Love Thy Freezer

Why the freezer needs to become your new best mate in the kitchen.
The freezer is not only a home for oven chips. Use it wisely and it'll be your best friend.
The freezer is not only a home for oven chips. Use it wisely and it'll be your best friend.

Hey MOB - it’s Soph. Today I’m going to convince you why the freezer needs to become your new kitchen best mate.

Frozen food has gotten a pretty bad rep as the naughty, unhealthy anthesis to homemade ‘fresh’ cooking we all love. Sure the freezer is home to our oven chips, it’s also a genius storage space that can help us combat food waste, make our lives easier, and keep food fresher for longer.

Freezing food is by far the easiest way to cut down your food waste. Whether you’ve cooked too big a portion or you’re unable to use up that hummus in the fridge, the answer is to whack it in the freezer. Yep, even hummus.

What Can I Freeze?

You can pretty much freeze anything aside from soft greens, such as salad leaves, or anything with a super high water content, like a cucumber, as they tend to turn to mush when defrosted.

Some of our favourite foods to freeze:

  • Bread. Slice before freezing then toast straight from frozen. It tastes just as good as fresh and it means you’ll never have to worry about being unable to finish a loaf again. The same applies for pittas, bagels, crumpets...
  • Woody herbs. All woody herbs (rosemary, thyme, bay and even parsley stalks) freeze super well and can be used straight from frozen.
  • Dairy. Well wrapped, all dairy freezes super well meaning you’ll never have to throw away the dredges again.
  • Potatoes. When buying a bag it’s almost inevitable to have some leftovers. Save from going off: peel and boil leftover potatoes until tender then drain, once cool freeze. They can be roasted straight from frozen or chucked into curries and stews.
  • Chillies. Freeze then grate straight from frozen into your food. Genius.
  • Bananas. If your bananas are on the turn peel, wrap and freeze. Blitz from frozen into smoothies or make your own vegan ‘ice cream’. I’d recommend a ‘Chunky Monkey’: blitz a frozen banana with a big spoonful of peanut butter until ice cream consistency, top with chopped dark chocolate.

Aside from stopping food waste, freezing food literally FREES up your life. However much you love cooking there comes a time when you just can’t be arsed. In that moment getting something out of the freezer to reheat is about as smug as it gets.

Banana and peanut butter ice cream made from your frozen bananas. Simple and delicious.
Banana and peanut butter ice cream made from your frozen bananas. Simple and delicious.

Time For A Batch Cook

Feel this sense of satisfaction by having a little batch cook. In my eyes this doesn’t mean a whole day dedicated to cooking and syphoning meals away, although if that’s your jam then you do you. Instead, I often cook the recipe for four even when I am serving two because I know that means two future meals in the freezer.

Key here is a bit of organisation or you’ll end up playing freezer roulette, reheating an unlabelled lamb curry having mistaken it for the pasta ragu you wanted. Not the end of the world; easily avoided by a quick sharpie. A little label and date helps you know what you’ve got in and what to use up first. Ideally you want to eat things within 6 months.

Next buy some reusable freezer bags. Silicone, whilst more expensive, are the most durable and long-lasting. Bags are ideal because they lay flat and you can pile more things on top of each other. Depending on how much space you’ve got you can also use tupperware. I always save takeaway containers for this purpose.

Whatever you use you want to make sure your food is properly covered to avoid freezer burn (thin white covering of ice on the food itself). Food with freezer burn is safe to eat it just dries out making it not as tasty.

In terms of defrosting a few hours at room temp will do the trick or use a microwave on defrost.

Batch cooking and organisation will leave you feeling like the smuggest sustainable chef. Give it a go.
Batch cooking and organisation will leave you feeling like the smuggest sustainable chef. Give it a go.

What Are The Only Rules?

When it comes to the freezer there are two golden rules:

  • Reheat everything until it is piping hot
  • Don’t refreeze

Simple.

Lastly, you might be thinking that food from the freezer never tastes as good. All lies.

Take frozen peas, the one food that we all agreeably eat from frozen. We know that peas are picked at their peak freshness then frozen for prime taste. Well that’s the same with all berries, the only difference being that the peas had better advertising.

For the most part, if its reheated/cooked properly you’ll never be able to tell the difference. In fact I can almost guarantee that something you’ve eaten in a restaurant has been previously frozen. The freezer isn’t the enemy, it’s our best method of preservation and chefs have been in on that trick forever. Now it’s our turn.

Soph x

Become A Sustainable Chef

For more ways on how to use interchangeable ingredients and combat food waste, check out our latest book Earth MOB. It’s jam packed with practical advice on how to be better in the kitchen.

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