Friday, May 15, 2009

Food Friday - Freezer Tips

Phil says that I'm the queen of freezing food.

As the Queen, I shall bestow upon you some wonderful tips about things that I've successfully frozen and then used. For me it is largely about convenience. I'm lazy like that.

  • I've already blogged about freezing cheese. See here for that.
  • I've already blogged about freezing fresh chicken strips or breasts so that they aren't all clomped together when you are ready to use them. See here for that. Also, this same concept works for pork chops or steaks or any other kind of meat.
  • Did you know that you can freeze fresh spinach? I wasn't sure so I did a little googling and found that about half the people said "no way!" and the other half were divided in the ways you could do it. Some said to blanch it first, some said it had to be fully cooked, but some said to just buy the washed and dried stuff and stick it in your freezer. I like that idea. I had just purchased a HUGE amount at Sam's Club and was anxious to not waste it. So I pulled out my trusty qt. sized freezer Ziploc (no, I'm not being paid) and made several serving-sized bags and threw them in the freezer. It worked great! Here is the important tip: don't thaw it out. Take it straight from the freezer and steam it immediately. I've made several batches of spinach pasta (see here for a great tutorial and recipe) and it really does work great. You can use it in anything that calls for steamed or cooked spinach. Obviously it doesn't come back well enough to use in a green salad or anything that calls for raw spinach.
  • I hate fatty hamburger. I've been paying the $4/lb for the really lean stuff but then I see the 80% stuff on sale for $1.50/lb and I think, "even when I subtract the weight of the fat it is a better deal." So what is a frugal-and-trying-to-be-healthier girl to do? Well, I bought the 80% and fried up the whole thing (several pounds). Then I drained and RINSED it to get all that yucko fat off. Then I took out the Ziplocs and created several bags of pre-cooked ground beef. This has been AWESME because I can pull it out to make any number of things (tacos, sloppy Joes, spaghetti, pasta bake, etc.) and my meat is already cooked. One less step for me and one less pan to wash for Phil. If this isn't a win/win I don't know what is. I got cheap meat, made it less unhealthy and I get the convenience of pre-cooked meat. Voila! (Oh, I still buy the expensive 95% stuff for those rare times we have hamburgers or some other recipe that won't work with pre-cooked hamburger - like meatloaf or something.)
  • Cottage Cheese freezes pretty well so if you find a good deal on it, stock up and put some in your freezer.
  • Butter freezes just fine so you can stock up on that too when there is a sale.
  • If you grind your own wheat into flour, you should freeze the flour that doesn't get used immediately. It retains the nutrients better in the freezer than at room temperature.
  • Bacon bits (either that you create or if you buy the big bulk bag) can just be kept in the freezer and then used as needed. They will last much longer in the freezer.
  • Yeast should be kept in the freezer and just used from there. This will keep your yeast much fresher and it will perform better for you. While we are on the topic of yeast, I highly recommend Fleishman's Yeast found at Sam's in bricks. I open one brick and dump it into a freezer Ziploc and then keep it in the freezer.
  • Freezer jam: it is so good. My only concern is that it requires so much sugar. I finally found some pectin that uses less. Now I buy Ball Freezer Jam pectin. It takes 1 1/2 C sugar to 4 C berries (instead of equal parts) and it is EXCEEDINGLY easy. Just follow the recipe on the pectin package.
  • My freezer also has lots of frozen veggies. Whenever there is a deal on frozen corn or beans or broccoli (Eden's favorite) or stir fry or whatever, I stock up.
  • Cake freezes great. Make cupcakes and freeze half of them for the next time. (Frosting freezes ok but it is messy so it works best to freeze them before frosting.)
  • Breads and rolls freeze pretty well too. This recipe freezes and then thaws out really great and tastes yummy after freezing too!
  • Pizza dough freezes well. This recipe is the one I use and it makes two pizzas. We don't eat two pizzas at a time and so I take half the dough and put it in a freezer Ziploc (really, no payment) and then I have a pizza crust just waiting to be used. Do not defrost in the microwave though. It will kill the yeast and your dough will be flat and tough. Take the dough out of the freezer at least two hours before you intend to use it.
  • And now, for my number 1 favorite thing in the freezer:
Ice Cream!

What's in your freezer?

3 response(s):

Alisha said...

Thanks for the tips...I definitely am still trying to figure out what works and what doesn't when it comes to freezing.

Layne said...

What's in my freezer? Why, goats, of course!

Cassavaugh Family said...

yes! The burger meat, cook ahead thing has been working well for us for years. I have switched to ground turkey. I got a steal of a deal and bought 12 pounds of ground turkey for roughly $13. It is all nicely cooked and in baggies. Although I admit I did save some of it without cooking and we just enjoyed "crabby patties" as the boys call them from the grill.

Never thought about the cottage cheese. The boys just decided today its good.

Thanks for the tips