Your freezer is one of the most useful and convenient appliances in the house.
With a little common sense, it makes your culinary life easy, saves
time, and probably will save you money.
To make the
most of the freezer, keep a list of what is in it — and plan to use the frozen
food in a reasonable period of time. This means cooking frozen meat within four
to six months, and vegetables within two or three.
some ways you may not have considered to make the most of the freezer.
What to do with egg whites when
you're using only the yolks? Freeze them in a plastic container. Later you can use them to add volume to a meringue, make an
angel food cake, or a healthful egg white omelet. Be sure to indicate on
the container just how many egg whites it holds, which will make future
Butter freezes beautifully and
it’s always a good idea to have an extra pound on hand in the freezer. If
you want to serve fancy pats of butter for a dinner party, make them ahead
of time and hold them in the freezer. Use an elegant decorator tip on a
plastic bag to squeeze pretty shapes of softened butter onto a small tray. Freeze the
pats on the tray and then transfer to a plastic bag for longer freezing.
One way to keep brown sugar
from getting hard is to store it in the freezer in a plastic bag.
When your bananas turn brown
and soft and you don’t have time to make banana bread, mash them up. Put the pulp
in plastic containers, with the amounts clearly marked, and freeze the
fruit until you have time to bake. If you prefer, peel the bananas and
freeze them whole in plastic bags.
So often recipes call for two
or three tablespoons of tomato paste or something similar and you’re left
with perishable soft food and nothing to do with it. Instead of tossing
it, measure the amount you use in a recipe onto pieces of plastic wrap and
freeze on a baking sheet. When solid, wrap each portion with the plastic
wrap and put the little bundles in a zipped freezer bag.
Blocks of cheese don’t freeze
particularly well, and grated cheese turns into an unappetizing blob in
the freezer. Here’s a solution: Grate the cheese, put it in a zipped
freezer bag, leaving several inches at the top. Sprinkle a small amount of
cornstarch in the bag and shake until all the cheese is coated. The exact
amount doesn’t matter because the cornstarch is tasteless and won’t affect
the cheese’s flavor. When you
need it, measure out what you need and return the rest to the freezer.
You’ll never have a glob of cheese again.
When you want to freeze a lot
of something, like hamburger patties, chicken breasts and legs, or several pork
chops, lay the separate pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet and put
it in the freezer in the coldest part of the box. This will quick freeze
the food in a relatively short time. Put the frozen food in a freezer bag
and stash the bag in the freezer. Like magic, the pieces of food will never stick
together so you can easily access them.
Chopping nuts is always a
nuisance, particularly when you are in the middle of a recipe. When you
have a little extra time, chop a pound or more of nuts, transfer them to a
tightly sealed container and they will be ready when you want them.
Chopped nuts thaw quickly and so are easy to use, even at the last minute.
______________________________________________________________________ Selma Roth is a freelance writer based in Salem, Oregon.