Freezing

Saturday, 11 February 2012

I've been meaning to write a post about how I use my freezer for ages. As it is freezing outside I thought to day would be a good time.

I love my freezer and would never want to be without it. I have a big freezer. I can't remember its capacity but suffice to say it is big enough to store a body. If I needed to.
Our house has an integral garage with a door to the kitchen. This is extremely convenient and means I can use the garage for extra food storage. I have my preserves shelf in there, a big sack of potatoes, a basket of onions and apples and my freezer.

There are several ways you can use your freezer.
1). You can fill it with ready-made frozen meals, desserts and cakes. This option has never held much appeal for me, but then I like to cook.

2). You can fill it with meals you have cooked. I don't do this but would if I had a full-time job. Some people practise 'once a month cooking' where they spend a couple of days doing nothing but cooking multiple meals for their freezers. There are plenty of sites on the internet showing you exactly how to do this, although they do all seem to be North American.
 An easier, less stressful way to fill a freezer with home made meals is to simply triple up a meal once a week, say on a Sunday when you have time to cook. It takes no more time to make chilli for 12 than it does to make it for 4. Portion up the extra two meals and freeze them. After a few weeks you will have a variety of home made ready meals in your freezer.

3). My preferred freezer-filling method is to fill it with ingredients and leftovers which I can use to build meals.
The following is a list of things I like to have in the freezer depending on budget and space.

peas and sweetcorn are always in my freezer.
berries -home grown in the summer
fruit purées- damson, apple and quince
black bananas - great for making banana cakes
chickpeas, kidney beans and other beans - I soak and cook a whole packet of dried beans at once and then freeze them on a baking sheet until hard enough to gather into a bag. I can then add them straight to stews and soups, no need to thaw. Cheaper than tins.
chicken -whole and breasts
mince
sausages
chicken livers
salmon fillets
prawns
all-butter puff pastry
bread -home made loaves and bought pittas
breadcrumbs and bread cubes which I make with the crusts of my home made loaves. I use the cubes to make croutons for soup.
stock - I make stock with the bones of all chickens and other birds I cook whole. If I boil a gammon joint I add a carrot and an onion to the water and then save it after the meat is cooked for stock.
pastry - although I don't often make pastry for the freezer I do freeze leftover raw pastry. When there's  enough to make a pie or a tart I defrost it and bake.
crumble - I often make lots of crumble mix and freeze it in a bag for easy hot puds.
egg whites - I always seem to have a couple of egg whites in the freezer leftover from a recipe which required only yolks. Make sure you write the number of egg whites on the container then you can use them for meringues.
fresh herbs - If I have bought fresh herbs and not got round to using them I chop them up and freeze in an ice cube tray with water.
ginger - I keep peeled root ginger in a little bag in the freezer and grate it from frozen to use in a recipe.
lemon juice - spare lemon halves can be squeezed and the juice frozen in an ice cube tray. You can also freeze leftover wine but I never have leftover wine.
grated cheese - hard cheeses freeze well grated which is jolly useful if you want to keep cheese aside for cooking but find someone has eaten it all in their sandwiches.
vegetable hash - I find this extremely useful, details in this post
tomato sauce -I've just discovered a brilliant way of making this which I intend to write about sometime next week. Incredibly useful for all sorts of recipes.
single servings of leftover meals - good for my lunches or more often to feed constantly starving teenage boys.
cakes and muffins - most cakes and biscuits freeze really well. I like to bake in big batches and freeze the extras.
milk- for emergencies. It takes ages to defrost so I freeze the two pint size.
 yogurt in 2 tablespoon amounts for starting off home made yogurt.
ice lollies -home made and usually only in the summer but I have elderberry lollies in the freezer at the moment.
ice cubes - for gin and tonics

A word on freezing and  food safety.
I'm no expert but I do know this; food cannot go off in the freezer if your freezer is working correctly. Food can deteriorate in quality the longer it is left in the freezer but it will not become dangerous to eat.
You are not supposed to defrost food and then refreeze it without cooking it first. While I would never take a risk with meat or fish I do refreeze bread all the time.


In my freezer today.

2 pints of milk, 4 loaves of bread (in the blue bags), vegetable hash in the unlabelled tubs, leftover mashed potato, duck stock, bags of cooked beans (not visible), container of too-sweet leftover birthday cake, ice blocks, ice cream machine bowl (top right), little tubs of elderberry syrup and elderberry lollies

 3 egg whites, cubes of mint, soya beans, broad beans, petits pois, sweetcorn (need to buy more peas and sweetcorn), breadcrumbs, ginger, tubs of apple and quince purée, blueberries, cranberries, pitta bread, black bananas, ice cubes (alas no gin nor tonic in the house), and there are also tubs of ham stock in there out of sight.


