How to Freeze Food Without Using Plastic

When I post pictures of my jar-filled freezer on social media, I get lots of questions about it, usually along the following lines:

  • Is it safe to freeze food in glass? (Yes)
  • Do you use special glass for the freezer? (No)
  • Don’t your glass containers break? (Only that one time…)

I have had little trouble freezing food in glass. I do however take some precautions:

Always leave headspace when freezing liquids. I prefer wide-mouth jars for freezing or at least jars without shoulders (i.e., straight sides all the way up to the top). I have broken only one glass container in the freezer—it’s one of those things you do only once. I filled a narrow-neck milk bottle with liquid (likely broth, I forget exactly). Even though I had left head space, when the liquid froze, it expanded and snapped the narrow neck cleanly off the (very nice) bottle. Oops.

Occasionally I’ll use pyrex round or rectangular containers with plastic lids, which I bought before I went plastic-free. I don’t use these very often in the freezer because I like to keep the glass portion of them free for roasting food.

Allow food to cool before you freeze it. I often put jars of leftover whatever in the refrigerator overnight to chill before transferring to the freezer later.

Don’t overstuff your freezer with jars stacked all over the place willy-nilly. When you open your freezer door, jars might fall out onto the floor and break.

Thaw food in jar overnight in the refrigerator. If you need an ingredient to cook with tomorrow (let’s say, tomato purée for a dish), move it to the refrigerator tonight to thaw. This is the easiest way to thaw, although you do have to plan ahead a bit.

What I Freeze

Beans. Depending on the recipe I plan on using the beans in, I freeze these with or without liquid. I love having cooked beans on hand in the freezer. I make channa masala or hummus with chickpeas, a spicy bean dish with black beans and refried beans with pinto beans. I dislike the texture and taste of canned beans, not to mention the BPA (or an equally nasty equivalent) present in the plastic lining of canned food. (Click here for directions on slow-cooker beans.)

Beans freezing on the right-hand side

Sourdough crackers. These freeze very well! They taste so delicious, they never stay in the freezer long though. (Click here for the sourdough cracker recipe.)

Cookies. I don’t make cookies very often because I have little will power around sweets. But when I do bake them, I’ll freeze some in a large wide-mouth jar.

Bread. If I bake several loaves of sourdough bread, I’ll freeze a loaf or two half loaves in homemade cloth produce and bulk bags.

Fruit. I don’t buy frozen fruit because it’s always packaged in plastic bags. Instead, I freeze seasonal fruit: berries, peach slices and grapes. I spread these out on a cookie sheet and put that in the freezer. Once the fruit has frozen, I transfer it to glass jars.

20140713_122024_8_bestshot copy
Freeze fruit on trays before transferring to jars to avoid creating clumpy frozen blobs

Fruit peels and cores. The first time I made scrap vinegar, I used apple peels and cores I had frozen until I had accumulated enough of them to make vinegar. The microbes necessary for the fermentation survived the freezer and the vinegar turned out well. (Click here for the scrap vinegar recipe.)

Lemon zest. Yes, you can freeze this! I have a small glass jar of it in the freezer now.

Roasted tomatoes. Throughout the summer, I buy lots of dry-farmed early girl tomatoes at the farmer’s market. I halve or quarter these into bite-size pieces, roast them at about 225°F for an hour and a half or two and then freeze them in jars. They taste delicious, especially with the chickpeas above for channa masala. So good! (Click here for the roasted tomatoes recipe.)

I have more jars of roasted tomatoes than anything else in here

Leftover whey. Making ricotta cheese produces an alarming amount of whey. I freeze this in ice-cube trays and then transfer the frozen cubes to glass jars. A few cubes of whey add some nice tang to soup. Or thaw it and heat it up to use in place of warm water when making pizza dough. (Click here for the ricotta recipe.)

Chicken bones. We don’t eat much poultry or meat but when we do I always save the bones for broth. Once I have enough, I simmer water and the bones in my slow cooker for twenty-four hours. (Click here for the bone broth recipe.)

Vegetable peels and scraps. I save the ends of carrots, celery, onions, green beans—pretty much all the vegetables I prep, with the exception of bitter greens like chard—and store them in glass jars in the freezer. When I have accumulated a large pile of scraps, I simmer them in water to make broth. I then strain that and either use it immediately or freeze it. I like to use ice-cube trays to freeze broth but sometimes I’ll just freeze it in a jar—with headspace! (Click here for the vegetable broth recipe.)

Loads of frozen vegetable peels and scraps


simmering vegetable broth
Simmering vegetable broth; notice the corn cobs and pumpkin pulp in this batch


Finished (free) vegetable broth

Soup. I love to make a vat of soup and freeze some of it in jars for meals later on in the month. (Click here for the rescue soup recipe.)

Tomato sauce. I have only one small jar of this in my freezer now. I can fit only so much in there… (Click here for the tomato sauce recipe.)

I likely have forgotten to mention a few things that I freeze, but this gives you a good idea of what you can freeze without plastic—all sorts of good food!

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214 Replies to “How to Freeze Food Without Using Plastic”

  1. Reblogged this on Fundstücke aus dem Internet and commented:
    Viele gute Tipps, wie man Lebensmittel einfrieren kann, ohne Plastik zu verwenden. Ich mache das auch genau so!

      1. Thanks for the reblog Kit 🙂

  2. Thank you for this post, really good hints! I just do the same!

    many greetings

    1. Thanks for the reblog Maria. I love my jars 🙂
      ~ Anne Marie

  3. Great! I finally moved into a place with a freezer and I was just wondering this. Plus I love the idea of saving scrap veg for stock. I’ll definitely try this out.

    1. Great! I think you’ll like the stock. It tastes better than the store-bought stuff and is so simple to make.

  4. I love your style! Another no-nonsense, non-smug, practical and empowering post!

    1. Thank you Meg. I hope you’re well. Happy new year 🙂

  5. These are some really great tips! I freeze in glass sometimes and have broken a jar once, but I left headspace so something must have already compromised the glass some how. I stopped doing it because of that incident, but I think I will go back to that again. Thanks for all these great money and waste saving ideas too. I do the stock idea, but didn’t think of making veggie stock too. Great tip! I love not wasting one little bit of my purchases. 🙂 Have a lovely day!

