Thursday, July 25, 2013

Freeze for Later

Two things carried me through this move, when I knew dinner would come from the freezer, and be served on paper plates-tinfoil, and freezer paper. What follows are some techniques for having food ready-to-heat when life gets busy.


After the first rise of your dough, sprinkle paper plates generously with cornmeal. Stretch out dough. Add sauce, and cheese. Cut a round of freezer paper to fit the surface of the pizza (I prefer individual sized pizzas, but you could use a large, cardboard round instead). Place it shiny side down. Seal entire pizza in foil tightly. Stack pizzas, then store in 2 gallon freezer bags (that should fit about 8-10 pizzas). To bake, unwrap, remove freezer paper, and paper plate. Place pizzas on a baking sheet and bake at 500 degrees F. for about 15 minutes. Add toppings in last 5 minutes if you like.


In a pinch, store-bought tins of chili beans work great straight from the tin, and are usually seasoned OK. I've used leftover rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted vegetables-anything goes here. Contrary to all the advice I've read concerning freezing, I add cheese, and a dollop of sour cream, and it works just fine. Sometimes I add a dash of hot sauce as well. The ingredients can go in cold, but the tortillas should be warmed as they wrap easier. Once you have your burrito rolled, wrap it tightly in wax paper, then tightly in cling film. When you go to microwave them, remove the cling film, and use the wax paper as a steamer. Parchment works ok as well, but costs more. Don't use freezer paper for this-it isn't heat proof.


Tamales should be fully cooked, and cooled before freezing.

Those can be wrapped either in parchment, or in a pinch, coffee filters. As they are steamed, this works well. I've had good luck microwaving them. If you choose to bake them on a sheet, do about 20 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Dumplings, ravioli, gnocchi, etc.:

Freeze uncooked, on a plate first, then transfer to freezer paper in serving sizes. Fold them securely closed, then tape, and label the number of servings contained. It seems silly, but knowing exactly how many ravioli you have is helpful for planning. Store the packets in large freezer bags.

Breads, pastry:

I dislike freezer bags for bread. For loaves, wrap first in wax paper, then in cling film. Keep breads covered as they defrost to prevent them drying out. For pastry, use the freezer paper-being able to pull out four sweet rolls at a time on a weekend morning is really great. For pastry, doughnuts, and sweets, avoid icing them before freezing, doing this instead before serving. Bagels can be stacked, and rolled together in freezer paper, taped tightly shut. These make tidy parcels in the freezer.

Other hints:

Those mini snack sized zipper bags are perfect for single servings of tomato, pesto, etc. Keep some handy for quick, Pizza Bagels.

Ball jars are great for freezing fruit curds, juice, and pureed fruit. Remember to leave double the typical headspace as things expand in the freezer.

You can freeze milk right in the paper carton. I know this because my grandmother saved her individual cartons of milk they served with meals at the retirement centre. She didn't like milk, so she saved them for me. I'd come back from a visit with a month's worth of frozen milk because she was still traumatised by war rationing. She saved the sugar packets for my dad to have in his coffee. We'd get a month's worth of those as well. It didn't seem odd, as we had a pair of aunts that still had stockings and lipstick they'd hoarded during the war. The point is, you can freeze milk, and if it separates a bit, just stir it and all will be well.

Popcorn should not be frozen. In the old days, it helped retain moisture, but newer, self-defrosting fridges suck all the moisture out. I think that's a small price to pay for not needing to thaw the damned freezer-I hated that.

I'm slowly re-building my stash of frozen meals/breads/etc. If you're cooking anyway, why not make a bit more, and freeze some? I don't know how I would have made it through the last month without my freeze3r.

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