Your freezer isn’t just a place to keep vodka and a bag of frozen peas. Use it wisely and it’s your greatest ally
Fulfil your freezer’s potential.
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.
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.
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.
Freeze with sheets of baking paper between each rasher for easy separation. The same goes for burgers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.