Besides raw meat and seafood, there are many other foods you can freeze. Take advantage of your freezer; it’s an awesome tool.
What’s in my freezer?
Whenever I’m running low on chicken broth, I fill every available pot with chickens and cook up the broth. It freezes perfectly and I use it in SO many different meals. It’s such a vital part of my kitchen, I make sure to have it in stock ALWAYS. You can store it in plastic containers or even in ziptop bags.
Whenever we have a Buy One Get One Free sale on good quality bread, I stock up and freeze it. I actually don’t like to eat it all that much, (I prefer Italian bread or homemade bread) but it works great for breadcrumbs. I simply take out as many slices as I need, stick the bread in the toaster and heat it up just until it thaws.
Of course, you can freeze homemade bread too. Wrap it in parchment paper and store in a sealed ziptop bag, or wrapped in a few layers or aluminum foil. Unthaw and it will taste as fresh as when you wrapped it up.
Nuts have a very high oil content, so they go rancid very quickly, and start to taste bitter and just WRONG. Storing them in the freezer is a great solution. Nuts aren’t cheap, so I save so much money simply because I never have to throw them out and they’re cheaper when bought in bulk. I like walnuts, almonds, pecans and hazelnuts.
I keep my all-purpose flour in the pantry, but I store whole wheat flour and rye flour in the freezer. These flours have germ oil in them, and, just like nuts, will go rancid over time. Make sure to seal the flour very well or it will absorb the smells and moisture from your freezer. I usually place the package of flour into a thick freezer ziptop bag or a sealed container.
My potassium is always ridiculously low, so bananas are a staple in our house. Even though I do eat most of them, every once in a while, we do get a stray banana that turns brown. Into the freezer it goes.
You can store them in a sealed bag with the peel on or off. Whenever I have enough bananas, I make Banana Bread, Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies or Banana Coffeecake.
When butter goes on sale, I get lots of curious glances at the grocery stores, because I buy several cases of it. I’m not even kidding. I store it in the freezer and we don’t buy butter for a year.
Guess when I buy bacon? That’s right! When it’s on sale:). Are you getting the idea? Do you see how I save lots of money by using my freezer?
Frozen berries have many great uses, but only if you cook them or use them in smoothies, etc. If you want to defrost the berries and eat them fresh, you will be met with a wet, soggy and mushy mess.
Basics of Freezer Cooking:
- If you are freezing a cooked meal or broth, cool it to room temperature before freezing.
- Chicken breast, pork or beef loin/tenderloin and seafood should not be frozen after being cooked. Trust me, it won’t work, unless you like gnawing on dry and rubbery food.
- If the food wasn’t fresh and delicious to start with, it won’t magically become “refreshed” in the freezer. Don’t freeze old leftovers, etc.
- Most foods can be stored in a heavy duty ziptop bag, even soups and broths.
- If you’re using aluminum or glass baking dishes, seal them in a double layer of aluminum foil and then wrap in plastic wrap or a plastic bag.
- Label your meals. I guess it might be fun picking a mystery dinner, but it will be much more convenient to know what’s in that sealed package.
- Fresh fruit or vegetables rarely freeze well. There are exceptions, of course, such as frozen peas or spinach. In most cases, they become limp and watery.
- If it’s meant to be crispy, don’t store it that way. For example: don’t top your casserole with breadcrumbs when you put it in the freezer. Instead, add the breadcrumbs right before you place the casserole in the oven. The bread will be very soggy and you won’t be able to resurrect it. Crispy bacon will becomes limp in the freezer.
- To add a note of freshness to a frozen meal, add fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of cream at the very end, when reheating and just before serving.
- Pasta needs to be under cooked when freezing a meal. Also, add more sauce or liquid than you think it needs. When you reheat the dish, the pasta will absorb some of that liquid and continue cooking as it heats up. Otherwise, your meal will be dry and mushy.
- Don’t freeze anything with potatoes. They become very mealy and mushy when frozen.
- Store the food in portions that you will most likely use in one time. For example, place flavored butter in several portions for one batch of garlic bread each. Store casseroles in amounts that you’re most likely to eat in one dinner. I store lasagna in 8×8 inch casserole dishes, because that’s how much will eat in a day or so. If we have guests, I simply defrost 2 lasagnas. You don’t want to chip away at a frozen meal to get a smaller portion. Or worse, eat that lasagna for a whole week until you can longer even look at it.
- If you defrosted a meal, don’t refreeze it if you don’t use it.
There are many great resources online about Freezer Cooking. Here are a few:
Favorite Freezer Food: This has a handy reference for so may of your freezer questions.
Freezing and Food Safety
I’m sure there are more tips and resources that I can’t think of right now. I’ll keep adding to the list whenever I think of something else or discover something new.
Please share some of your own tips for Freezer Cooking! Are there any tricks that you like to do when stocking your freezer?