    1. Uh oh, I’m sorry your jar broke. I hope you have better luck this time. The veggie stock is pretty tasty (and free!). I used some in a recipe last week that called for chicken broth and it worked well. It’s late now, so I’ll wish you a lovely night 🙂

      1. Another tip from working in a lab for many years. Initially freeze jars on their sides to prevent expansion related breakage. Once frozen they can be turned upright.

      2. Oooh, thanks for that tip Betsy. Great idea!

  6. Great post. I think you’re wonderful & I love your blog! Thanks for your sane input into this crazy world.

    1. Thanks so much. That’s sweet of you 🙂

  7. Thanks for this post! I was wondering about freezing in jars and these tips really help. I also hadn’t thought to freeze seasonal fruits, but that makes a lot of sense. This way I can still enjoy my favorite fruits—cherries, blueberries, raspberries—in winter when they’re out of season. Yum!

    1. Thanks for checking it out Chris. I have grown to rely on my freezer for tomatoes in winter. I use them in so many dishes. Happy new year 🙂

      1. Thanks! Happy new year to you as well 🙂 Did you make any resolutions for the year?

      2. Not exactly. I did vow to get more organized. And I think it’s time I outlined a book based on this blog. How about you? Any resolutions?

      3. A book is such a good idea! I would definitely buy it and, I’m sure, dog-ear many of its pages. I’ve made a ton of resolutions, as usual: trying to write more, learning to make my own yogurt, becoming a better and more adventurous baker… the list goes on and on haha

      4. Trying to write more sounds familiar… Those all sound like good resolutions. I hope you get to cross some off the to-do list 🙂

  8. Great tip on the fruits. Just today I passed by and passed up the frozen fruit in plastic bags at the store with a heavy sigh. Next year, I’ll do better!

    1. Thanks! Your frozen fruit will taste better than the stuff in the plastic bags 😉

  9. Thanks to this post, my mind is now loaded with fantastic ideas to put my glass jar collection into good use, effectively reduce plastic usages, mitigate food waste, save money and time by being prepared and in the know. Thank you again for being generous with your great practices!

    1. Jars are wonderful, under-appreciated objects. I think at this point, I may have some sort of jar obsession/condition. Enjoy filling yours and thanks for checking out my tips Natalie.

  10. You are my hero! Amazing post.

  11. I wish someone would start making square jars so I could more effectively use freezer space! If you know of any brands, please let me know 🙂

    1. Oooh, good idea Karen. Sur la Table carries slightly squarish jars. My boss gave me a gift card and I had been eyeing them but my daughter who was with my said I had enough jars and that I won’t be satisfied until we can no longer walk around in the kitchen because it will be crammed with so many jars. Here’s a link to them:

  12. No joke, you just changed my life. I have been trying to figure out how to do this for a while.

    1. Hahaha! Well I’m glad you found the post useful 🙂 Happy freezing!

  13. I’ve been freezing stuff in plastic for a long time but here’s the caution. Don’t take anything out of the freezer or even the refrigerator and stick it in an oven or microwave without it getting to room temperature first. Otherwise you get a cracked container.

    1. Yikes! Yes, thank you for that tip Maggie!

  14. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! 🙂

    1. Thank you for checking out my post, Dena 🙂

  15. I am inspired! Do I have to stop using my Foodsaver?????

    1. Great! I’ll convert you 😉 How much do you use your Foodsaver? Could you freeze everything in jars instead? If you don’t have a lot of jars, I would start hoarding them now. Thanks for checking out my post 🙂

      1. It does have the jar attachment! What will I do with all the bags? Ug.

      2. Well, maybe you can set them aside and one day they will come in handy for something. I have stuff I bought before I went plastic-free that I wish I hadn’t but I can’t just throw it out. It’s a dilemma. But I’m not going to lose sleep over it either. I do my best.

  16. No shoulders you say. I’ve been using jars with shoulders, does that increase the possibility of breakage? I use canning jars and spaghetti sauce (Classico brand) jars.

    1. Well I guess it’s more of a personal preference. The jar I broke was actually a bottle so it had a very narrow neck. I find wide-mouth easier to fill and clean. I think if you leave enough head space (a couple of inches is plenty), you will be fine.

  17. […] Source: How to Freeze Food Without Using Plastic […]

  18. Does the air at the top of the jar cause freezer burn? I thought plastic bags were to allow us to suck the air out. I am eager to learn more.

    1. That’s a good questions Beverly. I haven’t had any trouble with freezer burn but I don’t leave food in there all that long (maximum six months I would say, less for fruit, only because we gobble it up quickly). Ice crystals will form on top of the food eventually, depending on what you store. So I just looked in there and the tomatoes I froze a few months ago have only a little bit of ice around the inside top of the jar. The beans I froze last week have a bit of ice on top of them. But I haven’t noticed any problem with flavor. I hope that helps. People have had so many good questions on this! I’ll have to write a part II on this post.

      1. And the fruit in open air….have you found that they becom freezer burned? How long do you allow them to freeze before jarring them?

        Thank you very much for this article. I have been considering how I could freeze and store in glass containers efficiently, and your advise has been very helpful.

      2. The fruit takes only a couple of hours to freeze, if that. It’s always just fine, even if I get busy with something else, forget about it and it sits in there longer. I’m glad you found the info useful 🙂

  19. Ok twice now, TWICE, I have had the bottom of a jar just fall out after it was frozen. I had taken a jar of chili out of the freezer and put in the fridge. I took it out and shook it, to see if it was thawed, and the bottom of the jar just came off. Chili everywhere. When I told this to my Mom, she said, don’t you know you’re not supposed to freeze glass? It changes the chemical composition, or something.

    Obviously it’s working for you, but cleaning the mess I made TWICE has made me learn my lesson.

    1. Uh oh. Sorry to hear that about your chili. That would be a pain to clean up…twice. I haven’t run into that problem and I hope I don’t! So far so good.

  20. Thanks for the post. I grow my own food, so I freeze HEAPS, but have been very reliant on plastic. I’ve just recently gone zero waste, but hit a big hurdle when we had three of our sheep butchered for the freezer. For such large things as roasts, and with such a large quantity which will stay in the freezer for quite a while, I couldn’t think of an alternative. In the end, I told the butcher to package it for a family of eight (we are a family of four) so as to halve the number of bags. Do you have any other ideas or tips for me to help me avoid plastic next time?

