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Freezing Ingredients for Later Use

While I typically freeze meat and poultry I rarely freeze other mainstay ingredients like milk or eggs. I’m concerned that these types of ingredients won’t taste the same after refreezing. So when my friend, R, mentioned freezing orange, lemon and lime juice in ice cube trays I was intrigued. She said it’s the perfect way to keep juice on hand for every day recipes as well as specialty drinks like iced tea.

It turns out that you can freeze all sorts of foods I never would have dreamed of, including nuts, cheese, ginger and herbs. While my friend says the flavors change subtly after defrosting she swears the flavor differences aren’t noticeable as long as you use the defrosted ingredients primarily in cooking.

She provided me with a detailed article she came across in All You Magazine. I’ve copied the information from that article into the list below. It includes instructions for freezing milk, citrus, eggs, ginger, nuts and herbs.

  • Milk: Freeze milk in one-cup or one-point portions. Provide extra space in freezer-safe containers, because milk expands when it freezes. Use the frozen milk within 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator, and shake well before using it. Plan to use the milk for cooking or baking, because it typically becomes too grainy to drink after defrosting.
  • Citrus: Freeze the juice in ice-cube trays until solid then transfer to a freezer bag. Thaw at room temperature or in the fridge. You can also freeze the zest by zesting the fruit onto a sheet of plastic wrap, wrapping tightly and placing in a freezer bag.
  • Eggs: Whisk together whites and yolks until just combined. Measure into an ice-cube tray, using 3 Tbsp. of the mixture per segment (3 Tbsp. is equivalent to 1 large egg). Freeze until solid, then transfer cubes to a freezer bag for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge.
  • Ginger: Peel and slice ginger into 1-inch pieces, wrap in plastic and place in a freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature.
  • Nuts: Place nuts in an airtight container, or wrap them tightly in plastic and place in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw at room temperature or in the refrigerator – or, if using them for baking, toss them into a recipe frozen (though you may need to add a few minutes to your baking time).
  • Herbs: For whole sprigs, wash, pat dry with paper towels, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 6 months. Alternatively, chop herbs and place in an ice cube tray. Pour a tablespoon or two of water on top of the herbs and freeze. Transfer cubes to freezer bags; freeze for up to 6 months. To use, simply toss a cube into a skillet when the recipe calls for herbs and let the water cook off.

So what about you? Do you typically freeze surplus food? Do you notice the flavor changes?

Cindy Brick

Monday 22nd of February 2010

I'll freeze milk if I find a great sale on it -- but I don't go to the trouble mentioned in the article. I just pour out about 2 cups of milk, put the top back on, and stuff it in the freezer. It's stayed in there up to two months, and I've never noticed any "graininess," though you do have to shake it up periodically when it's thawing. I also chop peppers, but celery and onions, as well. Freeze them flat on a cookie sheet, or put in a bag and break up the clumps when the food is frozen. Have just gotten into freezing chopped cilantro and other herbs (works great). Strawberries, blueberries, any kind of berry -- these also do so well stuffed on a cookie sheet and frozen flat. (Put in bags to store.)Beans need a quick blanching (so does corn), but are also good. Some breads work, but they (and cookie dough) do much better for me unbaked. I have trouble with baked items, especially bread, being soggy. Maybe it's my freezer, which is old and a little bit decrepit. (Putting off buying another, just like your next post, Frugal Girl!)

Cate

Monday 22nd of February 2010

I frequently freeze ginger (I don't remember where I got this tip, but as soon as I bring it home I grate it, then roll it into a log, wrap it in plastic wrap, and cut off a piece whenever I need fresh ginger), cooked dried beans, fruit, chopped veggies, active dry yeast, granola, bread, muffins, soups...all kinds of things! I love my freezer. Never tried freezing eggs or milk. They don't last long around here!

One Frugal Girl

Sunday 21st of February 2010

Thanks for all the great comments. I definitely plan to expand on the list of freezer foods. I had no idea you could freeze all of these items and still have them taste good!

Liz

Friday 19th of February 2010

I freeze a lot of fruits, herbs and veggies in the summer. It is the quickest way to use everything from the garden, and then I can make soups and pies during the winter. I bake a lot of bread for my daughters school, so when I have banana's that are going bad I throw them whole into the freezer. I also have a bunch of shredded zucchini from last summer, frozen in three cup portions (what I need for one batch of zucchini bread). I just let the bananas and zucchini thaw for about an hour on the counter before I start the bread. I also prepare fruit for pies, then just freeze the fruit. Defrost in the fridge, add to a pie crust and you have a fresh home made pie for Thanksgiving...Christmas... whenever!

Ruby Leigh

Friday 19th of February 2010

I freeze bread - which seems to work pretty well... but I've noticed that the post-thaw shelf life is not as long as the initial shelf life... just something to be aware of.