[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] R[/dropcap]ecently there was an outbreak of Hepatitis in Australia that stemmed from people eating contaminated frozen berries.
Since I’m a bit of a hermit, I wouldn’t have known about the berry recall if it weren’t for my news-savvy Irishman.
Fortunately we didn’t have any problem berries in the freezer. Which was unusual but it’s been peak berry season here so I’ve been making the most of the abundance of fresh berries at the farmers market.
Anyway it got me thinking about my freezer and how much I love it.
I’m always teaching my online cooking students the value of a well stocked pantry. And I firmly believe your pantry isn’t just for shelf-stable ingredients. Your fridge and freezer are equally important.
So today I went and had a good poke around my freezer. Here’s what I found…
7 Things I (pretty much) Always Have in the Freezer
1. Ice Cream.
In our house we usually only have dessert on a Saturday night so we like to go all out! My favourite is vanilla ice cream because it goes so well with pretty much any dessert AND you can customize or ‘pimp’ it to suit your mood.
I’m so glad that Fergal doesn’t take after his mamma when it comes to peas. I’m not the biggest fan but he LOVES them. His dinners often start with ‘parmesan peas’ – frozen peas defrosted in a frying pan with a little butter and served with some grated parmesan. I also have some corn and broad beans but these are less frequent inhabitants.
Until I read the GMO comments on my blog post about edamame, I had them on high rotation but am currently reconsidering. Am planning a blog post to fill you in on that story.
3. Cooked Rice.
I don’t always have cooked rice in the freezer but since Fergal loves the fried rice recipe below, I’m keeping it more and more. I also often have cooked beans or chickpeas frozen in zip lock bags because it’s easier to soak and cook a big batch.
The biggest drawer in our freezer is usually full of different meat because I like to shop less frequently. There’s usually some sausages, steaks, a larger piece of meat like brisket or ribs and some sort of chicken.
I also keep a ziplock bag for bones for stock that I fill as we go. I used to think it was too much hassle but every time I make the stock, I feel so virtuous for not wasting all those bones that it’s become a habit.
We don’t eat much bread. It’s usually a Saturday treat for my Irishman. So I slice his sourdough and keep it in a ziplock bag. For Fergal and me I keep a sliced loaf of Deek’s gluten-free bread made from quinoa.
6. Egg Whites.
I love love love home made mayo on my poached eggs in the morning so I make a batch about once a fortnight. Which generates a lot of egg whites. Sometime I eat them as an egg white omelet but usually I pop them in the freezer in a ziplock bag. Apart from these potato rosti and my mum’s pavlova, I’m a bit short on egg white recipes, so if you have one, please share!
7. Yoghurt Starter Culture.
It’s hard to beat home made yoghurt! Most times I use the previous batch to ‘seed’ my new yoghurt but I keep my freeze dried starter culture in the freezer for when I forget to save some. I’ve had it for almost 2 years and it’s still going strong.
What about you?
Anything you always keep a stash of in your freezer? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below…
Fergal’s Egg & Pea Fried Rice
Like a lot of toddlers, Fergal has a healthy distrust of anything green. Fortunately he’s a fan of peas so I’ve been keeping a stash in the freezer. I also keep some cooked rice so I can whip up this dish when I need a quick dinner for him. I should mention it’s one of my Irishman’s faves as well so a good one for keeping the whole family happy!
Enough for: 2-3
Takes: 15 minutes
3 cups (360g / 12oz) cooked rice
2 handfuls peas
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 green onions (scallions), chopped (optional)
1. Heat a large frying pan on a medium high heat. Whisk eggs in a bowl.
2. Add a splash of oil to the pan and then the eggs. Cook for about 30 seconds and then stir. Cook for another 30 seconds and stir again. Keep cooking and stirring until the eggs are almost set. Put egg on a clean plate.
3. Return the pan to the heat and add more oil. Stir fry the rice and peas until everything is hot and the rice is just starting to brown a little.
4. Remove from the heat and add the soy sauce. Taste and add more soy if needed.
5. Stir in the egg and green onion (if using) and serve hot.
low GI – use basmati rice or cooked quinoa or see the paleo option.
to cook the rice – bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add rice and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain well then cool. Refrigerate or freeze until you’re ready to use.
hot – add some chopped red or green chilli with the peas or serve with chilli oil or your favourite hot sauce at the table.
more veg – feel free to add chopped red peppers (capsicum), snow peas, sugar snap peas, carrots, corn kernels, green beans, or asparagus. Anything that works in a stir fry is good.
vegan – replace egg with a few generous handful of roasted peanuts or cooked lentils or beans.
carnivore – brown some chopped bacon before adding the peas and rice. Or toss in a few handfuls of cooked chicken.
paleo – replace rice with grated raw cauliflower (about 1/2 cauli).
herby – serve with coriander (cilantro), mint or basil leaves on top.
ps. Have you seen my print book, ‘5-Ingredients 10-Minutes’?