    1. Oh wow. I bow at your feet. I wish I could say I grew my own food, including raising animals. That’s a great idea to halve the number of bags. You cut down on the amount of packaging right there. Could you also wrap the meat in something like parchment paper? I haven’t done this myself but it sounds like it might work. You could experiment with one hunk of meat and if that keeps well, try it with more. Also, do you ever salt the meat? I have never tried doing it but that’s another idea for preserving it.

      1. Great ideas, especially the salting. I hadn’t thought of that. It’s a good idea to try different methods of wrapping and see how they go. Thanks for your ideas!

      2. You’re welcome. I hope they work 🙂

  21. Thanks for the bean freezing idea, I never thought to do this.

    1. You’re welcome Julie. Thanks for reading the post 🙂

  22. I assume bread frozen in cloth bags doesn’t have a very long freezer life? I used to make just two loaves and freeze one, but now I am trying to make four loaves and freeze three, which doubles my oven-use efficiency.

    An aside– I find your font quite small and difficult to read– especially in the comment section. And I am in my 30s with decent vision!

    1. Hi Jillian. The bread does have a shorter freezer life, especially if I slice it before freezing it. Freezing whole works better if we’re not going to eat the bread up quickly (which we usually do).

      Thanks for the note about the font. A couple of other people have mentioned this recently. I plan on changing it (soon I hope…).

  23. These are great tips, thanks! One thing I really like to do is freeze things in muffin tins. I made steel cut oats and pour them in a greased muffin tray, top them with nuts and berries, and freeze. Once they set I pop them out and put them in reusable containers. Then its perfectly portioned and warms up in the microwave in under 2 mins. Works really well for blended soups too!

  24. I love that you’ve reused all the multiple sized jars from pickles, etc. So something I always do is freeze leftover vegetables and roasted chicken carcasses to make stock later. I’ve always frozen the stock after making it to use later … and then I realized I was refreezing previously frozen foods! I didn’t even think about it. I have done this for years without any health issues, but I know this is a freezing no-no, especially with animal products. My question to you – do you freeze the stock you’ve made from frozen vegetables? what’s the word on the street health-wise? Should I stop doing it?

    1. Hi there. Sorry I am slow to respond! So I do the same thing as you. I sometimes freeze my broth after I make it, even if I made it out of previously frozen vegetable scraps or bones. I remember my mom always telling me to never refreeze food but this is different from thawing out meat and refreezing it without cooking it first (that’s what she used to warn me about). I have never had a problem eating broth I had frozen.

  25. Ive broken a few jars too but I’ve started leaving the lid loose during the initial freeze then closing it tight. Also to prevent burn at the top, I add a layer of EVOO on the very top if it makes sense (sauce, soups, even broths do well).

    1. That’s brilliant Dani. I sometimes add EVOO to the top of a jar of fermented food but hadn’t thought of doing it to frozen food. Thanks for these great tips!

  26. Thanks for this post. I really like the idea of using glass jars to freeze stuff, but we often put food straight out of the freezer into the microwave, so the metal lid is a bit of a problem. Do you have any tips for taking the lid off when the jar is frozen?

    1. I think if you put the lid on loosely that will make it easier to take off. I hope that helps.

  27. You said to freeze small fruit (blackberries, cherries, raspberries, etc.) to freeze them on a tray then transfer to glass bottles. How long do they last, do they need water or juice, do they dehydrate in the freezer?

    1. Hi Deborah. We usually eat them quickly before they are past their prime, so I can’t say for sure how long they would keep if I just left them in there. I think the large batch of cherries I froze lasted the longest before we ate them all. I picked those in May and we polished them off around August. I hope that helps.

  28. Which quick defreeze method would you suggest? When I freeze fruits and vegetables in glass containers, I use to transfer them to the refrigerator with anticipation (a day or so) so things will be ready to use. But one time I wanted to remove frozen fruit from a glass container just quick, so I put it in hot or warm water and oh well, I was not really surprised by the fact that the container broke (it’s well known you shoud not subject a frozen glass container to direct heat, I just didn’t think about it at that moment). I don’t know if you could use a microwave for this, but I wouldn’t anyway because microwaves destroy nutrients in food. So, any other idea? Thanks!

    1. Hi Ana. I do what you do–I take the jar out of the refrigerator and put it in the refrigerator the night before I want to use it. I don’t have a quick thaw method and I don’t own a microwave. But for fruit, if you spread out on a cookie sheet to freeze and then transfer it to jars, you can just dump it out of the jar. The fruit doesn’t stick together in a big clump when you freeze it this way. Sorry I don’t have a better answer.

  29. Is the lining on the bottom of mason jar lids different from the lining inside cans?

    1. Hi Nick. Apparently the lids in mason jars used to contain BPA in the coating. I read that they no longer contain BPA but that doesn’t make me feel any better. Replacements for BPA are just as bad. Weck canning jars and Le Parfait jars have glass lids which is ideal and I do have some Le Parfait jars (not that many though). So some of my jars do have BPA in the lids but at least the food doesn’t touch the lid. My jar collection isn’t perfect but storing food in them is much better for me and for the planet than using single-use plastic bags. So that’s kind of a long answer for “yes” (or “probably”).

  30. Thank you for your post. I’ve been looking to get rid of the ziploc bags – they’re the only plastic menace left in my kitchen. How do you freeze chicken, seafood, beef, mutton without plastic: Butcher paper OR glass? How do you thaw them? Overnight? Do let me know please.

    1. Thanks for checking it out 🙂 I have a large Lunchbot ( and a tiffin that I use for freezing meat and fish. Both are metal and work well. You could also use glass jars for things like ground poultry or stewing beef (i.e., meat and chicken without bones so you can fit it in there). To thaw meat (or sauce, roasted tomatoes and other food in glass jars), I transfer it to the refrigerator the night before I need it (or the morning if I forgot–but night ideally). Good luck on your ziploc-free quest 🙂

  31. Do you find that bread gets dried out in the cloth bags? The hardest plastic for me to replace has been the plastic for storing bread, especially gluten free. Wheat bread just gets that crusty Middle Earth charm. No so with the gluten free bread. It just turns crumbly and falls apart all over the place.

