I have a minor obsession about my freezer. I want it to be organized and efficient, but somehow it is always just that little bit chaotic and I don’t know what I have. Bunched up that bag of petite peas or lima beans? A bunch of whole persimmons taking up space? Where is the yeast? So it is fitting I write about it.
Home freezing is a simple and safe method of preserving food. Although fresh is best when it comes to yeast and quick breads, frozen baked goods are good to have on hand. Please remember that the freezer compartment of a refrigerator is not a true deep freeze (like those big standups or old “coffin” shaped models), but is intended for short storage. It will keep foods for a few months, but for long-term safe storage, you should freeze at 0 degrees F or below.
Freeze in plastic or thick freezer bags rather than glass, which can shatter. If you are organized, label and date each container. it is amazing how everything looks the same after a few months.
To freeze yeast breads and dinner rolls, muffins, scones, completely bake according to the recipe. Let cool to room temperature on a rack. Wrap whole or presliced loaves first in good-quality plastic wrap, then aluminium foil or polyethylene freezer bags. Label and date loaves, if possible; you will be surprised at how similar all the loaves will look like frozen. The maximum storage time is about 3 months. Raw pie crust and pizza dough are great frozen as well.
To thaw, let the loaf stand at room temperature for about 3 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator, completely wrapped to preserve moisture. Bread may be refreshed, or thawed, in a 350º oven. Place an unsliced loaf, au naturel or wrapped in aluminium foil, in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes to crisp the crust and heat it through. Sliced breads may be refreshed in a toaster without defrosting or microwaved for 15 seconds. Rolls reheat best wrapped, as they dry out quickly.
To freeze sweet breads and sweet rolls, completely bake according to the recipe. Cool to room temperature, wrap, and store as for yeast breads. After the bread is thawed and heated, glaze, ice, or dust with powdered sugar just before serving. Freeze unbaked cookie dough. A tip from old Betty Crocker.
To freeze quick breads, completely bake according to the recipe. The maximum storage time for all frozen quick breads is 3 months.
Other things to freeze: broth, soups, leftover cooked rice, bags of unsweetened berries of all type for smoothies and baking. A variety of vegetables such as spinach, peas, corn. Freeze whole grain flours (you will need room). Stews, marinara sauce, leftover meals like lasagne. If you have a fisherman in your family, filet the fish and store in freezer bags.
Freezer Marinara Sauce
Makes 12 cups
3 (28-oz.) cans crushed tomatoes in sauce
2 (14-.5-oz.) cans diced tomatoes in juice
1 small white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
Add everything into a 6-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours, without opening the lid during the cooking time.
After the sauce is done cooking, uncover and let cool for a few hours before ladling into storage bags.
Freeze for up to 2 months. you can stack the bags flat to store.
To use, place the bag of sauce in the fridge to thaw the day before the sauce is needed.
Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2016
Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.
I read this blog and loved it. There is skill in organization…and keeping a fridge organized is an every day job.
How To Clean Your Fridge
1. Take out all the food, throwing away anything that is moldy, spoiled, or expired. It is amazing what is in the back of the fridge, even if you are cooking every day. Also throw out that mustard bottle with 1/8-inch layer of yellow at the bottom. Make a list of condiments and jams to replace.
2. Take out all the removable parts of the fridge, like the shelves and the drawers. If your fridge has a drip tray, pull that out, too. Use a sponge and warm water mixed with a mild non-toxic dishwashing soap to scrub them clean. Be careful not to expose a cold glass shelf to very hot water–the temperature change might cause it to crack. Also, don’t use ammonia- or bleach-based cleaning products in your fridge–you don’t want that stuff in with the food you eat. When everything is clean, wipe dry with a clean towel.
3. Wash out the inside of the fridge and the door with the same mild soapy water solution. Wipe dry. If there is a residual foody smell, wipe down the whole thing with a solution of baking soda and warm water. Wipe down the sides. Open a box of baking soda and place in the back corner.
4. Replace the shelves and drawers, making sure one shelf is tall enough for your milk carton and other tall items. Every fridge is different, but here are a few rules of thumb for grocery placement.
a) Veggies go in the crisper drawer. Usually the temperature is calibrated to be ideal for veggies. I put mine in Ziplock bags to keep them fresher, and so I can see what’s in there.
b) Don’t put meat, milk, or eggs on the door. The door is almost always significantly warmer than the rest of the fridge, so save that space for condiments, wine, sparkling waters, beer, sodas, and juices.
c) Keep fresh meat and poultry wrapped in a plastic bag on a shelf where it will be kept cold and cannot drip on anything below it.
d) Keep like with like. Cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products should be housed together. All fruits should be together.
5. As you put things back in the fridge, make sure you wipe off each item with a damp rag to make sure there is nothing sticky going back into your gorgeous, sparkly-clean fridge.
6. Think you’re finished? Repeat with the freezer.