For all the details go to:
My son also loved peas as a toddler. In fact, his favorite way to eat them was straight out of the freezer! Now as a sophisticated 7 year-old he prefers the peas & carrots mix I can get at our grocery store. I put them in his lunch box in the morning and he eats them at school every day.
Will definitely try this for my family soon!
That’s great your son loves his veggies Laurie!
I use a similar method for making broth, being vegetarian, as you do saving the bones. What I do is save most of what I chop off the vegetables. After washing, chopped ends of carrots, ends of snap peas, bottom stems bits off the asparagus, bottoms of the celery stalks, bottoms of the lettuce head, etc…. you get the idea, all these get saved in a freezer bag in the freezer. I don’t care if the cell membranes get broken by freezing them because when I fill the bag, I toss it all in a large soup pot and add water to almost the top. Then I put it on for a boil for about 30 minutes, then let it simmer for a few hours. I watch the water level, and when it gets down to about half of where I started (or about 2 quarts), then I strain everything out and save the liquid. Put into 1 and 2 cup containers and freeze. Whenever I need veggie broth, I have it. To make sure I know what it is, I use simple masking tape and a pen to label it and date it. This way also, I can add salt if I want it, or a bit of Mrs Dash if needed, or whatever else I feel like flavoring it with.
And what gets strained out can then go to the compost in the back yard. I feel that I’m really getting my money’s worth out of my vegetables this way, and it’s healthier than buying those awful little cubes of broth or the very expensive jars, or boxes of ready made.
I hadn’t thought to make veg stock from the cup-off pieces, but will definitely give it a try. I always have a variety of soup bases in the freezer, and this would make a good addition. Thanks, Beth, and the final remains can still go onto the compost heap.
Wow Beth! What a great idea! Thx for sharing
I use the whole egg in my mayonnaise & it works just fine. There are videos showing this & it takes just minutes with the wand type beater.
Do enjoy your web site.
I used to make whole egg mayo but have read about raw egg whites being difficult to digest so stopped doing it. I also found the whole egg was never as rich as egg yolk Mayo
You can use the whole egg making mayonnaise & it works out just fine.
Do enjoy your web site.
I like to keep bacon strips in the freezer. I ration the batch when I cook (much to the chagrin of my family, but it keeps them healthy!), and save the rest to flavor soups and other dishes, or make quiche!
If I open a big jar of tomato paste, I will freeze the rest in an icecube tray, then transfer to a ziplock back.
I do the same with lemon and lime juice, when I have too much of the fruit (I also grate and freeze the zest).
I will often make up a batch of tomato, zucchini and onion; then freeze in containers – great for pasta, pizza topping or over meat or vegetables.
Fresh ginger is best kept in the freezer (whole and unpeeled) in a ziplock bag. When you need any, just grate it frozen (no need to peel).
I’ve heard that it is good to freeze chopped herbs in some oil; haven’t tried it yet.
My sister used to keep a pot in the freezer, to which she would add any leftovers, which became a soup at the end of the week. The kids would say, with trepidation, “Oh no; salad soup again!” Sometimes it was great; sometimes not.
Definitely try freezing herbs using an oil base – its amazing!! Chop up your herbs (either individually or mixed together to make a fresh mix of typical Italian, Thai, etc. herbs), add oil – just a couple tablespoons to bind the herbs together. Place them in a baggie that is suitable for the freezer and then (important) flatten the bag to even out the herb to oil mix. When you are ready to use, just break off a bit of the frozen oil-herb mix (easier to do when the mix is flattened and not in a larger clump) and simply drop it into your cooking pan/pot as a starter or to flavor a soup pot or tomato sauce or something already in process. We enjoy freshly frozen herbs all winter this way! Bonus: They take up very little space in the freezer because they can be stacked flat. Just remember to label your bags so you know what you are adding!
Ok Karen I’m going to try the herbs!
I’ve been freezing my home grown herbs but never have added the oil. Neither have I flattened them. I will give this a try next summer. Thanks.