This morning there were two small lumps of pastry and a bag of cooked gammon. These will be made into a tart for dinner tonight.

What do you freeze? Any good ideas I've overlooked?



53 comments:

  1. Leftover (if there is any) French Stick makes excellent breadcrumbs, I always add a few herbs because I make my own Southern Fried Chicken.
    Please may I give you a warning - Richmond Sausages actually go off in the freezer if they are kept longer than a month. I discovered this by accident. I went to use a packet for Toad-in-Hole the other day. I use to buy them and freeze them straight away, they are previous frozen and I had them in the freezer for six/seven weeks, they started to smell as they were defrosting. It wasn't just the one pack I had bought three packs (two different use by dates) on that shopping trip as they were on offer and they were all the same. It actually says they are previously frozen in the small print!
    Julie xxxxxxxx

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    1. Meat really can't go off in the freezer. Ifroze some pork recently and then defrosted it to find that is was off - very bad smell. But it didn't go off in the freezer it must have been off when I put it in there. Obviously I didn't know it was off as it was well packaged and in date etc -but sometimes you get bad meat.

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  2. There's an absolutely brilliant website called Still Tasty which I constantly use; recently the fuse went on my freezer and stuff started to defrost, and it had really useful advice about things that could be refrozen if already defrosted - the experience wasn't anywhere near as much of a loss as I'd thought. I use the website constantly now - it has saved me so much waste.

    My freezer is titchy, and inefficient - it frosts up as soon as it's defrosted. Mainly it has meat, a couple of cooked meals, bits of leftover STUFF, bread, veg, frozen ginger; and little children's yogurts for throwing into packed lunches.

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    1. That's a great site, thanks for that. It has just told me that is perfectly fine to put hot food directly into the fridge -something i do all the time.

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  3. Your freezer contents sound a lot like mine (i.e. mostly ingredients) but your freezer is bigger - I'm determined my next one will be huge as I'm always trying to stuff things in and there's never enough space. The only thing I do differently is I don't bother to squeeze lemons. I just freeze them in quarters or halves; great for shoving into a chicken before roasting (lemon defrosted first) or straight from the freezer and plonked into a jug of tap water for the table in the summer.

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  4. You are always so well organised Sue. I don't own a freezer so I cannot compare.

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  5. Hi Sue,
    You have some great ideas here I will be trying the vegetable hash and freezing beans by cooking in quantity.

    I do freeze most of the above so can't add much apart from coffee and leftover chopped onions.

    Do you have any advice for organised food cupboards in a future post, mine are always in such a mess!

    Sarah

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  6. Egg whites, of course! I always forget to freeze them and they sit in the fridge looking odd and unappealing and so then I throw them away - I'm not a great meringue fan, though all the girls are and Joe is too.

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    1. And there are plenty of other things you can use them for -macaroons for example.

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  7. deecee312305:46 pm GMT

    as we live in the country and have a good sized "potager" we do grow a lot of our own stuff - it is my aim to be virtually self-sufficient. it does help that we are vegetarian (pescetarian, but we buy fish that is organically raised in a lake in the nearby mountains). as a result we have 3 freezers. all are upright to save me scrabbling through for stuff. we make stuff destined for the freezer and also store loads of stuff in bottles. most of the stuff that goes in the freezer is veggies such as broad beans, cauliflower, brocolli, ready made tomato soup, ready made "red sauce" for pasta, "ready meals" (if i cook a fish pie, i make enough for 3 or 4 meals, just in case) i also freeze beans (green and other types, so they are ready to pop into different meals/soups), parsnips, frozen mashed potatoes, breadcrumbs, frozen herbs from the garden, bread and fruit as well as home made fruit ice creams. its been great as over the last two weeks and i believe the week to come, we will be snowed in (we live on the top of a very steep and winding road) and anyway, even if we could get out its nearly 20km to the nearest shops, there is bound to be a problem somewhere along the way. so - it may not be the best idea to have a freezer, but here, its been a Godsend!

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    1. Impressive freezering.

