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I'm looking to get into making my own chilis, stews and spagehtti sauces, but I wonder if there is a better way to store my cooking. I currently use plastic containers that are probably the depth of a typical freezer, which makes it difficult to do just single servings. Mason jars were my first thought, but was told that it was easy to do it wrong, which opens you up to botulism, which doesn't sound too fun (not to mention the issues with glass and storing in cold areas.

So I"m wondering if anyone has any recommendations at all storage wise that would work for what I need, and would allow being able to continue to cook up some food in bulk and maybe save some money in the long run.

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Just want to clarify, are you looking to avoid freezing, or do you plan to continue doing that? Botulism and other food safety issues are generally more of a concern with canning than freezing - although freezing glass has its own issues. –  Aaronut Apr 16 '11 at 22:36
    
From what I've gathered freezing seems to be the safest way to store foods that you do yourself, although if I can find a way to do canning I'd prefer that option. –  canadiancreed Apr 16 '11 at 22:53
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5 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I agree with Paul on this one. Glass, freezable containers are your best bet. I like to use the smaller glass bowls that Pyrex puts out. (just search for "freezer safe glass food storage") They are a good size for 1-2+ portions, and come with flexible air tight lids. Perfect for freezing or refrigerating. Just check the label to make sure you are picking out a glass container that can handle freezing. As an added bonus, glass containers are great to microwave in, as the glass is virtually inert, and does not impart any weird flavors(or chemicals) to the food.

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if you are planning on continuing to freeze, yet want to make single-serving portions, i would recommend a vacuum bag system, like this one, which is what i use: http://tinyurl.com/4ygotv9. it's a bit of an expense up front, but it will pay for itself in the long run easily. i now make batches of things, freeze them in portions, then seal them with this and they last AGES.

EDIT: i just realized that your question specified NON-plastic solutions, but i took it to mean you mean non-plastic storage containers. the bags used for these are quite food-safe, as far as i know. i apologize if it's not exactly what you are looking for. but it really works well, and avoids the dangers you read about with a canning solution.

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Ya I realize that in this day and age finding non-plastic solutions is on par with finding healthy junk food, but figured that the attempt needed to be made. –  canadiancreed Apr 17 '11 at 4:47
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It is difficult to find ways of sealing things and avoiding plastic. A hundred years ago, many things you bought were sealed with a layer of butter, lard, or something worse. There really is very little alternative, especially since food expands on freezing and would crack a layer of "sealing fat" as it expanded.

You can get portion control by putting food into small plastic bags. You freeze those in plastic containers, so they turn into appropriately shaped slabs. When the food is frozen you take them out of the containers and stack the solid slabs in the freezer.

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You would still want to wrap the 'slabs'to avoid freezer burn. aluminium foil would do if you were really polymer-phobic –  Martin Beckett Apr 18 '11 at 1:01
    
Looks like I need to clear this up a little. You put portion size amounts of stuff in plastic bags. You stack them in a suitable plastic tub and they form into frozen slabs. Then you take them out of the plastic tub. That way you have something in a shape you can stack in the freezer, without needing a lot of large tubs in there. Each of them is still wrapped in the plastic bag you started with. –  James Barrie Apr 23 '11 at 18:44
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Pyrex makes glass storage containers in a variety of sizes that should freeze fine. They have plastic lids though. Remember not to overfill as frozen liquids expands and can break glass.

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why non-plastic? You don't state your objections to the material (or rather a large range of materials).

If it's just the size of your current containers, there exist many smaller ones that are food safe and can be used in a freezer. For example I usually save up icecream containers when I buy icecream at the supermarket. That's 1 liter (about a quart) size, freezer and food safe (of course) plastic buckets or boxes with a decent lid seal. Ideal size for your purpose I think.

If you don't want plastic at all, you can always go the old way of using old newspapers and aluminum foil. Wrap the food in foil, wrap the whole package in an old newspaper, and put that in the freezer. Looks messy as hell, but works. That's how we used to freeze fresh fish and meat way back when (or even without the aluminum foil, but in hindsight that might have caused some ink to leech into the meat, not that nice).

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For non-plastic options, just seeing if it's even possible in this day and age. As for using old newspapers and aluminum foil....might be a bit hard to do with chilis, stews and sauces. ;) –  canadiancreed Apr 19 '11 at 16:28
    
chill the chilli and it becomes reasonably solid, solid enough to pack globs of it in aluminum :) –  jwenting Apr 19 '11 at 19:13
    
Especially not nice since some inks (used to?) contain lead. –  derobert Apr 20 '11 at 6:00
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