The freezer can be your best friend when it comes to preventing unnecessary food waste at home.
Food waste continues to be a serious problem, with an estimated 30 to 40 percent of food intended for human consumption going to landfill. While some of the spoilage occurs in the field and during processing and transportation to supermarkets, the vast majority happens in refrigerators, where too many items end up languishing till they rot, at which point they get tossed in the trash.
Before that happens, learn to use your freezer as effectively as possible. It acts like a giant ‘pause’ button, preserving foods for later consumption. While it is recommended to eat frozen foods within three months, it doesn’t mean they will go bad; they may just require some flavor boosters to taste good. (via Love Food Hate Waste)
Did you know you can freeze almost anything? This was news to me. I used to think there were clear rules about what should go into the freezer and what should not. It turns out, that’s not the case. I am a fan of freezing without plastic, which is why I do not recommend any freezer bags or plastic wrap in the following directions.
Here are some foods that you probably never knew were great for freezing:
Mushrooms: Brush off any dirt, trim the bottoms, and slice thinly. Lay on a baking sheet in single layer, freeze for 2 hours, then transfer to airtight container.
Avocadoes: Cut in half, remove stone, and freeze in airtight container. Or scoop out flesh, mash with a bit of lemon or lime juice, and freeze for nearly-ready guacamole.
Coffee: Don’t dump it down the drain! Pour into an ice cube tray until frozen solid, then transfer to an airtight container or glass jar. Thaw out small quantities for baking or to boost iced coffee when the weather warms up.
Wine: Got some leftover dregs in a bottle that’s been sitting on the counter too long? Freeze in an ice cube tray, then transfer to a container. Use for cooking.
Eggs: You can freeze eggs as long as you beat them or separate the whites and yolks into separate containers. Read Melissa’s more detailed directions here.
Fresh herbs: Some weeks it’s hard to use up an entire bunch of cilantro or parsley before it starts turning black and slimy. Finely chop and freeze as-is, mixed with olive oil in an ice cube tray, or blended into pesto. The same goes for fresh ginger. If using fresh basil, you must blanch for 1 min before chopping and freezing. The plain, fresh herbs need to be thawed before using, but the olive oil cubes can get tossed in a pan or pot of soup/stew.
Garlic: Peel fresh garlic cloves and freeze whole in an airtight container. It’s actually easier to chop (less sticky) when still partially frozen.
Potatoes: Mashed potatoes freeze best, but you can also freeze potatoes that have boiled for 5 minutes, then toss them in a baking pan to roast once removed from the freezer.
Milk: You can freeze cartons, jugs, and the plastic bags in which milk is sold in Canada. Alternatively, pour into an ice cube tray and transfer cubes to a container once solid. Same goes for cream, buttermilk, and yogurt.
Chips: Don't let a bag of chips go stale. Pop it in the freezer and let defrost for a few minutes before eating.
Organic and/or natural nut butters: If you've stocked up because of a sale, store in the freezer if you won't be eating it within a couple months. You can also freeze opened jars of nut butter.
Cooked pasta and rice: Freeze leftovers in an airtight container, defrost, and reheat with a few tablespoons of water. Alternatively, you can place the frozen pasta in a colander and pour boiling water over to thaw and heat simultaneously. Add sauce and you're ready to go. It's also possible to partially cook arborio rice, freeze, and then continue cooking later to make risotto.
Diced onion and celery: Freeze chopped fresh onions and celery in small portions to make easy additions to soups and curries. They will require some extra browning time to get rid of additional moisture.