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8 Ways to Make Your Freezer Work for You

8 Ways to Make Your Freezer Work for You

With a little planning, your freezer will become your best kitchen friend.

By Selma Roth

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Your freezer is one of the most useful and convenient appliances in the house. With a little common sense, it makes your culinary life easy, saves time, and probably will save you money.

To make the most of the freezer, keep a list of what is in it — and plan to use the frozen food in a reasonable period of time. This means cooking frozen meat within four to six months, and vegetables within two or three.

Here are some ways you may not have considered to make the most of the freezer.

What to do with egg whites when you're using only the yolks? Freeze them in a plastic container. Later you can use them to add volume to a meringue, make an angel food cake, or a healthful egg white omelet. Be sure to indicate on the container just how many egg whites it holds, which will make future uses easy.

Butter freezes beautifully and it’s always a good idea to have an extra pound on hand in the freezer. If you want to serve fancy pats of butter for a dinner party, make them ahead of time and hold them in the freezer. Use an elegant decorator tip on a plastic bag to squeeze pretty shapes of softened butter onto a small tray. Freeze the pats on the tray and then transfer to a plastic bag for longer freezing.

One way to keep brown sugar from getting hard is to store it in the freezer in a plastic bag.

When your bananas turn brown and soft and you don’t have time to make banana bread, mash them up. Put the pulp in plastic containers, with the amounts clearly marked, and freeze the fruit until you have time to bake. If you prefer, peel the bananas and freeze them whole in plastic bags.

So often recipes call for two or three tablespoons of tomato paste or something similar and you’re left with perishable soft food and nothing to do with it. Instead of tossing it, measure the amount you use in a recipe onto pieces of plastic wrap and freeze on a baking sheet. When solid, wrap each portion with the plastic wrap and put the little bundles in a zipped freezer bag.

Blocks of cheese don’t freeze particularly well, and grated cheese turns into an unappetizing blob in the freezer. Here’s a solution: Grate the cheese, put it in a zipped freezer bag, leaving several inches at the top. Sprinkle a small amount of cornstarch in the bag and shake until all the cheese is coated. The exact amount doesn’t matter because the cornstarch is tasteless and won’t affect the cheese’s flavor. When you need it, measure out what you need and return the rest to the freezer. You’ll never have a glob of cheese again.

When you want to freeze a lot of something, like hamburger patties, chicken breasts and legs, or several pork chops, lay the separate pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet and put it in the freezer in the coldest part of the box. This will quick freeze the food in a relatively short time. Put the frozen food in a freezer bag and stash the bag in the freezer. Like magic, the pieces of food will never stick together so you can easily access them.

Chopping nuts is always a nuisance, particularly when you are in the middle of a recipe. When you have a little extra time, chop a pound or more of nuts, transfer them to a tightly sealed container and they will be ready when you want them. Chopped nuts thaw quickly and so are easy to use, even at the last minute.

______________________________________________________________________ Selma Roth is a freelance writer based in Salem, Oregon.

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