Thanks for all your ideas Lyn! Had a good laugh about the ‘salad soup’ Jx
A must in my freezer…cleaned, dried & chopped Italian parsley in a ziplock…also dill, when I find a nice amount, which gets used in some family dishes & summer squash. Sometimes I buy the little packages in the veggie section of the store & toss it in the freezer. When I need it, I snip small bits with my kitchen scissors directly into the pan. It’s always better than dried!
Wow I hadn’t thought to freeze leafy herbs like that… Will have to try it El!
My freezer always has nuts, açai pulp, frozen veggies, frozen berries, other fruit I freeze myself, such as papaya and mesquite flour (our limoncello stash also lives in the freezer). A recent addition to my freezer is whey cubes. I also make my beans/lentils in big batches because I soak them. I also keep supplies of meats because I tend to buy them in bulk. I love having a big freezer. Most of my meat seems to be boneless, but I am also trying to save bones to make stock.
Lucky you having a big freezer Susan!
Always in my freezer: frozen berries (I will try not to panic!) and ginger.
I buy ginger in quantity, roughly peel it (just a quick-and-dirty job to get the really tough bits off), cut it into large-ish knobs, wrap it up (first in cling film, then tin foil), and toss it in the freezer. Whenever I want a hit of ginger (which is frequently!) I take out a hunk and grate it using a microplane. It “zests” up much more easily and evenly than fresh, and in most things the taste is pretty much identical to fresh.
As a curry fanatic, I also use fresh ginger on a regular basis but here’s another suggestion. Chop the fresh ginger it into cubes, then throw it in the food processor with a little water and pulverize till its crushed really fine. Then spoon it into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Once frozen, press out the cubes into a ziploc and store it in the freezer door. One cube is the perfect amount for a curry dish. Also, apparently, ginger doesn’t even need to be peeled either since the skin is so fine! (Wish I’d known that 20 years ago!) Just make sure its clean and cut off any knobbly, hard bits …
Love the idea or pureeing the ginger first. Thx Julie!
No need to panic Hilary.. Just make sure they’re not from China!
Amen to that Jules!
Where do you get the dried yoghurt starter from?
Or do you freeze some homemade ?
Hi Pam, I get it online from cheeselinks.com.au
I haven’t ever tried freezing yoghurt to use as a starter but not sure it would work that well… A home freezer would be much slower than commercial ones and that might cause the cell walls of the bacteria to burst.. But maybe I’m over thinking it! Jx
I always have frozen fruits and vegetables; meat–mostly poultry–sometimes raw and sometimes cooked; loaves of bread; cooked, parboiled, brown rice; frozen eggs from my hens; bacon. It is just me here, but I ration the bacon, too.
Jill Dupleix did a great version of sweet potato oven baked fries that were coated in eggwhite to make them extra crispy and taste ‘deep fried’ I thought it was a bit of a waste of an egg but if you’ve got them going to waste….
Interesting idea penny! Thx for the inspiration jx
sorry here’s the link! Can’t do it without the recipe!
Always, always a variety of soup bases : stock made from chicken bones (I don’t eat red meat), the water drained from tinned beans or chickpeas (I do cook my own … sometimes) and even whey after making cottage cheese from milk that’s past BB date and starting to sour. Being mainly vegetarian, and a lazy cook, I also cook rice in bulk and freeze in meal-size containers/Ziplock bags. Any left-overs are stored, and thrown together for some interesting combination meals on those really lazy evenings!
Love it Corrine!
Hi Jules. You spoke about egg whites and without looking a few minutes later I came across this from a post on my Facebook pages (first one on pumpkin squares) .would love you to simplify this down to 5! http://cleaneatingonline.com/category/recipes/vegetarian/snacks-vegetarian/
Will check it out thx Alison!
WE KEEP MILK IN THE FREEZER
Our freezer always has homegrown berries, mulled plums and steamed rhubarb (frozen in yogurt tubs), all the various veggies we grow, plus homegrown herbs (parsley, dill, mint, cilantro), gathered in the summer when they’re plentiful, washed and stored in ziploc bags – I just tear off the amount I need at the time I use them. Most important among the herbs though, is basil – which I freeze in olive oil: I whir basil leaves with olive oil in the food processor, to get a fairly thick mix, then freeze this in ice cube trays covered in plastic wrap, popping them out of the trays and into ziploc bags when they’re frozen. For a family-sized lasagna, I’ll use about 4 cubes. Basil keeps its lovely colour and flavour this way – much better than drying or freezing on its own.
