The case for the freezer

frozen berries with hot white chocolate sauce

"Can I freeze this?" You've probably asked this question on several occasions when faced with a surplus of an ingredient. Although not everything can be frozen, the freezer can be a valuable tool in a cook's arsenal. While you may already know many items that freeze well, The Telegraph takes a look at eight items you might not realize can be frozen.

The article begins by reminding us that in some cases frozen food can be more nutritious and of better quality than fresh. Vegetables can take weeks to hit supermarket shelves, and there's no way to know how long that fish has been sitting in the display case. Frozen food to the rescue! Due to technological advances, "many raw ingredients can be fast-frozen in seconds after being picked or plucked from the sea, without damaging taste or texture. Freezing food can also cut down on waste- many people aren't aware that certain foods destined for their bins can be frozen."

Bread and cakes, fish, and berries freeze very well and most of us probably have at least one of these items in our freezer. But did you know that you can freeze milk? Since fat freezes at lower temperatures than other substances, semi-skimmed (2%) milk is your best bet. It can last for a month in the freezer, although you'll probably want to use it in recipes instead of drinking it, as it turns a yellowish color.

Herbs also freeze well, and as a plus "often taste stronger than their fresh equivalent once defrosted. That's because freezing causes water crystals to form inside food. These raw foods take on moisture, soften and infuse over time for a more potent flavour and juices that seep out more readily." Cooked rice is another freezer contender and can be kept there for a year or more. Making a big batch of brown rice and freezing it can save you a lot of time during meal prep. 

Another surprising item on the list of things to toss in the freezer is crisps/potato chips. They go stale in no time at room temperature, but by storing them in the freezer you can extend their shelf life up to two months. You can eat them straight out of the freezer, or let them defrost for a few minutes.

Do you have any tips for storing foods in the freezer?

Photo of Frozen berries with a hot white chocolate sauce from indexed blog What's Gaby Cooking

5 Comments

  • catmommy9  on  3/23/2015 at 2:04 PM

    I highly recommend getting a FoodSaver vacuum sealer. It's just me and my husband here, and those "family packs" of meat are always cheaper than the smaller packs. When I see a good sale, I will buy, divide into smaller portions, and seal. I seal ground beef in pound and half pound portions, chicken breasts in single portions, chicken thighs in packs of two. This makes it easy to only thaw what I need for any recipe. Every few months, whole boneless pork loins go on sale for $1.99 a pound, you know, the ones that are about as long as your arm. Since different recipes call for different sized roasts, I actually plan what recipes I will make before cutting up the loin, sealing and freezing. This is just one way that Eat Your Books is useful to me. After I choose recipes, I just eyeball it to cut to the right size, seal, and use a Sharpie to label and date, including the name of the recipe it's for. I also keep a list taped to the fridge of what's there and what recipe it will be for (if applicable). Another cool tip I learned was that you can freeze unbaked muffin batter. Since it is just the two of us, baking a whole recipe at once ends up being wasteful if we can't eat them all before they go bad. It's very simple - line a muffin tin with liners, fill with batter as the recipe says, then put the whole thing in the freezer for 12-24 hours. When they are frozen solid, remove from the muffin tin, transfer to a freezer bag, and put back into the freezer. When you want to bake them, just put as many as you want to bake back into the muffin tin, and bake according to the recipe, just add 5-10 minutes of time. I tried this and it actually does work; we have not noticed any difference between fresh-baked and baked from the freezer. Link: http://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2013/09/why-didnt-i-think-of-this-sooner-freezing-muffin-batter/ I got so excited about the FoodSaver and the muffin freezing thing, that the fridge freezer is now full; I just ordered a small chest freezer for the basement. Having a stash of frozen foods really came in handy this past winter, when we were snowed in a lot and could not get out to the store. One last tip, regarding the FoodSaver - the branded bags and rolls for this are wicked expensive. You can get generic ones from Amazon that are a fraction of the brand name cost, but just as good.

  • darcie_b  on  3/23/2015 at 4:25 PM

    catmommy9 - you are far more organized than me! One thing I do is throw butter wrappers into a quart-sized bag and stash them in the freezer. I use them to butter cake pans - there's usually just enough butter left on them to thinly coat a pan and then you can just throw it away. No melting butter, using a pastry brush, etc.

  • hillsboroks  on  3/23/2015 at 9:38 PM

    I could not live without the big freezer in the basement full of berries, fish, game, veggies and all sorts of odds and ends of prep stuff like raspberry purée or homemade turkey stock. My husband loves to hunt and fish so a freezer has always been a must. We too have a Foodsaver vacuum sealer and love it for just about everything but I want to share a tip I learned from my parents about freezing fish. To keep fish almost indefinitely without freezer burn just freeze it in a block of ice. My dad loved to fish for salmon on the Oregon coast and we always had 3lb coffee cans in the freezer with salmon roasts frozen in ice. It takes a while to thaw but the quality of the fish is wonderful. We used this method for many years until we got the vacuum sealer and still freeze freshly dug razor clams in pint containers of water to keep them tasting just like fresh clams.

  • Cubangirl  on  3/23/2015 at 10:46 PM

    I food saver and freeze everything at least once. Rather than throwing food away, I try it feeling that if it does not work, I've not lost anything. I routinely freeze cooked foods, whether stews, beans, roasts, pasta, rice, etc. We purposefully cook a big batch of enhanced small burgers on the grill, leave them under and freeze them cooked. We reheat them from frozen in the microwave for a minute or two. It takes the from under to just right and make a great quick breakfast protein. Do the same for steaks for dinner. We recently got a chest freezer since the refrigerator freezers were completely out of space. Now I can also freeze flours, extra nuts, etc. We froze a huge batch of lemongrass from our plants and are starting on rhubarb now. I feel we save time and money by cooking once for more than one meal and freezing the leftovers.

  • Pigeoncottagekitchen  on  3/25/2015 at 12:08 PM

    Nuts are a really good ingredient to freeze. Due to their high fat content, pine nuts for example freeze well and don't go stale. Take them out of the freezer and they defrost almost immediately. Magic! Prevents wastage too if you only need a few for a particular recipe.

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