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  8. Louise G6:01 pm GMT

    My freezer is mainly ingredients/ leftovers too - currently it contains whole chickens, lots of breasts, several beef joints, pork joints and loins, steaks (various, all from reduced cabinets), mince, lamb (shanks & diced), turkey and chicken stock, ham slices, veggies (mainly home grown), fruit and berries (home grown & foraged in the main), black bananas (lots - my mum will only eat them green but gives them to me about a week later, when they're black!), pizza dough, chappati dough, a couple of leftover portions of meals (curry, lasagne & chilli), pasta sauce, pizza sauce, chopped herbs, mozzarella, crumble topping, several slices of baguette, sausages, gorgeous bacon bought on offer, 'squeezy' fromage frais, 2 tubs double cream, chickpeas, leftover roast chicken, several slices of roast pork, onion bhajis and breadcrumbs :)

    I love my freezer - handy for clearing out the fridge to before a holiday (chop veggies for use in chilli, curry etc)

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    1. I'm glad you mentioned mozzarella Louise, it does freeze very well in its pouch doesn't it?

      I'm interested in your double cream. I thought it had to be whipped before freezing. Does it whip up well after freezing?

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  9. This is a really interesting post Sue. A chest freezer is on my wish list when we move and I have enough room for one, as we have a pretty small freezer compartment. Mine is usually full of frozen veg and meals which I've prepared and frozen for use later, plus a few Linda McCartney and Fry's things for when I really can't be bothered. I also freeze boiled rice in portion sized containers - we use lots of it, so I do a huge batch and then just freeze. I also freeze cooked beans and pearl barley (I'm planning on using your barley water recipe when I make the next batch). I'd love to be able to do one of those huge 'cook ups' and freeze a couple of weeks worth of meals in one go, but at the moment I don't have enough freezer space.
    Dan
    -x-

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  10. That was interesting to read. In our home the freezer just contains emergency foods and woopsied carbs. Never really used it properly although I have often meant to. We do not own a microwave and that puts me off batch cooking.

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  11. Anonymous6:53 pm GMT

    Always interesting to peek into someone else's freezer! I have two, I have to confess - one the same size as yours, Sue, which lives in the garage and contains mainly the mountains of fruit we don't eat every year (we have a big, productive garden), and the other is a large upright one, the freezer version of the Bosch larder fridge. This lives indoors and is also full, I'm afraid. I try to make myself feel better about this overabundance by remembering that a full freezer is more efficient to run.

    Last thing I froze very successfully - left-over coconut milk, from a tin. I didn't use all of it so it went into ice-cube trays and froze really well. I can now take out as much as I need and chuck it into soups/curries as and when needed. As long as it's not boiled up too fiercely it seems to be fine and doesn't split.

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  12. Wow, I think you covered everything pretty well. How about tomato PASTE in small tablespoons in a freezer box or bag? I saw this on Jane's Jewels blog.
    Oh, and I thought it was funny when you said you never had any leftover wine! ;-)

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    1. Tomato paste is a very good idea, I sometimes let it go mouldy in the jar, thanks!

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  13. Wow Sue! I only have a tiny freezer and half of that is filled with raw minced tripe and lambs hearts for the dogs so I have to be very selective about what I store frozen and mostly stick to obvious things like meat, fish, peas and ice cream. I do always have some of what I call 'carrot base' in the freezer - sauté an onion, add chopped carrots and water to just cover and a bay leaf or two, cook until carrots are al dente, then remove bay leaves, purée and freeze. With seasoning, cream, and a splash of sherry you have a simple carrot soup, but it also makes a wonderful base for all sorts of other meals, well we think so anyway :D
    I also usually have a bag or two of frozen flower heads in there (nothing toxic) which I use as a source of plant dye.

    It's fascinating getting a peek into so many different freezers here :D

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  14. I miss our big freezer! We got rid of it about a year ago, and now manage with the three drawers under the fridge. It's top of my list for re-purchase once we've moved house. Whole chickens! Bread! Enough milk to last the week! We'll start with the basics.

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  15. bagels. i buy them when they are cheap then slice them in half and freeze them individually.

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  16. Alison S10:29 pm GMT

    The other possible use for a freezer is to store large quantities of meat - I'm getting half a pig next week, having been cajoled into joining a local Pig Club - rare breed, humanely reared and cheaper than other ways of getting it - I can choose how it's cut up, but I have to take all of the half pig. Am not quite sure how I will fit it all in, yet - we're eating a lot of unexpected meals in the next few days, to make some room, I think!

