastic bag.
Freezing in Plastic Wrap
Plastic wrap is too thin to keep your foods from oxygenating; therefore, spoiling in the freezer. However, pre-wrapping with plastic and then storing the food in a plastic bag is good protection against freezer burn.
Using Aluminum Foil As a Freezer Wrap
Aluminum foil is not a great choice for wrapping food. Even when very tightly sealed it will still allow air to penetrate your packaging. Ideally, foods that are wrapped in aluminum foil should then be further sealed in a plastic freezer bag for protection.
When it comes to storing frozen foods safely, it is the zipper-style of plastic freezer bag that is going to work best to preserve your food and prevent freezer burn. Plus, you can always give your foods a double layer of protection by wrapping them in any type of wrap and then storing them in the freezer bag.
Frozen food in a plastic freezer bag can generally be stored for 6 to 12 months, depending on the food item. However, you should always check any frozen food for signs of withering and dryness before eating, as that is a sign of bacterial contamination.
Is Freezing Food In Plastic Bags Safe – Conclusion
Generally speaking, using a high-quality plastic freezer bag is the safest and most convenient way to freeze your food. As an added bonus, food stored in a plastic zipper bag will also take up much less room in your freezer when compared to a hard-sided container.