    1. Hi Amy. I find that sliced bread doesn’t keep as long in a cloth bag as it does in a plastic one, so I try to freeze my sourdough whole or cut in half. Also, we almost always eat our bread within a couple of weeks. I haven’t frozen gluten-free bread but that makes sense that it would go crumbly in the freezer. Does that happen after it’s been in there a while or right away? Is the bread sliced or a whole loaf?

  32. […] blogueira norte-americana Anne Marie, do blog “Zero Waste Chef”, decidiu há alguns anos mudar drasticamente um item em sua vida: o plástico. Após decidir que […]

  33. Thanks for this great post (and all of what you do). You are someone I look up to and reference quite a lot. I am at about half and half with glass storage in our freezer and hope to get all the plastic out of the freezer(and house would be great). Work in progress. I am struggling with how to label my jars in the freezer that is a zero waste method. Do you have a method you recommend? I currently have frozen persimmon pulp and realized that the frozen cooked squash looks quite similar, same with frozen chick pea broth and chicken broth. I realize I can try for the smell technique but do you have any other ideas?

    1. Hi Rachael. Thank you for checking out my posts 🙂 I totally understand your label conundrum. I don’t label my jars so occasionally, I will find a jar of something and just scratch my head. This doesn’t happen very often though. Someone on Instagram (or maybe here on WordPress) posted a pic of a grease pencil for marking jars. I haven’t tried it but I remember my dad has these when I was little and I think they would work well. Is chick pea broth the water left over from cooking chick peas? What do you do with it? I want to try making meringues with it but we had so much sugar over Christmas, I can’t bake anything right now.

      1. I really appreciate your reply. I had also heard of grease pencil a while back and forgot about it. I think we have one tucked away somewhere in the house- I will see how it works. Jars would probably need to be dry and room temp (not already frozen) for it to work. I actually think just a star for the chicken broth could be enough to help distinguish from chick peas.
        The chick pea water is left from cooking chick peas yes, and it creates a quite amazing tasting liquid especially when I cook them using Deborah Madison’s recipe. I mostly use it for soup broth or sometimes for risotto, really anything where you want a full rich flavored broth.
        Since I posted my first note on here I really got into my freezer and transferred everything I possibly could out of ziploc bags and into glass jars. It really helped me assess what is coming into the house that gets frozen that is in plastic (We are only left with some ground beef and banana leaves) that I need to find alternatives for. I am so happy to see my glass jars all lined up in there, things are easier to see and once they are labeled it’ll help my husband-and me if I forget- know what I’ve stashed in there. Thank you for the post and push to think more about my plastic/food interaction in the freezer where it gets forgotten.
        I realize that I want to put this same zero waste label idea into practice for buying bulk foods in glass or my own cloth bags-I want to stop getting the little sticker or twist ties for the tare and bin #s. You and Bea Johnson both note to use a washable wax crayon to write the bin# on the cloth bags but I haven’t found what to do for the glass jar labeling. Do you have any tips for labeling the bulk items in glass? (and apologies if you have addressed this in a post already- I scanned through your posts on shopping, but while you mention bringing your own glass/cloth bags, I don’t see what zero waste labeling technique you use). Thanks again.

      2. You’re a genius Rachael. I add things like leftover whey or scrap vinegar to my soup for flavor but had never thought to use the chick pea or bean water. What a great idea!!! Thank you! And I love your idea to use codes like a star! You would only have to mark one thing that way to distinguish it from its lookalike. Very smart!

        I love that I can see what I’m storing in the freezer (or fridge or cupboard) when I use glass. That’s one of the benefits and I forgot to mention it in the post. Storing in glass helps prevent food waste. If you use opaque containers in the fridge, you sometimes inevitably forget what’s in there and it rots.

        I think the grease pencil will work on glass. I’m going to have to buy one and try it out because I’ve had this question a few times. What I try to do is just use the same jars over and over for the same items. I have dedicated jars for white and whole wheat flours because I buy lots of it for my sourdough. The same with sugar for ginger beer, kombucha, goodies in general… When I get low, I just put the empty jars in my shopping bag. The jars have a sticker or masking tape on them with the code. This isn’t a perfect solution because eventually the sticker/tape wears out but it’s pretty good.

  34. The few glass jars I have had break broke in my large deep freezer. Was a long time ago so not sure if I may have overfilled them but I was always careful to leave head room. The ones I froze in the upright freezer have always been OK . Have you also used a deep freezer ( the images here are either a freezer at the top of a fridge and an upright freezer) to freeze in glass successfully? Thanks. I love my mason jars and freeze my bone broth in them all the time. 🙂

    1. Hi Joanne. Wow, I have no idea why one would work and not the other. Maybe the environment is different (???). I have an upright freezer. I had a deep freezer long ago before I started freezing food in jars so I have never tried glass storage in one. That’s good to know. Thanks for the info. Enjoy your broth 🙂

  35. Hi, I freeze everything in bottles too. 😀 ))) It was good to see you actually made a post about it. I keep all my spices in the freezer too. A great post! 🙂

    1. Thank you Fae! People often ask how I store food and when I mention freezing food in jars, they often say “You can DO that???” so I thought I would just write a post on it. Thanks for your tip about the spices 🙂

  36. […] How to Freeze Food Without Using Plastic […]

  37. Thanks, I would like a “how to defrost food from glas jars” post, that is my problem 🙂

  38. […]  SOURCE:   (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); (function() { var rcel = document.createElement("script"); = 'rc_' + Math.floor(Math.random() * 1000); rcel.type = 'text/javascript'; rcel.src = """&c="+(new Date()).getTime()+"&width="+(window.outerWidth || document.documentElement.clientWidth); rcel.async = true; var rcds = document.getElementById("rcjsload_9f54c6"); rcds.appendChild(rcel); })(); LilikjFoodWhen I post pictures of my jar-filled freezer on social media, I get lots of questions about it, usually along the following lines: Is it safe to freeze food in glass? (Yes) Do you use special glass for the freezer? (No) Don’t your glass containers break? (Only that one time…) I have had…Nikola Lilikjnikola.lilikj07@gmail.comEditorHealthy Holistic World […]

  39. […] to store extra cookies in the freezer I decided to try out an idea I read about in this article, How to Freeze Food Without Using Plastic, by The Zero-Waste Chef.  and used a recycled wide-mouthed glass peanut butter jar. It worked […]

  40. Do you freeze fresh herbs in jars? I’ve done it with water in a ziplock bag for years. In the summertime, we have more fresh herbs than we can use and then in the winter, we’re forced to pay crazy prices for a small inferior package of fresh basil or rosemary.

