Matt Pre­ston:

Shares his tips for get­ting the most out of the freezer.

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TASSIE LIVING - MATT PRE­STON

IF THE oven is your best friend in the kitchen, then the freezer is that friend you turn to when you are in trou­ble. Here are a dozen things that you can keep there that will pro­vide a quick meal when there’s noth­ing in the fridge or help re­vive a lack­lus­tre dish.

PRAWNS

A packet of frozen prawns can help you MacGyver your way out of all man­ner of culi­nary predica­ments, but do buy snap-frozen green prawns and never re­freeze any “frozen for your con­ve­nience” seafood.

COOKED RICE

This is an­other ex­cel­lent thing to freeze for con­ve­nience, and makes whip­ping up fried rice a dod­dle. Spread it out to cool be­fore putting it in the freezer. Make sure you pack it in flat and thin, as the big­ger sur­face area will mean it de­frosts quicker; about the thick­ness of this fine news­pa­per (with its com­pelling mag­a­zine sup­ple­ments), I’d sug­gest.

BA­CON

Freeze with sheets of bak­ing pa­per be­tween each rasher for easy sep­a­ra­tion. The same goes for burg­ers.

MEAT

The is­sue with stor­ing meat is the time a hunk of flesh takes to thaw, so bet­ter to freeze chicken breasts separately for por­tion con­trol and quicker de­frost­ing; or freeze raw cubed meat al­ready in it’s mari­nade. De­frost this in the fridge overnight for best re­sults.

FISH

This ei­ther needs to be eaten within 24 hours of buy­ing it or it should be frozen. Fish de­frosts fairly quickly (es­pe­cially if frozen as sep­a­rate fil­lets), and you can keep oily fish like sal­mon for up to two months be­fore us­ing and other fish up to three months. So name and date any­thing you put in the freezer.

BANANAS

Over-ripe bananas are magic. Blitz them and they turn into the most vir­tu­ous quick ice cream. Just peel them and break them up be­fore freez­ing. Yes, you can use them in your ba­nana bread as well.

GRAPES

When frozen, grapes don’t just make a re­fresh­ing lit­tle snack, they can also dou­ble as ice cubes that won’t di­lute your sau­vi­gnon blanc while you drink it in front of the fire.

COOKIE DOUGH

Bis­cuits freeze well, too, but can­nier is to freeze salami-sized lengths of cookie dough that you can slice with a bread knife and bake to or­der when friends drop round un­ex­pect­edly for a cof­fee.

HARD CHEESE

Parme­san or the like can be stored whole or grated, with the process only marginally im­pact­ing on tex­ture. Use a fine grater like a Mi­croplane to grate pretty much straight from the freezer in emer­gen­cies. Bear this in mind when mak­ing a trek out to a bulk Ital­ian su­per­mar­ket where large chunks of good parme­san is cheaper.

DUMPLINGS

I buy mine by the dozen from the lo­cal dumpling cafe for rainy days when I can’t be both­ered to walk down there. Frozen Mal­tese pas­tizzi are also good and make a great scratch meal with some of those frozen peas!

EX­CESS IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

It’s a com­mon oc­cur­rence to chop up more in­gre­di­ents than we use. But that ginger, spare zest, chill­ies or those lime leaves can all be wrapped in cling film and stored in a la­belled and dated zip-lock bag in the freezer un­til you need them again. Then, when you use them, they are chopped and ready to go.

STOCK, JUICE & HERBS

The best way to freeze spare stock and citrus juices is in ice cube trays. Pop out the cubes when frozen, then pack in a la­belled zip-lock bag. With those ex­pen­sive left­over herbs, chop them, fill each pocket of the ice cube tray twothirds full with the herbs and top up with olive oil be­fore freez­ing. Then de­cant as above. Chuck in a frozen cube or two to what­ever braise or sauce needs a flavour su­per­charge. For my full list of 24 things to keep in your freezer, go to de­li­cious.com.au

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