Monday, November 12, 2007
Can You Freeze It?
I never used to use my freezer much: It was mostly a repository for sad, unwanted bags of edamame and chicken breasts that had been bought in a surge of good intentions and hurled into the freezer, undated, to die a slow death of freezer burn. I knew I ought to use my frozen food but I could never remember to thaw it in time for dinner.
These days I have become better about using what's in my freezer, thanks to a couple of good habits I've picked up from friends and family. First came the purchase of a Sharpie pen, which I keep in the kitchen next to the fridge. I have trained myself to use it to write the date of purchase on everything I buy just before I put it into the freezer. This has helped a lot, as I now never have to stare at something and wonder if I'm playing Russian Roulette by thawing and eating it. Also, of course, if I have multiple bags of the same thing I can use the oldest one first.
I got another good idea from my brother when I was visiting him last year: he pulled some pork chops from the freezer for dinner and I noticed that they were in a vacuum-sealed freezer bag rather than in regular plastic wrap or store wrap.
"Do you have a FoodSaver?" I asked.
"Yes, and we use it all the time," he answered, and went on to explain that he and his wife often went to Costco and that the FoodSaver allowed them to make bulk purchases and freeze them. This impressed me, since they face the same problem I do: how to shop in bulk when you only have one or two people to shop for. I gave the matter some thought and wound up purchasing a FoodSaver from Amazon, half wondering if I would ever use it.
I do, and it works. Once I'd used it a few times I started making larger recipes and freezing the leftovers with great success. I don't use it for everything - I freeze soup quite often, as it makes a good work lunch, and I usually use Tupperware or other lidded plastic storage bowls for that. Lots of things freeze well in ziplock bags, too (pasta sauce does very well in ziplocks). But for freezing meat or chicken, or baked stuffed potatoes (which freeze really well, BTW), I think the FoodSaver does an excellent job.
As for remembering to thaw things... well, I'm still working on that one, but as long as I remember to move the food into the fridge the night before I want to eat it, my system as a whole works pretty well. I've also found that when I freeze more dinner-ready foods it's easier to remember to use them than it is to remember to thaw a solid block of frozen chicken.