Five Things You Never Thought to Freeze but Probably Should

June 3, 2014

by Ann Waterman

Wine
Your freezer is your friend: It stores ice cream for late-night binges, ice cubes for drinks, and maybe even a meal when you’re pressed for time and can’t cook. But are you using your freezer its full potential? It can also serve as a second pantry, providing a storage solution for perishable staples that are always good to have on hand. Here are some of my favorite things to keep on standby in my freezer:

Wine

While I’m often tempted to polish off that bottle of wine after dinner, I know the leftovers could be put to better use in a recipe at a later time — so I freeze it. Because of the alcohol content, the wine won’t freeze completely, but it’ll be ready to go when a recipe calls for it, all while saving you from opening a new bottle just for cooking. You can store leftovers in a Ziploc bag — or better yet, put unused breastmilk storage bags to good use: The bag size is perfect for small quantities of liquid.

bagels
Bagels and Bread

My favorite bagels come from a bakery in Montreal called St. Viateur Bagel. What makes their bagels unique is that they’re made with malt and boiled in a honey-water mixture before being baked to golden-brown perfection in wood-fired ovens. In fact, their bagels are so famous, they offer air shipment all over Canada and the U.S. The only catch is that the minimum order for this service is four dozen bagels. So what did I do when I placed an order for my brother’s birthday? Gave him half and froze the rest for me! I slice mine and store them in the freezer; then, when I have a hankering for one, I simply pull it out of the freezer to let it thaw, or pull the two halves apart and drop them straight in the toaster (the best way to eat them, in my opinion).

Bread also freezes well, and I always have a loaf of two on standby in the freezer so we never run out of PB&Js, a staple in our house. I’ll also throw the remains of a fresh loaf in the freezer if I don’t think we’ll be able to finish it before the mold gets to it, though this is becoming less of a problem as our family grows.

tomato_paste
Tomato Paste

I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but if a recipe called for tomato paste, I used to use the 1 or 2 tablespoons I needed…and trash the rest. It’s not an ingredient I use often (or in great quantity), and by the time I needed it again, it would be well past its prime. Then it dawned on me: Why not freeze it? Portion the remaining contents of the can (I find 1 tablespoon servings most useful) in a silicon ice cube tray and put it in the freezer. Once frozen, pop out the tomato paste cubes and store them in a Ziploc bag. Now I have fresh tomato paste whenever I need it, in portions that are ready to go when I am.

ginger
Ginger

Fresh ginger is delightful in recipes, but I rarely use more than a knob at a time. Thankfully, it freezes well. Wash and peel your ginger, cut it into portion-sized knobs, and toss in a freezer bag. When a recipe calls for fresh ginger, pull it out of the freezer, let it thaw for about 5 minutes, and then grate or chop as needed.

Pancake
Pancakes and Waffles

While these aren’t as good as hot-off-the-griddle, frozen waffles or pancakes that are thawed in the microwave, warmed in the oven, or heated in the toaster are still considered a luxurious breakfast by the wee folk in my house. We always make a double batch and throw the leftovers in the freezer for a quick and easy weekday breakfast for the kids. My dad’s pancake recipe — which makes pancakes that are more crêpe-like than the traditional, fluffy pancakes — freeze particularly well.

What do you keep in your freezer? Anything that might surprise us?

P.S. — Looking for more ingenious kitchen tips? How about easy summer chicken, a better salt shaker, a storage solution for baking soda, and finding more space in the kitchen.

Images: Ann Waterman

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Margaret Cabaniss 1 Margaret Cabaniss June 3, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Great suggestions, Ann! I don’t know why I’ve never tried that with ginger before; it constantly goes bad in my fridge before I can use it all. I sometimes freeze wine and chicken stock in muffin tins, which hold about 1/4-1/3 cup, and then keep the pucks in a Ziploc bag (like you said, the wine doesn’t freeze rock-solid, but it’s hard enough!). I also keep nuts in my freezer, to keep them from going rancid, as well as some spices (bay leaves, mostly).

Oh, and quickbreads, too: Because things like scones and biscuits are best eaten straight from the oven, I’ll flash-freeze the ones I don’t plan to eat right away. Just stick the unbaked dough, already shaped, on a baking sheet and pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes or so; once they’ve firmed up, I keep them in a Ziploc bag until I want them. They go straight from the freezer to the oven and only add a minute or two to the cook time. It’s great when I want to prepare something for a brunch or dinner ahead of time — or just want a last-minute, single-serving treat!

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2 Lauren June 3, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Yes! Thanks for this! Why did I never think to freeze wine? I always need a little for cooking and I don’t drink it, so I feel bad letting it sit in the fridge… great idea to freeze it for cooking later.

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3 Zoe Saint-Paul June 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Love the ideas to freeze tomato paste and wine! I freeze ginger and garlic as well as bread. The problem is always space since I keep a lot of farm-raised meats in the freezer and they take a lot of room. In our next house we’ll have a deep freezer.

I also freeze leftover pieces of fruit, including bananas and use them in smoothies. I keep bay leaves in the freezer, too. I think freezing left over stock is great idea, too.

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4 Alex June 4, 2014 at 12:53 am

The wine, the wine, but of course!! Thank you for that – so obvious, yet never crossed my mind!

I also freeze lemon juice, in little ice cube trays. We have several lemon trees and when they ripen they tend to do so at the same time (how incosiderate!). So for a few weeks a year we have an abundance of lemons… I freeze them in ice cube trays, then use them in cooking directly from frozen.

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Ann Waterman 5 Ann June 25, 2014 at 11:01 am

That’s a good one, Alex! My MIL actually brought me a bag full of lemons from FL a couple months ago and I froze the juice. It’s been nice using it for lemonade now that the weather has warmed up!

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6 'Conure' Hermary June 25, 2014 at 5:11 am

I have birds, so I store all my bird seed in the freezer. It kills any seed moths that might have been laid in the bag and it keeps things fresh :)

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Ann Waterman 7 Ann June 25, 2014 at 10:59 am

If we ever get a bird for a pet, I will keep this in mind!

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