Cooking straight from frozen, yes really!
I know I’ve taken sausages straight from the freezer and cooked them through from frozen. Look guys, I don’t have a microwave so needs must. I just cook them really slowly, really gently. It’s not energy efficient, but none of us are perfect right? When cooking food from frozen, use a lower temperature to start with to thaw, then increase the temperature to cook. Use a meat thermometre to get an exact reading, or a skewer – pierce the piece of meat. If it’s cold or body temperature, the meat is NOT cooked. If it is hot as all hellfire, you’re good to go.
Thin fish fillets, small fish, sausages, burgers, and seafood if added at the end of a hot dish.
Do NOT try to cook anything big from frozen: a whole chicken, a turkey crown. Big containers of stew are different because the gravy will boil into the meat and veg, killing off bacteria. The many small pieces heating through is very different from a half leg of lamb – especially when you want that meat to stay pink in the middle. So don’t do it!
Meat & Fish
Make sure you freeze the food before it goes past its use by date; the freezer keeps food in suspended animation but it’s not a time machine.
Wrap up meat and fish properly otherwise it’ll get freezer burn. This can make foods tough and inedible. What is properly? Well, if you’re freezing it straight from the shops, then the packaging you bought it in should be fine; the black plastic tub, the fish bag.
If you’re packaging it yourself then any plastic tub will do: again, think ice-cream tub, takeaway tub.
You can freeze meat for a long time and it will still be safe to eat, but the quality will deteriorate so it’s best to eat it within three to six months. Plus what are the chances that you actually *want* to eat that slightly burned stew? Not going to be increased by sitting in the freezer for 6 months. So get it defrosted, shove some mash on top and put plenty of ketchup on the side.
Freeze loads of leftover fruits for puddings and smoothies; if the supermarket can sell it frozen, why can’t you freeze your own?
Your freezer can be your friend, keeping some leftovers safe from turning into squish in your fridge or, if you’re so inclined, storing an extra batch of bolognese or crumble if you can make two at a time.
I only have a three drawer freezer as my house is ‘compact’. If you have a large freezer it’s a really good idea to keep a handle on what’s in there, if that’s in your brain or a written list. Food will keep for a long time but not forever.
Not sure what or how to freeze/defrost safely? As a rule of thumb freeze foods as soon as possible and eat them as soon as you can after defrosting.
FYI, I haven’t had a microwave since uni. Not because I think they’re terrible, more that we’ve always had modest kitchens/budgets, so buying something just for defrosting/reheating seemed a waste of cash. I know how to cook through from frozen!
Most foods can be frozen (see other sections).
Always label the food! Even though I only have a three drawer freezer, I’ve defrosted a pot of egg whites to discover a large glass of white wine swilling around the bottom of the pot. A little masking tape and a permanent marker is all you need.
Cool food as quickly as possible; so pop your lasagne/stew on a cooling rack and, if possible, away from the cooker, as it cools. Something is room temperature when you can’t feel any heat rising from it on the back of your hand
Have a good stash of storage containers on hand. Old ice cream tubs, plastic take-away pots, hummus pots – these are all great. They’re see through, have lids, are food grade and come in a variety of sizes.
These are my geek best. They are glass, so strong flavours/smells won’t linger. Nice sturdy lid so you can freeze dishes without needing to find the foil. You can put a lasagne or whatever from the freezer to the oven without faffing around. No jokes these dishes are brilliant. Not pretty but brilliant.
I’ll be adding to this section as I find more information. Questions? Email me ann @ storrcupboard.com