Whilst I almost never buy frozen food (other than icecream!), I do use the freezer quite a lot. I eat fresh food most of the time, but the freezer is an excellent way to preserve food and save produce that would otherwise go to waste. It’s also a great way to make sure I have a few out of season favourites to hand for much of the year, or for when I have a glut of something from the garden and don’t want to eat the same vegetable every day for a fortnight! So I had been planning to write a post on my top tips for using the freezer.
Then last week, I attended a lovely event “The Joy of Sustainable Eating” with a number of fellow food bloggers (you can find their details below), and it made me think I should write a little series on my take on sustainable eating; a topic that is huge and varied in its meaning. For me, a large part of seasonal eating is about sustainability: it is positive for the environment (reducing/ eliminating food airmiles, chemicals to preserve fresh food and energy to grow things in forced conditions), it supports local producers/ business/ communities, and it is affordable so positive for my purse! (local produce that is in abundance is cheaper than produce flown across the world out of season!)
But in addition to eating seasonal as much as I can, I am hot on not wasting food. I was always taught to eat everything on my plate (something which hasn’t entirely been positive as I will still eat until I am wayyyy too full to make sure I don’t have any leftovers!) and I am constantly appalled at the statistics around how much food is thrown away by both shops and individuals in this country. So, I am going to start by writing a couple of posts on avoiding food waste, the first focused on my top freezer tips – a brilliant way to save food that would otherwise go to waste!
- Freeze extras/ leftovers: an obvious one perhaps, but I’m not just talking meal leftovers (to be honest, when I do have meal leftovers, I prefer to make them into lunch for the next day, as I’m more likely to use them that way.) I’m actually thinking more about fresh produce/ ingredients. So much is freezable, so whenever you have excess of something, consider freezing it before giving up and chucking it out. Ideally, if you know you won’t get through a whole cauliflower/ bag of spinach/pack of herbs, then keep what you will use in the fridge and freeze the rest as soon as you get it while it is still at its freshest.
- Make breadcrumbs: another great item to freeze when you have it leftover is bread. Don’t chuck out the ends no one wants or as it goes stale (although if it is growing mould it’s not worth keeping!), but stick it in a food processor to make into breadcrumbs and freeze them. Great to make breaded fish/meat, adding to salads, crumbles or for homemade burgers etc, you will find breadcrumbs have numerous uses. On the bread front, I also always make pizza dough and pitta breads in large batches so I have extra to freeze. Pittas are especially good as you can defrost them in the toaster immediately before you want to eat them.
- Freeze produce when it is cheap and seasonally available: I do try my best to eat seasonal most of the time, but there are a few things I love to have out of season too! Summer berries are a great example. They freeze really well, so I stock up when they are cheap, widely available and still full of flavour at the end of the summer and they last well into winter. Whilst they aren’t as good as fresh berries, for cooking and smoothies they are absolutely perfect and it is far better than buying berries that have been flown half way round the world and taste of next to nothing because they are out of season.
- Freeze wine: whenever you have a bit left in the bottle that is otherwise just going to sit in your fridge, freeze wine in mini portions. I use ice cube trays (just make sure you label them!) It is brilliant to have to hand to add to stocks/ sauces/ risotto etc for a bit of extra flavour
- Make extra of sauces/ pesto and freeze in individual portions: sometimes it is easier to make larger quantities of sauce/ pesto (especially if you are cooking for one), and these are prime freezing candidates. Again, I use ice cube trays for pesto, which make perfect individual size portions that you can just mix straight into freshly cooked pasta. No more half empty jars of bought pesto going mouldy at the back of the fridge!
What are your top freezer tips? Leave a comment or come and find me on social media to let me know!
Thanks so much to Meredith, Ceri, Lorna and Chloe for your inspiration at The Joy of Sustainable Eating event. Do check out these wonderful ladies’ blogs for further tips on sustainable eating, and eating well in general!