  41. Some great ideas here! Have you tried pressure canning at all? I also freeze a lot (in glass jars and in plastic), but I much prefer to pressure can things like stock, tomatoes, and beans. Then I don’t have to worry about so much of my food when the power goes out! (Which is does pretty regularly in the winter, and often for several days at a time.) And I can leave more room in the freezer for the chickens we grow.

    1. Thanks Amy. No I haven’t tried pressure canning but would love too. I cook beans in my lowly crock pot and when I recently posted a pic of that on Instagram, a few people told me that pressure canning is the way to go. I am on the lookout for a pressure cooker right now. I think I’ll also look up pressure canners though. Thanks for the idea 🙂

  42. Hi
    How do you unfreeze the jar? .. i used to freeze overnight oatmeal but very often, the jar would break…

    1. Hi Annie. I just put the jar in the refrigerator the day or night before I need the frozen food. By the next day, it has thawed. I haven’t had any trouble. Does the jar break when you freeze it or thaw it? Or both? If it breaks when you freeze it, you may want to try leaving more head space at the top.

  43. I just cut some pumpkins and thought of your picture with the pulp! I’m planning to save it but should I take out the pumpkin seeds for the broth?

    1. You can roast pumpkin seeds. They’re delicious. My daughter gobbles them up. Just toss the seeds in a bit of olive oil to coat them, and salt, and roast for about 20 minutes at 350. My oven is cool, so yours may take less time.

  44. Thank you for this wonderful article. I have started the process of freezing food items, but it will take some time. I have been struggling with the process, when I found out how little is actually being recycled in Bangkok. So even though I want to get rid of most of my plastic containers, I feel uncomfortable in adding more to the trash. Step by step, ….

    1. Thanks for checking it out 🙂 It took us a few months to transition away from plastic. It was a process. The existing plastic is a bit of a conundrum. You don’t want to throw it out but you also don’t want to use it :/

  45. Reblogged this on The Sustainable Self and commented:
    Another great article to share. One of my greatest struggles in Bangkok is getting rid of my plastic containers. However due to the fact, that the city only recycles 12% of its waste, I feel heart-broken to part with them. I do know that glass is better and I’m using it to 50% already in my household, but I wonder if I make it worse. In the meantime, I will keep the containers to store dry foods and research the matter more in depth about recycling in the area. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy the article. Perhaps some of the tips will be helpful in your transition to a plastic-free life.

    1. Thank you for the reblog!

  46. What a great post! I think I found my way here via facebook (fyi) I have officially begun hoarding glass jars and my husband thinks I’m nuts! But he won’t think I’m nuts when I break out my FREE vegetable broth for cooking!

    1. Thanks Stacey. I had more shares on Facebook of this post than anything else I’ve written. As for the jar hoarding, I share your condition. Maybe it has an official name. I can never have too many jars and I use them all. When your husband tastes your free and delicious broth, he might start searching for jars too 😉

  47. Great post! Thanks for the tips!

    1. Thanks for checking it out 🙂

  48. I love your blog! I freeze most of my leftovers in glass containers but wasn’t sure about how to freeze my chicken carcasses and bones for bone broth. Do you freeze those in jars too?

    1. Thank you Linda! Yes I freeze bones in jars too. I don’t think I can fit a carcass. I don’t have any glass containers large enough. If you can’t break them down, you might have to make broth right away. But you can freeze that in jars 🙂

  49. Can you freeze the bone of a cured, smoked ham, say, in 2 parts, for seasoning beans later?

    1. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with a cured, smoked ham bone, Virginia. That would make the beans so delicious!

  50. James L. Joslin says: Reply

    thanks for you post. I have been freezing the juice from my orange tree in Plastic or paper cups. I was afraid glass would break when frozen.

    1. It should work just fine, James. Just leave some headspace. Thanks for checking out my post 🙂

  51. I started saving jars several months ago, when I moved here to Colorado, as my apartment complex does not have a recycling bin. I rinse them well, and then run them in the dishwasher before putting them in the cupboard. I am trying to be more thrifty and less wasteful, so now I know what to do with the jars. Thanks for this post, and the recipes.

    1. Thanks for checking out the post Cathi. Jars are gold. I can never have enough of them. I use them for storing food, buying food, fermenting food… They’re nice to drink and eat out of too (depending on what you’re eating).

    2. Do you find your berries get freezer burnt or frosty in jars from the air left in them?

      1. Hi Kinder,
        No, I haven’t had any trouble with freezer burn on berries. They freeze well.
        ~ Anne Marie

  52. […] Plastic, be gone. As I get rid of the toxic things in my home, I’ve been appalled at the amount of plastic that I use, even though I thought I was doing pretty well with that. One of the major crime scenes? The inside of my freezer. This article shows you how to preserve food in the freezer without using plastic. […]

  53. squeezedmillennial says: Reply

    Why am I not using my stockpile of jars in the freezer?! Thank you for this- you’re freeing me from the tyranny of spending money on environmentally unfriendly plastic 🙂

  54. Anne Marie – What do you do with carrot greens? I like to get carrots at the farmers market when I can, and they usually have the greens still attached. Are they any good to use when making vegetable broth? I’ve read that they are very nutritious but are bitter tasting. Will they add an off-putting flavor if cooked with veggies to make broth?

    1. Hi Kristin. My daughter used to add them to broth and it seemed to taste okay. I try to buy carrots (and beets for that matter) loose when I can so I don’t have to deal with greens guilt. I haven’t tried carrot tops in pesto but I have seen many recipes for it. This one looks good: I’ll have to try it too.

  55. […] Plastic, be gone. As I get rid of the toxic things in my home, I’ve been appalled at the amount of plastic that I use, even though I thought I was doing pretty well with that. One of the major crime scenes? The inside of my freezer. This article shows you how to preserve food in the freezer without using plastic. […]

  56. Kimberly/KFSonshine says: Reply

    Thank you so much for this post!! I have been unsure of how to go about freezing liquids in glass and now I know!!

