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Since it takes so long to simmer stews to perfection, you might be wondering if you can double or triple the portions you're cooking so you can keep the rest in the freezer and make it worth the effort. But do chicken and beef stew freeze well? Is it okay to include the vegetables in the mixture? We've asked our favorite chefs regarding this and here's what they say.
You can freeze chicken and beef stews along with the vegetables. As long as you prepare and store them properly in the freezer, you will be able to keep these healthy and hearty dishes for up to 6 months in the freezer. They will retain their nutritional value and many even say that the flavor is more intense after reheating.
Hang on because we'll tell you how to prepare and store your beef and chicken stews so that they'll last in the freezer for months. We'll also share tips with you on how to defrost and reheat them properly so that you can serve and share this delectable dish with your family.
Can you freeze homemade chicken stew?
Chicken stew is one of those meals that's great to make ahead and put in the freezer. It'll save you the trouble of cooking during those busy weeknights. Plus, it's a nutritious meal that goes well with almost anything. Serve it with salad, bread, or crackers for a complete and satisfying meal.
Here's a tip if you're preparing it ahead of time. Make sure that it is completely cooked, but do not add a thickening agent such as flour or cornstarch. You can do this later on when you reheat it before serving.
Here are the steps for freezing your homemade chicken stew:
1. Wait for it to be completely cool before packing it.
2. Pour the contents into an airtight container. Leave about half an inch of space to give allowance for expansion while in cold storage.
3. You can also use heavy-duty gallon-sized freezer bags. These are more practical to use since they take up less space inside the freezer.
4. Label and freeze.
If you made a large batch of chicken stew, it's best to keep it in smaller portions. It'll be easier to thaw and reheat. It's also a way to avoid leftovers and end up wasting food.
Can you freeze beef stew with vegetables?
Beef stew is perfect to have in your freezer because it is a complete meal with meat and veggies. If you're cooking it ahead of time, it's best to use flour as a thickener because it freezes better than cornstarch. Or you can follow your favorite beef stew recipe but don't add any thickener yet and just do this later on when it's time to reheat it.
There are two ways to pack your beef stew for freezing. You can store everything together or you can separate different components of your dish such as the beef mixture and veggies.
To freeze, make sure that the beef stew has cooled down already before pouring the contents into an airtight container. Do not fill it up all the way to the brim. Leave some space on top to make way for its expansion once frozen. If you opt to separate the beef mixture from the vegetables, just store them in separate containers or freezer bags. Put a label on each of the packages before putting them inside the freezer.
How long does stew last in the freezer?
The good thing about stews is that you can make a large batch ahead of time and just store them in the freezer. This way, you can enjoy this savory dish anytime you want less the hassle. As long as you've done the necessary steps for their proper preparation and storage, they should last in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Do cooked carrots freeze well?
Cooked carrots do well in the freezer. If prepared and stored properly, they will be able to retain their nutritional value and flavor for up to 9 months in cold storage. However, you can expect some changes in their texture once they are thawed. They will become less firm and crisp but would still go great with your stews, soups, and other recipes since they're expected to be soft in these dishes.
To prepare carrots for freezing, it is important that they undergo a brief heat treatment to destroy the enzymes. You can steam or blanch them in boiling water briefly. Some prefer to cook their carrots by roasting while some mash them up or make them into a soup. All of these will do just fine in cold storage.
Here's how to freeze your cooked carrots:
1. Drain excess water.
2. Wait for them to cool down completely.
3. Place them in freezer-safe containers. You can also use zip-top bags as long as you press all the air out before sealing them tightly.
4. Put a label outside of the packaging.
How do you defrost chicken stew?
Thawing your chicken stew is the first step to get to enjoy it over again. There are three ways to go about this process. You can transfer your frozen stew to the fridge, use a warm water bath, or heat it on the stovetop.
Thawing in the fridge
This is the safest way to defrost your chicken stew since the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it might take 1 to 2 days before it is completely thawed. To do this, simply transfer your stew from the freezer to the fridge.
Thawing using the warm water bath method
This is a faster way to defrost your chicken stew. However, be advised that whatever you thaw using this method needs to be consumed immediately. Otherwise, there is a high risk for bacterial growth and food spoilage. Here's how to do it:
- Fill a bowl with warm water.
- Make sure that your frozen stew is in a sealed container so that water won't get inside.
- Submerge the stew in warm water.
- You can change the water after 30 minutes to make sure that it thaws continuously. Repeat until the stew is fully thawed.
Thawing using the stovetop
This is the quickest method to defrost your stew. It would still require you to do the warm water bath method in the beginning:
- Prepare a bowl of warm water.
- Put your stew in the bowl. Make sure that the container is completely sealed.
- Wait until the stew is partially thawed.
- Transfer the chicken stew into a pot.
- Place the pot on a stovetop.
- Cook the stew over low to medium heat.
- Stir continuously until the chicken stew is completely warm.
Can you cook beef stew from frozen?
If you don't have the time to thaw your beef stew, you can cook it directly from its frozen state. You can use the stovetop, oven, or microwave. However, expect the cooking time to be longer by about 50 percent or more.
How to reheat frozen beef stew?
This is the moment you've been waiting for. The reason why you froze your leftover beef stew in the first place. For you to be able to feast on its tender meat and scoop in its savory liquid, you've got to heat it again to remove it from its frozen state.
There are three ways to reheat your frozen beef stew. You can use the oven, the stovetop, or the microwave.
Using the oven
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Transfer your stew to an oven-safe dish.
- Add some broth or water to be sure that your stew will stay moist.
- Cover it loosely with aluminum foil.
- Place the dish at the center of the oven.
- Heat for 45 to 60 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also check about halfway through to stir the stew.
Using the stovetop
- Put your frozen beef stew into a pot.
- Place the pot on your stovetop.
- Cook on low heat to defrost it.
- Add some water or beef broth so that it won't dry out.
- Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes while stirring continuously.
- Stop when the meat is tender and you reach the right consistency. Do not overcook.
Using the microwave
- Transfer your stew into a microwave-safe dish.
- Cover the dish with wax paper. You can also use heatproof plastic wrap and then poke some small holes on it.
- Place the dish at the center of the microwave.
- Use the defrost setting or low heat to remove the ice crystals on your frozen stew. Check after a minute.
- Heat for 2 more minutes using medium to high setting but stop every 60 seconds to stir the mixture. This will ensure that your beef stew is completely warm.
Beef and chicken stews are the ideal make-ahead dish to keep in the freezer. This is a convenient way to enjoy this comfort food again. Just make sure you store them properly and you'll have a tasty and hearty dish to serve anytime.