All freezer containers are labelled with the contents and date of storage.
I mainly use plastic ‘take-away’ type containers, which come in several sizes.
It is essential that any leftovers used from the freezer should be thoroughly heated through so they are piping hot before serving.
My stock of useful odds and ends – in boxes & ice cubes
Breadcrumbs -freeze regularly, using up loaf ends. (The deep containers hold about 8ozs each.)
Parmesan – (I buy Grano Padano, cheaper than Reggiano and I don’t recognise the difference.) Once a packet is open, grate and store if you think you will not use it before it starts to deteriorate.
Hard Cheese – Grated cheese stores well for use in recipes. A good way of storing any cheese that is leftover before it deteriorates.
Butter – As we do not use butter on a daily basis, a packet would go rancid before it was finished. I now buy a packet and divide into small portions – I get about 32 x ¼oz chunks. Line container with wrapper (which has purchase date) and place chunks so not touching before freezing. Use whenever a recipe calls for a small amount of butter.
Chocolate – A bar of cooking chocolate can be grated and stored if you have had it for some time and it might deteriorate.
Chorizo – I buy the long thin type and cut into 2oz lengths. Gently defrost as needed.
Coriander – wash, dry and chop. The contents are brittle and can be used both in and on top of recipes, although for sprinkling on top fresh coriander is obviously best.
Garlic – Freeze individual cloves. Defrosted cloves are soft and easier to chop finely, so I prefer frozen to fresh!
Ginger – Freeze in recipe sized (1inch) chunks. When needed just peel and use. Can easily be finely grated when slightly defrosted.
Chillis – Freeze whole and use as needed.
Celery – Cut into chunks before freezing and use a handful in soups and stews as required. (If a recipe calls for a stick of celery then I guess how many chunks that might be!)
Lemon Grass – Peel and chop.
Lemon & Lime – If you have a part lemon or lime you will not use quickly wipe and cut it into pieces (suggest a whole lemon is cut into 8 and lime into 4). These can be used as lemon/lime ice cubes to flavour water or drinks.
– Squeezed juice can be frozen in ice cube trays.
Herbs – chopped herbs can be frozen in a small amount of water in an ice cube tray. Put straight into cooking pot.
Garlic & Ginger – puree together (you have to do a fairly large quantity) and freeze in ice cube trays. Add direct to pot for Asian style food.
Other Freezer items
Vegetables – I freeze these uncooked (without any prior preparation) for use in recipes. I have had no problems with chopped root vegetables, with the exception of potatoes, aubergine, peppers and tomatoes. Cooked vegetables can be used in soups – see above.
If you find a tomato that is slightly soft, or has got squashed in transit from the market, just pop it in the freezer until you make your next batch of chutney.
Fruit – I freeze these both uncooked and cooked. Uncooked fruits should be frozen unwashed. Berry fruits freeze well, with the exception of Strawberries, which when defrosted are only really usable in cooking or jellies. Thrifty tip: A glut of apples in the Autumn can be peeled, sliced and frozen. Blackberries and other fruit from the Autumn hedgerow also freeze well – I use the containers mentioned above. If you are fortunate enough to find Sloes make sure you pick enough to make Sloe Gin for Christmas: they freeze well and can be kept for ensuing years
Rice – I have heard it said that cooked Rice should not be frozen, but I have been doing this for years with no ill effect. However I do think it essential to observe the ‘heat until piping hot before serving’ rule.
Cooked Pasta – I have never frozen this as there is never any left in our house! I am sure it would be fine – I once saw it for sale frozen in the supermarket.
Home-made Pasta – This freezes well.
Pastry – When making Shortcrust pastry, any that is left over can be frozen for later re-use, although it should not have been rolled out more than once. It is not as good as freshly made but could be used for a quick family pie bottom or crust. Multi-rolled pastry and any further leftovers should be donated to the birds!
Crumble Mix – When making sweet crumble topping make double or triple required and freeze in portions for later use. Can be used to top any fruit straight from freezer to oven.
Milk – Can be frozen but does not taste the same when defrosted, so although bearable, it is better for cooking than drinking.
Wine – I have only ever seen notes saying you cannot freeze wine, but I do so regularly. This is a great way to use up the end of a bottle, unless you have a Vac-u-Vin and drink it later. It does not freeze fully because of the alcohol content and tends to freeze into a semi-hard granular ‘slush’. I have used it successfully in cooking, for example using Red as an addition to an extra special lasagne.
Stocks – Freeze in containers. Ham stock can be salty so may need to be used ½ and ½ with water or other liquid.
Egg whites – Great for freezing for meringues at a later date. Label with date and number of whites.
(Cooked vegetables/Stock/Leftover meat/Leftover gravy/Rice …)
Freeze mixed in containers and combine as required, if necessary with water and/or items from the fridge or storecupboard (milk, potato, soup size pasta/small macaroni, tinned tomatoes, red lentils & other pulses, spices …) I do not find that potato freezes successfully.
Make Double the quantity (or more) of tried and trusted favourites for defrosting and serving quickly when you are short of time. Freeze either in individual portions or a quantity to serve the whole family.
Make a large quantity of a basic item, such as Beef Mince and onions and divide into several portions, each big enough to turn into a family favourite in extra quick time. It is rare for a meat stew recipe not to include onion, but I suggest you don’t add herbs or anything else as other ingredients that go with the dish you choose to make later can be added as needed. For example, one pot of basic mince and onion could later be turned into Chilli-con-Carne, Shepherds Pie or Bolognaise sauce, etc.