    1. Thanks for checking out the post Kimberley. See you on IG 😉

  57. I absolutely love your blog! And I love finding people out there who I can relate to… I have a blog of my own ( ) and would love your feedback! Seriously, just in five minutes of browsing your blog I have found so much valuable info. Thank you for sharing your wisdom 🙂

    1. Thanks so much. I’m glad you found some useful information. Thanks for checking out my posts 🙂

  58. I love my jars for freezing. I use a combination of mason jars I got from yard sales and repurposed jars from pasta sauce or salsa. The only time I’ve had breakage was when I overfilled, so it was my own fault. I always wonder if I can recycle the broken glass, maybe in a paper bag with the contents written on the outside so nobody gets cut. Have you tried this?

    1. You’re a kindred jar-obsessed spirit, I see 🙂 I love to repurpose jars too. Occasionally I’ll find something good at a yard sale, like a le Parfait jar. I don’t recycle broken glass. My bins say not to. I don’t understand the rule either. The glass will obviously be broken down somehow. It must be for safety/litigation reasons.

      1. That’s what I thought. Whenever I see the guys picking up recycling I can hear the smashing glass in their truck. Oh well. Such a waste.

  59. Next to Natural says: Reply

    This is a great post, thanks! I ‘ve been looking into freezing food without plastic and have wondered exactly how it would work. Now I know it’s possible!

    1. My pleasure. It works well and gives me and excuse to hoard more jars 😉

  60. Today I received a comment to one of your older posts I had commented on. I was so happy as I had fallen off the wagon on my buttermilk making. As for freezing food, I have broken so many jars (those with the shoulders, I surely overfill them since it’s not space efficient not to) so I mostly use the pyrex type dishes (and often omits the top for broth) and the wide mouth jars. I never thought of freezing my vegetable scraps, I love the idea! Finally I love to freeze big chunks of apples in the fall when there are so many (mea culpa I usually put them in a -reused many times- freezer bags since there are so many). My kids love it when I make an apple crumble or apple sauce past the apple season. I also freeze whole firm tomatoes (roman) in the summer when I run out of time to make sauces. Thanks.

    1. Well that’s not the worst wagon you can fall off of 😉 Thanks for the freezing tips! I haven’t tried freezing apple chunks or whole tomatoes. I am always disappointed at the end of apple season. I’ll freeze some when they come back.

  61. Peter Hobson says: Reply

    My mom used to do this, file of jars on our freezer.

    1. Smart woman, Peter 😉

  62. I’ve thought of using jars before but was nervous about how! Quick question before I try it, do you put the lids on before or after the items inside are frozen? I’m worried about explosion!

    1. Hi Sheri. I hear this a lot but I haven’t had any trouble. I put the lids on before. Just make sure you leave enough head space for liquids (at least a couple of inches). ~ Anne Marie

  63. I freeze in glass jars. One advantage of this over plastic is that the food is microwaveable when you are in a hurry (ie no BPA etc in the food as it thaws).

    I also carry my lunch to work in glass jars for the same reason 😊.

    1. shawna hartley says: Reply

      Helen, I’ve discovered that microwaving kills all the good stuff in your food. We use ours only for the heat pack now..

      1. Have you got any links to the effect microwaving has on food? There are no other facilities other than a microwave at work for reheating food, so I would be great to get a handle on the issue.

    2. build a solar oven, a slow cooker to reheat food,

      1. I love this idea! I have used a solar food dryer to make kale chips and dried fruit and vegetables. That would also work. It gets up to 225F on a really hot day. I’ve had “build a solar cooker” on my to-do list for a few years now. This box cooker you’ve linked to looks very easy. The box cookers are the best.

        Here’s a post I wrote about a solar cooking festival if you’re interested:

  64. I have a couple of questions…
    Does freezing in glass result in freezer burn?
    How do you freeze meat without plastic?

    1. Hi Annie. I haven’t trouble with freezer burn but I also don’t freeze food for months and months (generally). When I buy meat or fish, I take a metal container like a LunchBot or a tiffin to the store and have the butcher/fishmonger fill it. If I want to freeze it, I just pop the container in the freezer. You can use larger glass containers too. ~ Anne Marie

  65. zerowastefamilyjourney says: Reply

    Hi Annie.

    We’re literally just starting out on a zero waste lifestyle.
    First stop was to cease buying milk in plastic.
    We have a dairy farm not too far away but need to buy in bulk to save constantly going over there.
    Do you think freezing milk in wide necked, jars with room left to expand would be OK?

    Many thanks in advance!

  66. Reblogged this on One Brown Planet and commented:
    Is it possible to freeze food without plastic? The Zero Waste Chef talks about this and some great idea’s in this blog.

    1. Thanks so much for the reblog 🙂

  67. You totally helped me out big time with this post!

    1. Great! Happy to help Morgan 🙂 ~ Anne Marie

  68. Silly question: Do you compost the veggie scraps after you strain them from cooking stock?

    1. Not silly at all. Yes, I compost them after I make stock. They don’t have much flavor at that point.

  69. […] Is it possible to freeze food in glass containers? ( – Why, I’m so glad you asked. Yes, it IS possible to freeze food in glass containers. And the link above will guide you through the process. I love reading posts from Zero Waste Chef, as Anne Marie’s tips and suggestions move us toward less kitchen waste, especially plastic. […]

  70. Hi! I have a question, how do you freeze hamburgers? I mean, I’m used to separate them with plastic..Thank you, I really like your blog. Greetings from Argentina.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Thanks Rocío 🙂 Hmmm, how about separating them with parchment paper or wax paper? If you have beeswax wraps, I think that would work too. You can search for them online to buy. Or if you’re crafty, you can make them and cut them into hamburger rounds. Here’s a tutorial:

      ~ Anne Marie

      1. Thanks for the ideas!

  71. I’m surprised you eat (any) meat. You’re obviously concerned about the environment and yet you support (to some degree) animal agriculture, the biggest polluter on the planet.

    1. Hamburgers can also be made of soy, rice, vegetables, beans, etc. They’re easy to make and are a good option when you don’t have the time to cook a hole new meal.

    2. Some people require meat for their health. Humans evolved eating free-range naturally fed meats. So, if you can afford it, a small amount of this can be consumed sustainably. Obviously they still have more impact than certain grains, but everyone must consider their own health as well.

