Don’t waste food unnecessarily.
Many of us use our freezers strictly for ice, liquid packs for emergencies, and maybe some frozen dinners and a bag of peas. But there’s a whole frontier of freezing you can try. Pull these off and impress your family with your home-spun wisdom.
Get dust mites out of stuffed toys by putting them in the freezer for 24 hours. When your child begins sneezing while holding his precious bear, you can avert tragedy!
Did your child get gum on your best office skirt? Before you take it to the dry cleaner, try putting the skirt in the freezer for several hours, until the gum is frozen and you can pop it off the fabric.
Put a pair of new panty hose in the freezer for 24 hours and it becomes less likely to run. Just remember to take the hose out well before you want to wear it, at least in the winter.
Put a candleholder with caked-on wax in the freezer, and it will be easy to pick off the wax after a couple of hours. But forget the old idea that frozen candles take longer to burn down.
If you buy a wooden item at a flea market, beware of wood worms. One trick is to put the object in a plastic bag and leave it in the freezer for two weeks. The cold should kill both the worms and their eggs.
Freeze eyeliner sharpener pencils for an hour before you sharpen them. You’ll get a good point without wasting the product.
Now on to the food. When you’re freezing leftover dinners, try putting portions in plastic bags and flattening them out. This way they’ll be easier to stack in your freezer and defrost more quickly. You might want to make the portions smaller if you’re dieting, or freeze portions for two if you usually eat with your spouse. Always label the food; you can attach a label with a sticky side and write on it with a black marker. Include the date and the name of the food, even if it’s “Johnnie’s accidental bean hash.” Consider cutting meat into strips.
Freeze grapes. You’ll find that both kids and grownups consider these a big treat. Green or red grapes work. Add them to appropriate drinks as non-diluting ice-cubes. Frozen lemon and lime slices also make good ice-cube substitutes.
Make coffee ice cubes to put into tepid coffee and make "iced coffee."
Freeze chunks of ripe bananas and then whip them in food processor. This is a familiar way to make use of bananas you’d otherwise throw away, but the results can be surprisingly good. Add shaved dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips.
You can save many other foods you never think to freeze from the garbage can. That includes cupcakes and loaf cakes, ripe avocados, butter, margarine, hard cheese (though they’ll tend to crumble so you might grate the cheese first), soft bread, skim and semi-skin milk, chopped soft herbs, nuts (in a Ziploc bag), and baked or roasted or mashed potatoes. Leftover red and white wine can be used for cooking, as long as you put it into a non-glass container.
The British food writer Justine Pattison, author of “Freeze: 120 Delicious Recipes and Fantastic New Ways to Use Your Freezer and Make Life Just That Bit Easier,” offers this guide to how long you can expect to keep frozen food:
- Large joints or whole chickens: six months
- Sausages, chicken breasts, meatballs, steaks, and burgers: three months
- Cooked meat, for example, curries and casseroles: two months
Fish and Seafood
- White fish, such as haddock and cod, cooked or raw: three months
- Oily fish, such as mackerel and salmon, and smoked fish, cooked or raw: two months
- Seafood, cooked or raw: one month
- Milk: one 1 month
- Butter (salted): three months
- Butter (unsalted): six months
- Double cream (whip with a little sugar first): three months
- Hard cheese (Cheddar, Cheshire, Parmesan): three months
- Soft cheese (Brie, Camembert, goat’s cheese): three months
- Most vegetables (peas, beans, sweetcorn, broccoli, cauliflower): eight months
- Root vegetables (carrots, parsnips): 10 months
- Mushrooms: three months
- Cooked tomatoes: four months
- Celery, onions, leeks: six months
Most fresh vegetables need to be blanched — scalded in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, cooled under cold water, and dried — before they are frozen, to remove dirt and bacteria and preserve taste, texture, and color.
- Unsweetened, uncooked fresh fruit (such as raspberries, grapes, gooseberries, banana slices): four months
- Fruit stewed with sugar (such as apples, plums, pears, blackberries, apricots, strawberries): eight months
- Uncooked citrus fruit (whole, sliced, grated rind, or juice): ten months
Bread (including pitta, naan, bagels): four weeks
Crusty bread: two weeks
Cupcakes, loaf cakes, sponges — some taste even better after freezing — four months
Pastries (croissants, hot cross buns): three months
Potatoes: three months
December 29, 2015
Janet O’Dell, RN