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Freezer Series: Herbs

by Beth Montgomery on August 6, 2009 · 0 comments

in Frugal Cooking, Frugal Series


While drying is the traditional method of preserving fresh herbs, freezing is becoming more popular. Most herbs freeze best on the stalk without much hassel or preparation. Even better, herbs cut easily when frozen without being thawed first, so you can easily drop them into stews, casseroles, and other meals.

Freezing fresh herbs makes me more likely to use them, since it’s simple to pull them out and toss in a recipe quickly.

Herbs can be frozen using two different 2 methods. Either will work just fine with different results.

TRAY FREEZING
You can tray freeze herbs very easily and quickly. Wash first and pat dry, then spread out on a tray and put in the freezer. Once the individual pieces are frozen, drop them in a freezer baggie to store long term. Pull out what you need as you need it and toss it in your favorite dish.

ICE CUBE FREEZING
For fresher herbs, divide into individual servings (e.g., 2-3 leaves or 1 tablespoon). Fill an ice cube tray half way with water. Drop in one serving of herbs onto each ice cube and put in the freezer. When frozen, fill the remainder with water, trapping the herbs in the center of the cube. Once completely frozen, remove the cubes from the tray and place in a freezer baggie for long term storage. When ready to use, toss the entire ice cube into your favorite dish.

Check out the entire Freezer Series HERE to see what you missed!

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Freezer Series: Dairy & Eggs

by Beth Montgomery on July 30, 2009 · 1 comment

in Frugal Cooking, Frugal Series


Yes – shockingly enough dairy products can be frozen! Milk, coffee creamer, and even yogurt can be frozen to use at a later date.

5 TIPS FOR FREEZING DAIRY PRODUCTS
1) When freezing a liquid, such as milk, juice, or creamer, pour a small bit before freezing to allow for expansion.

2) Most dairy products, like milk, creamer, juice, and yogurt can be frozen in their store bought packaging.

3) Eggs can be stored in a regular refrigerator safely for up to one month, so freezing is often unnecessary.

4) Most dairy products will lose their texture as they thaw. Shake thawed liquids well before serving to restore smoothness. Use thawed yogurt to make smoothies or use in a recipe, instead of eating it from the container. Flavored yogurt freezes better than plain.

5) Only freeze cream cheese or sour cream to use in a recipe, because it will appear unappetizing when it thaws.

Each dairy or egg product must be prepared to freeze differently and some just don’t work at all. Check HERE for a list of dairy products and how to freeze them to perfection. Frozen dairy products do expire, so use the guide below to help you out:

Butter or Margarine: 6-9 mths
Soft Cheese, Dips, or Spreads: 1 mth
Hard Cheese or Semi Hard Cheese: 6 mths
Cottage Cheese: 1 mth
Ice Cream: 1 mth
Milk/Creamer: 3 wks
Whipped Cream, Sour Cream, Yogurt, & Cream Cheese: 1 mth
Egg Whites or Substitutes: 12 mths

Check out the entire Freezer Series HERE to see what you missed!

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Freezer Series: Breads

by Beth Montgomery on July 23, 2009 · 3 comments

in Frugal Cooking, Frugal Series


Breads are another very simple item to freeze. I love to use fruit that is just about to go bad to make some delicious muffins, pancakes, or bread. In fact, I used some old strawberries recently to make some delicious strawberry bread for a quick breakfast one morning. It’s currently in the freezer waiting!

5 TIPS FOR FREEZING BREADS:
1) You can store loafs of bread, rolls, cookies, and other baked bread items from the grocery store directly in the store packaging. However, freezer burn may occur if left in the freezer for too long. To avoid, place in a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible.

2) When freezing homemade baked breads, allow them to cook and cool completely before freezing.

3) When freezing items like rolls, biscuits or muffins, it’s a good idea to tray freeze them first.

4) Use wax paper to separate pancakes, crepes, or waffles when freezing, so they don’t stick together.

5) Wrap breads in aluminum foil and place in a freezer bag or double bag with a freezer bag to avoid freezer burn.

Breads can be frozen for up to 3 months if your freezer’s temperature is below 0. Crackers or crisp breads and yeast breads will last up to 6 months. Thaw at room temperature before enjoying!

DOUGHS & BATTERS
Doughs and batters can be tricky. Unless you are using a bread dough commercially designed for freezing, I don’t recommend trying to freeze it. However, pizza dough can be frozen safely in a freezer baggie for a few weeks. Thaw in refrigerator before using.

Pancake, crepe, and waffle batters can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 week if your freezer’s temperature is below 0. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Check out the entire Freezer Series HERE to see what you missed!

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Freezer Series: Fruits

by Beth Montgomery on July 16, 2009 · 0 comments

in Frugal Cooking, Frugal Series


As I mentioned in Freezer Series: Vegetables, fruits and vegetables are a bit trickier to freeze than meats. Mainly because they won’t thaw out and be beautifully fresh and ready to eat raw. Instead, I recommend, only freezing fruits and vegetables to use in meals you’re going to prepare. By freezing fruits and vegetables, you can significantly increase the shelf life and have ingredients for meals ready to simply pull out.