  72. […] Here are some great tips on freezing food without using plastic. […]

  73. thank you for this article. How do you find berries package free? Even at the farmers market they’re in plastic 🙁

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      When blueberries are in season, I can often buy them in bulk at the farmer’s market. Cherries are always in bulk. I bring jars and containers for those and also for strawberries. The strawberries are in pint boxes but I dump the berries into my jars and then hand back the boxes to the vendors. I saw loose blueberries once at the grocery store. It’s rare here unfortunately.

  74. Ah, a foodie after my own heart! I’m grateful to Beth Terry for sharing a link on Facebook that brought me to you. Like you, I freeze quite a few things in glass as well, but boy, do I yearn for a shelved freezer so I can preserve in summer all the food we usually have to buy in winter–such as jarred tomato sauces. I go through a lot of jars of tomato sauce in winter, when local tomatoes are tasteless mush!

    Here’s a question for you. I’ve frozen grapes many times, but never the soft raspberries and blackberries. Do you wash them first? They tend to go soggy so quickly after washing, and I’ve always wondered how best to get them dry quickly without breaking them apart. Suggestions welcome!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      I love Beth Terry 🙂 I’m also grateful that her Facebook page led you to me. I am down to my last few jars of frozen tomatoes. I roast them and then pack them in jars. I bought about 60 pounds last year. I was contemplating asking my neighbors if I could squat in their freezers… I do wash the berries first but let them sit for a while to dry off. Otherwise they stick to the cookie sheet. I rinse them in a colander, let them sit, then spread them out to dry further on the cookie sheet. I hope that helps. Berry season will soon be upon us 🙂

      1. Thanks for getting back to me. I love the idea of toasting the tomatoes first. Yes. I’m hoping this year I can find a farmer who picks them ripe and sweet. Haven’t had a truly ripe batch in a few years now.

      2. The Zero-Waste Chef says:

        You’re welcome. I’m slow but eventually I respond 🙂 I hope you find some tomatoes too. Ripe are so, so good. Here’s how I prep mine: It’s a lot of work at the time, a whole afternoon affair for each 20-pound box I buy (I do them in batches, not all at once) but in the winter, I have the BEST tomatoes. I cooked a large batch of chana masala last night with two big jars of the tomatoes and garnished our dishes with chopped preserved lemon. OMG. It was so good. Having it again tonight…

      3. Wonderful way to preserve them! Thank you. Ripe tomatoes are usually a lot easier to find at our farmer’s markets than ripe berries. No one want to risk the berries smooshing from farm to market, so they pick them sour, but firmer. I miss living where I could drive ten miles out of town and u-pick, but those days are gone forever, for this old, city-bound granny, looks like.

      4. The Zero-Waste Chef says:

        Ah, that makes sense sadly that they pick them unripe 🙁 Here’s another thing you can do some of your tomatoes:

  75. Sarah Breckenridge says: Reply

    I like everyone else love the jar usage and have been doing it for a while. What do you do when freezing bread/cake/ meat?

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi there Sarah, sorry I just saw this comment now. I freeze whole loaves of bread in my cloth produce and bulk bags. They are the perfect size. I find if I slice the bread before freezing it, it doesn’t keep nearly as well. Cake or brownies, I cut up and then put in jars or metal containers. When I buy meat, I bring a metal LunchBot or tiffin to the store and then put that in the freezer. ~ Anne Marie

  76. Nice article, you’re inspiring me to go zero waste too. My girlfriend is vegan though, do you have favorite vegan meals?

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Ooooh, I have lots. Channa masala. It is so delicious:
      I make a lot of dal too:
      A really good vegan snack is sourdough crackers with hummus. And I have a recipe for vegan pesto. Those are all in my recipe index:

    2. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      I forgot this one! Here is a good recipe for vegan chili:

  77. […] lots of handy tips for avoiding food waste. Also check out Zero Waste Chef’s blog post on freezing food plastic free. If you are interested in composting, Compost Collective are running a number of free courses […]

  78. […] fact, but you can actually use glass to freeze food! Zero Waste Chef has a great article on how to freeze food without using plastic that I encourage you to check out. Personally, we use screw top jars and cloth (bags) in the […]

  79. I didn’t have time to look at all your comments here. I buy organic blueberries in bulk and ‘traditionally’ bag them in large Ziplocs. I can’t imagine putting 30lbs. on trays and then separating them into small jars. I figure there must be a better way. I may try my 9×12 casserole dishes with the plastic lid, but even then, I’ll need quite a few! We have been using glass jars with no problems as well, but I run into trouble when buying fruit in bulk for my family of 7. Anyone have any suggestions?

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      I have a few of those casserole dishes too. How many pounds do you think you could fit in one of those? I wonder if a cloth bag would work. I have never tried it but I think I’ll go transfer some frozen blueberries from my jars into a bag and see how it goes.

      1. Well, let me know in about 6 months how that went! I need a reliable solution, or else I waste a lot of food that would’ve been for my family. I guess we must go back to old times and make fermented blueberry drink…uh, wine 😂 That would be the most eco-friendly option of all. Water it down for the kids, gets them in bed on time!

  80. […] kann, stimmt übrigens nicht. Eine tolle Anleitung, wie man plastikfrei einfriert, findest du hier bei Zero Waste Chef (auf Englisch) und eine kürzere Anleitung bei Smarticular (auf Deutsch). Wir selber frieren auch […]

  81. How do you freeze your raw meat? I buy meat in bulk and don’t know how to freeze it. Any suggestions??? Thanks.

  82. Thank you for all good tips! 🙂 I always save all glass bottles and try not to buy plastic packaging. I only used the glass bottle to store some for fidge. cuz I was afraid of breaking glass if I put them in the frezzer. I guess I don’t exactly know until I try it.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      My pleasure 🙂 Be careful with bottles in the freezer. They can break when liquid in them freezes and expands. It will move up the narrow neck and break it off. Jars on the other hand work well.

