How To Freeze Chili

Chili is a dish that has become a staple in many homes. This spicy stew contains meat, tomatoes, beans, and any other ingredients you wish for extra flavor. There are other seasonings that can be altered to suit one's taste. There are vegetarian versions of chili, too. This comfort food can be made in large batches. You may what to know how to freeze it for later. Well, we popped around several expert kitchens and got some secrets on how to freeze this dish.

Freezing the chili well requires you to take some time to achieve this. This guarantees that when you defrost, it'll still be tasty. The following steps will help you freeze chili well:

  • Let the chili cool.
  • Prepare containers or bags for storage.
  • Seal and label containers and bags properly.
  • Create space in your freezer.
  • Place the chili in the freezer.

It's simple. But that's not all though! Continue reading as we explore each step in detail. Let's see what exactly is required for excellent results.


Freezing Chili

Food can be frozen properly for later. You can freeze both meat and vegetarian chili. These two can be frozen in the same manner. What should we know before we put the chili in the freezer? These steps will help you freeze your chili wonderfully.

Cool the chili

Food should never be frozen when piping hot. Food safety requires food to sit at room temperature for at least an hour (not more) before freezing. Your food will have cooled enough within an hour. Leaving the food for longer will give room for bacteria to start growing.

Put the chili in a shallow dish and spread it. This will help it cool faster. Remember, chili contains beef. Beef can't stay on the kitchen countertop long after it has been cooked. Keep the food uncovered for it to cool faster. This ensures the condensed moisture doesn't drop back in the pan.

Classic Southwestern Chili in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven with Corn Bread and Cheddar Cheese

Prepare containers and Bags

To store the chili in the freezer, you'll need containers and bags meant for the freezer. Glass and PET containers that are meant for freezing are the best. They need to be sterilized and dry before putting in the chili. Take containers with proper fitting lids. The lids should be fitting to avoid freezer burn and the chili absorbing other odors.

Ziploc bags are another alternative for storing chili. These bags come in different sizes. Pick the ones that will fit in a sizeable portion. Don't fill the Ziploc bag to the brim. Leave enough space at the top for squeezing out excess air.

This will give the bag a vacuum seal. Use bigger Ziploc bags to get space for removing air. Whether you are putting the chili in containers or bags, portion it. This is the best way to keep all your frozen chili fresh for longer periods. You only take the amount necessary.

Seal and label Containers and bags

Ensure that all your containers and Ziploc bags are sealed very well. Cold air shouldn't come in contact with your food. This will spoil the chili. Label Ziploc bags and containers that you use for storing chili in the freezer. Label them clearly to avoid confusion about when you put them in the freezer.

Note: Ziploc bags can hold any liquids in your chili very well. Store your food in fresh bags. Don't wash and reuse freezer bags. Discard any Ziploc bags after each use.

Create space in the freezer

Set your freezer to the lowest temperature before you put the chili. The temperature should be below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. A thermometer will help you keep an eye on the temperature. Place the Ziploc bags flat in the freezer. The containers can also be placed or spaced out well in the freezer.

The freezer shouldn't be overcrowded. Whether a chest freezer or a compartment in the fridge, ensure the door is rarely opened. Fluctuating temperatures can make the chili go bad. If you want the chili to stay frozen well, don't open the freezer door often.

Put the chili in the freezer

It is not advisable to handle your food for long. The longer the food stays at room temperature, the sooner bacteria start multiplying. This could lead to food poisoning. Once the freezer temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, put your chili to freeze. The cold temperature in the freezer should be stable.

Do you let chili cool before freezing?

Delicious homemade beef chili con carne with green onion garnish.

Yes, you must! As we have seen in the steps on how to freeze chili, it is advisable to let chili cool prior to freezing. If you don't, you'll put the rest of the food already in the freezer at risk.

The cool air circulating in the freezer will become warm. This will tamper with the temperature in the freezer. Spread the chili in a wide dish and let it cool for an hour before putting it in the freezer.

Can I leave chili out overnight to cool?

No, you can't! Any food that has been left out overnight needs to be thrown out. This food is dangerous. Bacteria will multiply quickly at room temperature. Different types of bacteria cause different illnesses. You can heat the food to kill the bacteria, but the toxins will remain.

Can I cook chili from frozen?

Yes! This is absolutely possible. Simply take the chili from the freezer and put it (container or Ziploc bag) in a hot bath. You could also use a cold bath. Food will take longer to defrost in a cold bath.

When the chili detaches itself from the container, put it in a saucepan immediately. Ensure that you cook the raw chili till it's well cooked. Prepped chili needs to be reheated thoroughly as well.

How do you reheat frozen chili?

There are two ways to reheat chili. First, thaw the chili. The quickest way is by using the microwave. Use the microwave to reheat the food as well. Put the container in the microwave with a cup of water or a damp towel for moisture. Remember to remove the lid!

A more dependable way to reheat your chili is by using the stove. Set your stove on low heat. Put the frozen chili in a pot. Cover your pot to keep moisture in. When the chili has thawed, turn the heat to medium. This is to ensure that the food is thoroughly heated.

Make sure you always use microwave safe dishes. Don't put Ziploc bags in the microwave!

Vegetarian chili con carne with lentils, beans, lime, jalapeno. Mexican traditional dish

Crock-pots can even be used to reheat food. Use them to keep your chili hot before serving. Crock-pots can keep food warm or hot for up to 2 hours.

How long will defrosted chili last in the fridge?

Experts recommend eating any food immediately, once it has been thawed. If you thawed your chili in the freezer, consume it within one or two days. Keeping it for longer periods is inviting trouble. Avoid subjecting cooked food to temperature change.

These temperature fluctuations can make the food go bad. Time and temperature control are important to limit the growth of hazardous microorganisms. Ensure that you don't defrost too much food, even when expecting guests. If the chili remains, endeavor to eat it by the second day.

Can I refreeze chili?

You could but... better still don't. As pointed out above, temperatures are very vital in keeping your food safe. Assuming the chili was frozen and thawed properly, you can still refreeze it. The quality of the chili will not be the same as before. The food will have a rubbery taste to it. For food safety, reheat food thoroughly each time.

To sum it up

Now that you know how to freeze your chili, fire up the stove, and let's start cooking. Just remember to handle your food properly. Use clean utensils and sterile food containers. Work on clean work surfaces, especially if you want to prepare large batches for freezing.

You can now boldly prepare enough to see you through the next 4 months. Enjoy those family moments without worrying about dinner. Your frozen chili will maintain that hot and savory taste you love so much!

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