When it comes to freezing fruits though, I prefer to use the fruit to make bread, muffins, pancakes, or some other delicious recipe to freeze instead of freezing raw fruit. However, fruits can be frozen just like vegetables to toss in pies and other delicious recipes when you need them.

Each fruit needs to be prepared to freeze differently. Many will brown during freezing and need some extra work before freezing to avoid this. Most require a bit of sugar or syrup to stay sweet and increase their shelf life.

Try freezing small fruits on a cookie sheet first, then moving the small frozen pieces to a freezer bag. This will allow you to be able to pull out just a few to toss in pancakes or another favorite recipe.

Visit HERE for a great detailed chart on each fruit and how to freeze it to perfection.

Frozen fruits keep approximately 8-12 months if your freezer temperature is below 0. Unsweetened fruits will go bad more quickly than those packed in sugar or syrup.

SUGAR OR SYRUP PACKING
To freeze fruits using sugar pack, sprinkle the required amount of sugar over the fruit. Gently stir until the pieces are coated with sugar and juice. To make sugar syrup, dissolve the needed amount of sugar in cold water. Stir the mixture and let stand until the solution is clear.

Check out the entire Freezer Series HERE to see what you missed! And get some wonderful tips for making delicious freezer jam on Money Saving Mom HERE.

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Fruits and vegetables are a bit trickier to freeze than meats. Mainly because they won’t thaw out and be beautifully fresh and ready to eat raw. Instead, I recommend, only freezing fruits and vegetables to use in meals you’re going to prepare. By freezing fruits and vegetables, you can significantly increase the shelf life and have ingredients for meals ready to simply pull out.

For example, I love to buy produce like onions and peppers when they are very cheap. When I get home, I dice them up into small pieces and place on a cookie sheet to freeze. When the small pieces are frozen, I dump them into a large freezer baggie, so when I’m cooking a meal that calls for onions or peppers, I can simply grab a few out and toss them in! They don’t even need to thaw before being tossed a in a recipe and cooked. It’s so simple, I’m more likely to use them!

Each vegetable needs to be prepared to freeze differently though. While some can be frozen raw, others need to be blanched or cooked first. Visit HERE for a great detailed chart on each vegetable and how to freeze it to perfection.

Frozen vegetables keep approximately 12-18 months if your freezer temperature is below 0.

BLANCHING
When freezing some raw vegetables, it’s important to blanch first. Enzymes cause vegetables to lose their flavor and color, making them less appealing or even inedible when thawed. Blanching stops these enzymes.

To blanch, boil 1 gallon of water in a large pot. Only blanch 1 pound of vegetables per gallon of water at a time. Submerge vegetables using a cheese cloth, strainer, or basket. Immediate pack vegetables in airtight containers in family size portions.

Check out the entire Freezer Series HERE to see what you missed!

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Smoothies are a healthy, delicious treat for breakfast, snack, or anytime! They are one of my families favorite treats, because my kids think they are eating ice cream for breakfast, but in truth I’ve hidden tons of nutrients inside. Plus, it’s something I can throw together with whatever I have on hand. It’s a great way to use up some extra fruit or yogurt.
Below is a generic recipe that you can customize to fit what you have on hand and what your family enjoys!
INGREDIENTS
1 Cup Plain (or Flavored) Yogurt (Fresh or Thawed)
1 Cup Juice, Water, or Ice
1-3 Cups Diced or Crushed Fruit &/Or Vegetables (Fresh or Frozen)
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve.
Try classic recipes like strawberry-banana, or mix it up and try something new like apricot-pineapple. Try tossing in a delicious spice like 1/8 tsp of cinnamon to add a new flavor to your mix. You can also add protein powder (1 TBSP), skim milk (1 TBSP), or flax seed (1 tsp) to make it healthier!
BANANA-ORANGE SMOOTHIE
1 Cup Plain Yogurt (Fresh or Thawed)
1 Cup Orange Juice
1 Cup Bananas (Fresh or Frozen)
1 Cup Strawberries (Fresh or Frozen) (optional)
TROPICAL SMOOTHIE
1 Cup Plain Yogurt (Fresh or Thawed)
1 Cup Ice Cubes
1 Cup Bananas (Fresh or Frozen)
1 Cup Strawberries (Fresh or Frozen)
1 Cup Mangoes (Fresh or Frozen)
APRICOT-PINEAPPLE SMOOTHIE
1 Cup Plain Yogurt (Fresh or Thawed)
1 Cup Ice Cubes or Water
1/4 Cup Pineapple (Fresh or Frozen)
1 Cup Apricot (Fresh or Frozen)
1 Cup Strawberries (Fresh or Frozen) (optional)
1 Cup Bananas (Fresh or Frozen) (optional)
Watch for a delicious recipe for Banana-Carrot Smoothies coming soon in the Freezer Series!
Want more delicious recipes? Check out my recipe page HERE.
Have a great smoothie recipe or flavor you love to whip up? Share!

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