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    1. Good point and yes, I have bought half a pig on several occasions, also mixed meat packs from a butcher.

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  17. Your freezer sounds wonderfully large...I now have real freezer envy!

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  18. deedownunder6:36 am GMT

    I freeze everything you have mentioned but in addition,I freeze nuts to prevent them from going rancid. Even freeze almond meal. In Australia, in summer, many people keep their glasses in the freezer - great for keeping the drinks cool on a hot day.

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    1. Nuts, yes that's a good one. I buy nuts in bulk and used to do that but I realised we used them up pretty quickly and it wasn't necessary.

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  19. Thanks for the tip on freezing egg whites - I hadn't thought about freezing them. I too have a second freezer in my garage, which I couldn't do without. Ground coffee is another good item to keep fresh in the freezer, because it is dry and doesn't clump together, you can use it directly from the freezer. Best wishes, Pj x

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  20. If we have a glut of fruit, I've learnt that it's better to cook it - making a compote or crumble - rather than simply freeze a bag of gooseberries or blackcurrants. Although it seems a bother at the time, it somehow makes them more usable.

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    1. Agreed. You never get round to using it otherwise.

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  21. My freezer is half of my upright fridge freezer and isn't big enough...and when I looked into the possibility of getting an additional one for the garage (at the bottom of the garden) I didn't as they have to be keep externally and a pretty constant temperature and as a single skin it seems either hot of cold...one day...
    Apart from the usual (head lowered in shame - chips, ready meals I always make double crumble mix that is great for making a fast pudding and doesn't have to be defrosted. I always have fish portions for when I have sick pets....fish always makes them better.

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  22. Sue, have you ever made the magical banana ice cream that one reads of on the Internet - the one made by whipping frozen bananas instead of cream? It sounds very healthy for children, but I'm not emboldened to give it a go till you do.

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    1. I haven't the banana version but I have made icecream by throwing frozen berries into the food processor with a bit of yogurt or orange juice -more sorbet-like than ice cream.

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    2. I made James Martin's version & it worked:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/instantbananaicecrea_86115

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  23. Granny Dot7:06 pm GMT

    Soup, soup and more soup. Maybe it's because I'm Scottish and chilly? Cook a vat of soup every day for a week and there's soup forever, almost!
    Unusually the freezer is full of baking for a coffee afternoon my daughter is holding soon so not much room for restocking with soup right now.
    Thank you ladies. I hope never to have tough, old ginger or furry tomato paste again!
    Any thoughts on chest v upright freezers?

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  24. Looking at your well stocked and labelled freezer brought back a memory to me to make me giggle.
    When I was young and lived with my parents my mum used to like to make pasties and freeze extra to use at another mealtime. One day there were about six of us have a pastie for dinner, very tasty they were - my brother kept munching away at his pastie - only to discover it was a spare piece of pastry that mum had left over and decided to freeze! I still giggle now! He also had his sandwiches in a recycled bread bag - only to find out it was the left over sliced loaf and not sandwiches at all! My advise ALWAYS LABEL :)

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  25. Seville oranges for marmalade making. You can freeze them whole. I did this last year and made a batch mid summer.I've got another 3 jars to go and then I shall be making some from the oranges I bought last month. You add a couple more oranges for the pectin, apparently, it drops slightly when frozen.
    I also freeze butter wrappers and use them to line tins when making cakes. Haven't bought greaseproof paper for years.

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    1. I wonder if I have left it too late to buy Sevilles. I have quite a lot of last year's marmalade left so haven't made any this winter but I may well need more by the summer. Good tip, thanks.

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  26. I make a big batch of rubbed in flour and butter - take it out and add sugar for crumble or water to make pastry.

    Half used tins fo coconut millk and half used tetrapaks of passata. Also if I have opened a tin of baked beans and only used some then I have recetnyl discovered the rest cna be frozen - i was regualarly guilty of letting the other half go off

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  27. Hi Sue,
    You may be a bit late for sevilles, up here in Lancashire i made mine a couple of weeks ago and they said in the veg shop that they would be the last. So bought double amount and froze half the sevilles. You could make a three fruit marmalade using ordinary oranges, grapefruit & lemons. I have a really old Good Housekeeping recipe book called Jams & Preserves ( i think) and there are a few marmalade recipes using other citrus fruits.
    I love your inspiational and informative blog i check it out daily.

    Love Carole from Rossendale xxxx

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    1. Thank you Carole and thank you for reading. I've never made marmalade with other fruit, maybe I'll try a lime version.