I love the sound of mulled plums Laurie! How do you make them?
only thing i keep regularly is Heston Blumenthal’s chicken stock in ziplock bags.leftover rice turns my morning pho to a congee.leftover spaggetti squash is another occasional habitant.if you added garlic to that frozen ginger wouldn’t be bad idea instead of using some salty stuff out of a bottle.i would use the leftover egg whites in the fried rice.you could even colour it yellow .would he know hehehe
I like your idea of adding the whites to fried rice! Thx Barry :)
i have milk,which i had to do to stop the hubby drinking it all on me all the time! bread, bread rolls, tomato paste,mint leaves, irish stew from a big batch made not long ago, chicken wings-you know those little end bits, i take them off and freeze them to make stock with or chicken soup. various bits of fruit, ice cream- of course! meat- chicken, mince, steak, chicken thighs. frozen veg which i buy fresh and blanch then freeze. a couple of frozen chicken burgers my son had a fad on for a while until he realized mine were better! :)
Hi Cassandra! You could have your Irish stew for st Patrick’s day!
Hello, a great way to use egg white is to do financier, a great French recipe and this one is one I recommand: http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/cookies-small-cakes/miniature-financiers-recipe/
You can also make macaroons but I have never tried making those but foodies in France often keep their egg whites to make macaroons.
I am interested in understanding what you mean by only having dessert on Saturdays. We, in my family in France (we are French) have ‘dessert’ every day twice a day but dessert usually is fruit and/or yogurt! :-)
Love the sound of the financiers Sophie! Thanks for the link.
And with dessert on Saturdays I mean something decadent like cake or pudding. Fergal has fruit after most meals but I don’t really think of that as dessert!
there are many accusations for and against GMO’s. You should look at which side is supported by evidence from multiple studies and is supported by large medical and scientific organizations
I’ve decided to eat healthier lately. I am now on organic and gluten free diet. Ti is my way to deal with weight and celiac. It it hard and sometimes not even possible to prepare all meals at home. Now i order from http://www.freshnlean.com/faq/ , but I would like to learn some new recipe, to make something by my self. Thank you for posting. :)))
Good for you Martina!
I always have homemade spaghetti sauce and chili in the freezer, single servings, to heat up! And hey, how bout throwing some of those egg whites into this fried rice dish? :)
Great idea thx Laura!
PS: To anyone who reads comments, I have and LOVE Jules’ print cookbook. It’s lovely. And the bonus year of classes was a fantastic resource. You won’t be sorry if you order it.
Thanks so much for the shout out Laura! Really appreciate it! Jx
so many wonderful ideas from your readers. I am definitely going to start freezing all the vegetable leftovers, and herbs (although i grow most of mine indoors year round).
My great aunt use to make angel food cake from scratch – uses a lot of egg whites! for those special occasions like my birthday! served with fresh fruit, maybe a little ice cream, yum!
I am going to try your bangers and beer idea! we make a one pan meal with meatballs and roasted veggies so this would be a good alternative.
I love reading your blog, you (and your readers) have some great ideas…..
Great Janice! I haven’t ever made an angel food cake… Will have to explore jx
We had a huge freezer that we had for a long time in our basement but the compressor burned out and we had to throw all that food away because it defrosted! Boy, were we mad! We got a new freezer but a smaller then the one that we had. We also have the freezer above our fridge. Mom always has ice cream in the upstairs freezer. Mom goes to only one of 2 local neighborhood stores in our town and buys tons of lunch meats and cheese for sandwiches. We wrap them in aluminum foil packets and then we just thaw them out when we need some. We also keep breakfast sausages in there. A lot of times we make to much stuff for dinner so if we don’t eat all of it, it goes in the freezer before it spoils. Either upstairs or down in our basement. We buy frozen veggies when they are on sale and we freeze bricks of cheese for Mac & Cheese. When I plant my garden and I get tons of veggies, we freeze them in zip lock bags. When our grocery store has a buy 1 get 1 or 2 free on steaks or chicken or pork chops or kielbasa, we take the deal and freeze what we won’t use that night. We have a section of our grocery store that has veggies and fruits that are starting to go bad. We bring them home, cook some for supper & freeze the rest or just freeze it all after cooking it. I got a 2 lb. bag of fresh green beans that was starting to go for 99 cents! I bought 2 bags and gave some to both of my sisters and froze the rest for us. I threw away about a child sized handful of beans from the bag. We also have a part of our grocery store that has day old bread. We love sandwiches, grilled cheese and otherwise, so we keep half a loaf in our fridge and freeze the other half. My mom’s boss who is wonderful to her and our family just lost his wife who had been sick for 6 years. He loves grilled cheese so I make him one every Mon. & Fri. which is when my mom works. We love hot dogs and we always have some frozen and we buy butter on sale and freeze it. Sometimes when I don’t feel like cooking, we will by the high end TV Dinners or a frozen pizza or fish sticks. When there is a buy 1 get 1 on blueberries or raspberries mom freezes a lot of them. 2 weeks ago mom made blueberry pancakes and froze a bunch of them. We go to our Farmer’s Market in the summer and when there is corn on the cob, we buy some and freeze it on the cob. It tastes so good when it’s thawed and eaten in the fall or winter! Can you tell we use our freezer a lot?
