Vision Quest Freezer Preparation

Wholesome food stored constantly at 0 degress F will always be safe. Only the quality suffers with lengthy freezer storage. Freezing preserves food for extended periods because it prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause both food spoilage and foodborne illness. Once thawed, however, these microbes can again become active, multiplying under the right conditions to levels that can lead to foodborne illness. Since they will then grow at about the same rate as microorganisms on fresh food, handle thawed items as you would any perishable. Trichina and other parasites can be destroyed by sub-zero freezing temperatures. However, very strict government-supervised conditions must be met. It is not recommended to rely on home freezing to destroy trichina. Thorough cooking will destroy all parasites.

The freezing process itself does not destroy nutrients. In meat and poultry and products, there is little change in nutrient value during freezer storage.

Freezer burn does not make food unsafe, merely dry in spots. It appears as grayish-brown leathery spots and is caused by air reaching the surface of the food. Cut freezer-burned portions away either before or after cooking the food. Heavily freezer-burned foods may have to be discarded for quality reasons.

Color changes can occur in forzen foods. The bright red color of meat as purchased usually turns dark or pale brown depending on its variety. This may be due to lack of exygen, freezer burn, or abnormally long storage.

Freeze food as quickly as possible to maintain its quality. Slow freezing creates large, disruptive ice crystals. During thawing, they damage the cells and cause meat to "drip" or lose juiciness. Ideally, food 2 inches thick should freeze completely in about two hours. If your home freezer has a "quick-freeze" shelf, se it. Never stack packages to be frozen. Instead, spread them out in one layer on the shelves, stacking them only after frozen solid.

If a refrigerator freezing compartment can't maintain 0 degrees F, or if the door is opened frequently, use it only for short-term food storage. Eat those foods as soon as possible for best quality. Use a free standing freezer set a 0 degrees F or below for long-term storage of frozen foods. Keep a thermometer in your freezing compartment or freezer to check the temperature.

Pretreating: Fish are categorized as either fat or lean fish by the amount of fat in their flesh. Fat fish include varieties such as mullet, mackerel, trout, tuna, and salmon. Lean fish include flounder, cod, whiting, redfish, croaker, snapper, grouper, sheepshead, and most freshwater fish (walleye, perch, bass). Before freezing, fish can be pretreated to improve quality of the stored fish. Fatty fish should be dipped for 20 seconds in an ascorbic acid solution made from 2 tablespoons ascorbic acid to 1 quart of cold water to control rancidity and flavor change. Lean fish may be dipped for 20 seconds on a brine of 1/4 cup salt to 1 quart of cold water to firn the fish and decrease drip loss on thawing. Fish Roe: Thoroughly wash and package in freezer containers or bags and boxes, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Seal and freeze.

Never defrost foods in a garage, basement, car, plastic garbage bag, out on the kitchen counter, outdoors or on the porch. These mothods can leave your foods unsafe to eat. There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. It's best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. Small items may defrost overnight; most foods require a day or two. For faster defrosting, place food in a leak-proof plastic bag and immerse it in cold water. (if the bag leaks, bacteria from the air or surronding environment could be introduced into the food. Tissues can also absorb water like a sponge, resulting in a watery product.) Check the water frequently to be sure it stays cold. Change the water every 30 minutes. After thawing, refrigerate the food until ready to use. When microwaving-defrosting food, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving.

Option #1

For best results, place rinsed filets in quality freezer bags or freezer containers. Larger filets may be cut into smaller pieces. Place enough water in container to cover fish entirely. ***It is a good idea to place enough fish into one container to constitute usual serving. Place bags in freezer.

Good Idea: keep 1/2 gal and 1 gal. milk of juice containers and rinse well. The tops can be cut off and the balance of the container used for placing water and fish in. These store-stack well once froze and you can write on them in permanent magic marker.

***If possible mark date on container***
***Fish frozen this way will last up to 18 months***

Option #2

Rinse filets and dry with paper towels. Wrap filets in saran wrap or aluminum foil. Make sure there are no exposed areas and fish is wrapped thoroughly. It is a good idea to wrap twice. Mark date on wrapper and place in freezer.

***Fish frozen this way will last up to 6 months***
***Freeze this way only if fish are going to be consumed in a short time period***

Option #3

Purchase a quality vacuum sealer and quality bags. Vacuum seal fish in the bags. Sometimes you ay have to add a section of paper towel in the bag to absorb excess moisture which will ensure that the bag end seals properly.

Fish can be stored up to one year with this method but MUST be sealed airtight. If NOT, you will end up with a freezer burned fillet.

Post Catch Handling Procedures

1. Place fish on ice IMMEDIATELY after catch.
2. Filet fish as soon as possible
3. Rinse filets off thoroughly before bagging.
4. Once fish are bagged, keep on ice until home. Keep fish out of water.