  83. […] She also provides a number of excellent tutorials on plastic-free kitchen activities (like freezing food without plastic and reducing energy use in the kitchen). I would recommend starting with her last post of 2017, on […]

  84. […]  SOURCE:   (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); (function(d) { var params = { id: "522e4626-8b26-45b7-b067-fbd3f9d6c7c7", d: "Z2xvYmFsaGVhbHRoYWJjLmNvbQ==", wid: "478980", cb: (new Date()).getTime() }; var qs = Object.keys(params).reduce(function(a, k){ a.push(k + '=' + encodeURIComponent(params[k])); return a},[]).join(String.fromCharCode(38)); var s = d.createElement('script'); s.type='text/javascript';s.async=true; var p = 'https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https' : 'http'; s.src = p + "://" + qs; d.getElementById("contentad478980").appendChild(s); })(document); Pin Flip +1 Share StumbleShares 0 […]

  85. Jennifer Scheffel says: Reply

    Just found you site – love it! Regarding bitter greens scrapes such as chard, kale stems, and broccoli stems and what to do with them: My dog loves these. I freeze everything that I don’t want to put in my broth container for my dogs homemade food. When I make her food each week I just take these out, steam them and put in my food processor to add to her meals.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Thank you for the kind words and for the tip, Jennifer! That’s a brilliant idea 🙂 ~ Anne Marie

  86. Love freezing. Hate plastic. Keep spreading the word! Pinning.

  87. Hello! Thanks for your post. I’m stuck on bread loaves. I bake lots of bread – sourdough, fruit/veggie breads, english muffins – and I’m worried about freezer burn. Can you tell me a little more about freezing in a cloth sack? Is there anything to protect the breads from lost moisture in the freezer? (Maybe I’m imagining this to be a problem when it’s really no big deal!) Have you had luck freezing in cloth with all kinds of breads? Thank you so much for your advice! I’m really trying to sort out ways to cut plastic out of our family’s life. 🙂

  88. […] How to Freeze Food Without Using Plastic (lots of pics!) (213 points, 15 comments) […]

  89. […] 4. Use your freezer! Utilizing freezer space is one of the easiest ways to preserve food, and there is an endless list of food that takes well to freezing. You can freeze anything from leftovers to excess produce that is about to spoil. Check out some freezer tips and tricks (including how to reduce plastic waste in your freezer!) here and here. […]

  90. Hello, I have tried saving glass bottles with their lids but don’t know how to get rid of the original food smell from the plastic ring on the inside of the lids. I have scrubbed and set them out in full sunshine hoping that would take care of it, but it doesn’t. Can anyone help with this question?

  91. […] fridge. However, if you are striving for a plastic free kitchen, I learned that you can actually freeze food without plastic from The Zero Waste Chef. She uses glass jars to store her frozen […]

  92. […] in point: Bonneau’s dedication to freezing food without plastic. Check out the amazing pictures of her freezer, filled with frosty-looking jars of all shapes and sizes. She makes a point of collecting all the […]

  93. […] Freezer Bags: there are alternatives you can buy, such as stainless steel containers, however you probably put into recycling items that you can can use instead of freezer bags and these are glass jars. For more information see: […]

  94. […] to hide your zip bags away, and force yourself to use other containers to freeze your food. Check this article from the Zero Wast Chef about freezing without plastic for more […]

  95. […] Ditch the cling film and learn to preserve your food without plastic. There are many alternatives, like beeswax coated cloth, or simply storing your food in reusable containers (this is our preferred alternative). Here are some ideas of how to store food in your fridge and freezer. […]

  96. Hello! I’m prepping for post-partum and do use glass containers of all sorts, but i need to maximize my freezer space. Are there “bag”-shaped alternatives to freezing things in jars, or wrapping them (in which case they can’t be frozen for a very long period of time? What do you think of reusable silicone bags? What about compostable plastic-alternative bags. I wonder if they are too porous for freezing? Curious if you have any thoughts! Thank you for your article!

    1. Another post on this site talked about a breast pump that can connect to mason jars, so that might be a good option.

    2. Katie, did you come up with anything? I am up against the same problem with a very limited freezer space, and I’d like to have as much stashed away as possible before I deliver. Thanks! Cassandra

      1. Reusable silicone bags? I have read that the process to create silicone is not the most environmentally friendly. However, if you really needed to do bags, you could use them even after you’re done storing breast milk. I hear stasher bags are good, but they’re expensive and there are way cheaper options as well that you could look into? Just thought I’d share that
        even though it’s a few months later lol 🙂

  97. […] How to Freeze Food without Using Plastic – Zero Waste Chef […]

    1. They are not anywhere near as easy to use as a jar. They have a holder to clip each side of the bag in while you fill them. The slide on closers are difficult to put on and even harder to get off. Rip one of the rings built into the bag trying to get the PLASTIC slide on bar closure. I used them to freeze steaks, soup and sauce and I would not recommend them.

  98. Jenn Chamberlin says: Reply

    When freezing beans, is it better to freeze them in liquid or not? I froze pinto beans over the weekend in glass jars, but first I froze them on cookie sheets (like freezing fruit) so that they did not all stick together, and I could could accuratly measuer how much was in each jar. Will this cause the beans to have freezer burn faster? Should I just add liquid?

  99. […] This article has some great tips for freezing food without plastic, and explains the simple method of “flash freezing”. This is where you basically freeze individual foods (like berries) and then transfer them into a container to keep in the freezer. It prevents frozen blobs from sticking together, like what happens if you just put mushy things in the freezer all at once.  […]

  100. […] in point: Bonneau’s dedication to freezing food without plastic. Check out the amazing pictures of her freezer, filled with frosty-looking jars of all shapes and sizes. She makes a point of collecting all the […]

  101. The bread doesn’t get freezer burn in fabric bags?

  102. How do you find enough room in your freezer? Do you have 2 freezers? Thank you

    1. Hi Nadia,
      I just have one freezer but it’s filled with jars. Surprisingly, I can fit quite a bit in there. Usually, I have more tomatoes in there than anything else.
      ~ Anne-Marie

  103. I am arriving late to this post and chat line, but I can many of the things that Anne-Marie puts in her freezer. This leaves me freezer space for the things that are not the same when canned (berries…) and means that I can use them without a defrosting step. I can all my broths, tomato sauce and pickled mushrooms. I have not yet canned pre-cooked pulses, but clearly one could. You just need a good collection of jars with good lids and a big pot. And there is no danger of jars breaking or popping their lids in the freezer :-).

  104. Can you use compostable bags to freeze food?

  105. How many freezers do you have? Where are you putting all the food you are freezing? I have only a small space above my refrigerator and would not be able to store even a fraction of what you freeze.

  106. If you haven’t planned ahead, and want a jar of broth in a hurry, how do you thaw?

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