Sorry the last post was so long. I love to write, cook and eat so sometimes I get to writing more then I should. I wanted to also say your sons recipe sounds amazing! We always get tons of white rice when we take away Chinese food and this will be a good excuse to use it all. I never used to like peas. They were always way to mushy for me. Then I discovered those tiny, baby peas which I also grow in my garden and I love peas again. I can’t wait to try this!
No need to apologise :)
I love how you add different ways to make the recipe based on your diet! Your blog is great!
Are you interested in working with Chicory and becoming a recipe partner?
Thanks Amanda! No I don’t really partner with other brands at this point in time :)
I grate my ginger on a very fine grater [actually a strange plastic rice server I found in Indonesia that has very effective little points on it – not much use for serving rice!], then add to curry, my cup of coffee, chia and coconut milk dessert. My kids loved fried rice too – but the chicks have flown, only me left. Had to downsize my freezer, but I must make space for that veg offcuts idea.
My Japanese friend’s mum taught me something similar. She started off with a couple of handfuls of frozen peas/corn/capsicum, let it sizzle for a few mins, then added the rice. She added a dollop of tomato sauce (that’s ketchup for the yanks, I guess), a half a teaspoon of chicken stock powder, then a splash of soy.
And here’s the best bit .. at the end, once the rice is removed, she put her eggs in the still-hot pan and made one of those flat Asian omelette things, then placed that over the top of the rice and would then tuck it in around it, making a little parcel, saying “tuck in, tuck in, rice going to bed!”
Was funny, and tasted amaze.
Love it! Thx Dann
It doesn’t happen often, but if there’s any left in a bottle I freeze wine in zip lock bags for use in sauces, risottos, casseroles, etc.
If I roast a chook or drumsticks and I’m not deglazing and making gravy I drain all the luquid into a takeaway and refrigerate it. The fat rises to the top and is easily removed from the juices that have turned to jelly. Pop it in the freezer and you have a terrific intense stock for soup, sauces, etc.
I too keep cooked rice in my freezer. I love to heat the rice with some butter, salt and pepper. Then I place a nicely poached egg on the top. It makes a lovely dish for any meal. I also have plain, cooked pasta, homemade ravioli, veg scraps for stock, toasted breadcrumbs, broth and smoothie ingredients just to name a few. I love your blog and look forward to your posts each day. I Have been cooking for 50 years and l have learned a good deal from you. Many thanks.
Thanks for sharing Robin!
Egg -whites treat!
In Holland we make the simplest healthy cookies with it:
– grated coco
– honey (best) or mashed bananas (healthier)
– egg whites
Mix and bake in the oven. Jammy!
You can make it more complicated by using a bit of almond meal or other meals but I love simple. That’s why I love Stonesoup, thank you for you efforts Jules!
PS Extra treat? Dip ‘m in melted chocolate. Twice! :-)
LOVE this idea Henriette!
Will try it out for my little banana lovers soon ;)
Another one for the egg whites I forgot:
Beat the egg whites with sugar, bit of lemon juice and zest until stiff.
(This works maybe better if you first stiffen the whites and then stir in the other ingredients)
Smear in a thick rough layer in the form of a tray (sides a bit up) on a tray in oven on very low temperature (140 degrees or 284 fahrenheit) until golden from the outside and inside still soft.
Ready? Now start your feast:
Fill with red fruits (healthy) and eat.
Or: fill with red fruit and ice cream and eat.
The fruit is still healthy, you lucky! :-)
This desert has a name: Pavlova. But to me it is Heaven.
Oh yay for Pavlova Henriette!
I love the use of basmati rice,it gives the dish a nice aroma.