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  28. I agree with Granny Dot - just has to be packed with soup - i just bag mine up in bowlfuls, so that my other half can just grab a bag when he's off to work in the morning. He's a postman so gets really cold so it means when he goes back to the office he can heat it up for his lunch. We make up a big pan each weekend and just like your main meals we then end up with a constant variety - just done a big pan of Jamie Oliver's basic tomato soup this weekend - so simple, so easy and so economical!

    I love my freezer! Thanks for the Ginger tip will - what a great idea.
    Thanks
    Fleur xx

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  29. I'm afraid that I freeze things that become unrecognisable and can then only be thrown away. Not as guilt-inducing as throwing away fresh food.....

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  30. Granny Dot1:58 pm GMT

    Oh yes... labelling. Made an apple fool using thawed apple puree once. Nice way to end a meal for visitors, so I thought. Only as I folded the puree into the custard and cream did I realise it was thick parsnip soup! It's no good telling yourself that you'll remember what's in all the packages, you DON'T.
    Very much enjoy your blog Sue. It's a great blend of down-to-earth practicality and a truly quirky, wicked sense of humour!

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    1. Thank you Granny Dot :)

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  31. Lots of interesting tips...I'm off to put my ginger in the freezer straightaway.
    I keep a notebook of everything that's in the freezer - particularly handy as my freezer is in the garage. It's handy to know what's on which shelf and what I have in general. It really helps me to keep track of everything.
    (I have done the trick before of taking soup to work and finding out it's apple sauce - I once did this 2 days running to everyone's amusement!)
    So label and list - things that you can never do too much of!

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  32. Pati from London3:22 pm GMT

    Interesting post... we don't have a large freezer and therefore don't freeze much but I always have: peas, ginger, brioche and fruity bread that has been previously sliced (to toast for breakfast), raw beans from spain, loads of herbs: parsley, mint, coriander, tarragon, vanilla ice cream and frozen berries to do a quick crumble, ice cubes and ice lollies..... x Pati

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    1. I like the fruity bread idea Pati.

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  33. In case anyone doesn't know, using a fairly wide roll of masking tape, and a permanent disc marker type of pen is good for labelling. The advantages are that the tape is easy to tear, and is easy to remove when you need to, but it doesn't come off in the freezer

    I use your veg hash a lot but would like to know more about freezing dried beans. I'm also a soup maker and generally have a lot in the freezer - I often add sweet potato to a veg soup to give a bit more flavour - because of diet controlled diabetes. Will def be doing the ginger thing. Can you make ginger tea with gratings of fresh - I'm just addicted to ginger tea. Love this blog - have been lurking a while ...

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    1. Hello Linda. I'm not sure about ginger tea having never made it, but you can use frozen ginger as you would fresh.

      All I do with the beans is to pour a packet of dried beans into a bowl, cover with water and leave overnight. In the morning I drain them and bring them to the boil in fresh water and then simmer until cooked. Usually this takes about an hour and a half. I make sure I boil red kidney beans fast for ten minutes before simmering to destroy toxins. Then I drain them and spread them on a baking tray. When they are cool I put the tray in the freezer for about half an hour by which time they are hard. I gather the frozen beans up into a plastic bag and return to the freezer. When I want to use beans in a stew or soup I simply pour them from the bag into my pot without defrosting. If I'm making hummus or something which requires mashed beans I let them defrost first. I hope that helps.

      Thanks for the masking tape tip.

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  34. Thanks for the instructions. I'm going to give it a go - conveniently i have an open freeze tray built in to the freezer. I love red kidney beans and the like so this will be very handy for me.

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  35. Anonymous1:12 pm GMT

    I use my (small) freezer for those leftovers from cooking that just shouldn't be discarded: the half tin of coconut milk when you're not making a huge curry; the remaining half a bunch of parsley which I chop and chuck in a bag; over-optimistic quantities of buttercream icing which can be used up in different flavours (we always seem to make much too much coffee icing!) on cupcakes... happy cooking!

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  36. I have just discovered making butter & freezing it. It is surprisingly quick and easy I will never walk by reduced double cream in the supermarket again. Here's a tutorial:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gallery/2010/feb/24/how-to-make-butter-home

    PS have also just discovered your blog, I've had a pleasurable couple of evenings reading it all the way from the start, thank you.

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    1. Gosh Jane I think you deserve a large drink for reading it all! Thanks for those links.

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