Stuff you didn’t even know you could freeze. Stuff you maybe even shouldn’t freeze. And yet, it’s STUFF I FREEZE.
Being on any diet – even a crappy diet – is much easier and cheaper when you make extensive use of your freezer (for instance, you can totally freeze scones (baked or unbaked), brownie batter, and other yummy Cheat Day items!). Here are some little-known facts about just what your freezer will willingly accept.
Stuff to Chop, Bag, and Freeze:
(use within a couple months, if you want to retain any semblance of flavor in your food)
- Celery – I learned this the hard way. My fridge was too cold, my celery got funky, and in a moment of frustration, I shoved the WHOLE HEAD OF CELERY into my freezer. Gracias a Santa Marta (here, btw, is a funny page on Saints of the Kitchen!), it turns out that celery is totally fine in the freezer, as long as you cook with it (it gets floppy bc of the whole cell wall rupture thing, I think).
- Not only that, but you can literally just throw the whole thing in there, and, when you are ready to use a piece, just pull it off, chop it up, and cook with it!
- If you have time, it’s more efficient to chop up the entire head of celery ahead of time, bag it, and freeze it.
- Carrots – I learned this the exact same way I learned that celery was a great freezer keep. Only, you probably don’t want to chop a frozen carrot (does that even SOUND like a good idea?!). So, chop, bag, and freeze ahead of time. Then, just pull out a handful when you want. They taste fine, as long as you cook with them.
- You can eat thawed carrots raw, but the texture is a wee bit funky.
- Onions – THOU SHALT FREEZE THINE ONIONS. SERIOUSLY. Here’s the trick. When you get an onion (or, when you receive a 10LB bag of onions from your caring, if overzealous, sister), do the following:
- Cut onion in half. Then, slice each half into half-rounds about the width of your pinky finger. Bag and freeze. When needed, remove desired amount, chop into smaller pieces (or just break them with your hands for a sense of utter satisfaction and Godzilla-like strength).
- YOU WILL NEVER CRY (from an onion) AGAIN! Thawed onions can go into marinated salads, and any dish you intend to cook, but again, they’re not great for raw usage.
- Cabbage – I’ll give you one guess how I figured this one out. Yep, that’s right, during the Week of the Terrible Fridge Incident (the WTF Incident, for short). It turns out, frozen cabbage kinda sucks unless you are cooking with it. And it makes an excellent source of fiber for slow-cooker FOOD.
- Berza (also called collard greens) – This, I actually just figured out on my own because I am awesome. And because my first thought after buying produce is “I wonder if this will still be awesome once frozen and thawed?”
- Wash, cut into oreo-cookie-sized pieces (can you tell what I’m REALLY wanting to eat?!), and sautee with some sliced garlic, olive oil, and spices. Let it cool, and bag it up in smallish portions.
- Defrost and reheat to make a nice side dish or a great addition to soup!
- Lemon slices – These are great for iced drinks. Slice them with the rind on, and try not to keep them in the fridge too long, or they’ll get bitter. Still, it’s a good idea when they’re on sale!
- Spinach – I do this when the spinach is starting to look a little old. That way, when I thaw it out, it will ALL have that nasty limp aura, and I won’t even know which were the “good” or the “bad” pieces to begin with!
- Rosemary, Thyme – I don’t know about Parsley and Sage yet. 😉 Long story short, wash them, chop them roughly, and divide them up into portions for cooking (if you’re cooking for one, the portions should be smaller, etc.). Line a muffin tin with plastic wrap. Put the portions of the herbs in the muffin tin. Pour olive oil over them (not a ton, just as much as you’d want to cook with). Pop them in the freezer and about two hours later, you’ve got yummy herb cubes! You can stick these in a plastic bag and put them away for the winter. It’s kinda like magic, only better.
Stuff to Cook, Bag, and Freeze:
(Oh, and don’t make yourself sick – if something has meat, or dairy, or, well ANYTHING in it, maintain proper hygiene and food safety standards. Pretty please. With cherries on top. And whip cream. And dulce de leche. ;-P )
- Beans – I try really hard not to waste my money on canned beans (unless they’re baked beans or refried beans, because we all know those are WAY better left to the experts – or to my aunts – to make). As it turns out, you can totally cook dry beans without soaking them for 2.83901 light years (which is what “overnight” feels like – admit it!).
Quick Method for Soaking Beans
This is the easiest and quickest method and the one I use most often. The beans won’t be quite as tender as with the long soak though. Place the cleaned beans in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover them by a couple inches.
Set the saucepan over medium-high flame and bring the water to a boil. Cover the pan tightly with a lid, remove it from the heat and set aside for about an 1 hour. Drain the soaking water and continue with your recipe. Note: Don’t drain the soaking water of black beans or they’ll turn a dingy gray. (Me: and cause it’s delicious and it makes a nice gravy to carry all those spices!!!)
- Chicken breast – Well, any part of the chicken, really. The most effective way I’ve found to do this is to just plop the chicken breasts in a glass baking dish and cover it with a lid, or at least tin foil (and save the tin foil, it makes an excellent hat!). Bake at 350degrees Fahrenheit and poke w/ a knife occasionally. When the juice runs clear, cut one in half, and if it’s not Lisa Frank pink in the middle, it’s probably fine (though use a meat thermometer if you have any doubts…because we all keep those around, right?)*. Let it cool, break it up into bite-sized chunks, pack it in portion-sized baggies (or just freeze in a single layer, so the chicken doesn’t become BRICK O’ CHICKEN), and voila! Freezer-ready! With no flavor! (or rather, flavor “blanque” – ready to season!)
*In fact, my meat thermometer is serving as a cute little stabbing post for keeping my grocery receipts together. It seems to get more use that way.
Stuff to JUST. FREEZE.
- Quinoa (cooked)
- Rice (freeze it while it’s still warm, otherwise it will lose all its moisture!!!)
- Cookies (baked and unbaked, though unbaked cookies taste SO good that they’ll probably not last).
- Skim Milk (and probably higher fat milk, too, but I’ve only tried skim. Just be sure to shake before using).
- Cake (If there is any left. If we’re talking about my freezer, there will not be.)
- Scones (baked and unbaked)
- Coffee grounds and Tea leaves – the oils stay nice and fragrant for a LOT longer if you do this.
- Sweetened Coffee for iced coffee – Let the sugar melt in the hot coffee, then freeze in ice cube trays. I mean, seriously. Ice cubes made of coffee, to put in your coffee? GENIUS.