Whenever I cook with ingredients that I don’t use regularly, I almost always end up with extra ingredients that I can’t find the time or purpose for. I hate to waste food. So, very early on, I learned how to make the freezer my best friend. Below I’ve shared a list of fresh and canned ingredients that freeze beautifully for months to a year, without a change in texture or taste. Let me know if you can think of anything else! I will add to this list as I discover new freezer friendly ingredients. Also, I’ve posted many many freezer friendly recipes throughout the years. Just look to the end of each recipe for freezing instructions, as applicable.
Ingredients That Freeze Beautifully
The following fresh or canned ingredients can be frozen for up to 1 year, without a change in texture or taste, so long as they are frozen while still very fresh and wrapped or packaged tightly.
1. fresh ginger
• You can grate the ginger straight from frozen
2. fresh small red chili peppers
• You can grate the chili peppers straight from frozen
3. coconut milk or coconut cream
• When storing coconut milk, I fill small plastic tupperware containers that hold up to 1 cup of liquid. This way, I know how much I have and how many containers I need to defrost for cooking. Be sure to top up partly filled, frozen containers with new batches of extra coconut milk to conserve space in the freezer.
4. tomato paste, tomato sauce, canned diced or pureed tomatoes
• Measure out and freeze tomato paste in 1 tablespoon portions in ice cube trays
5. fresh thyme still on the stem
• Back when I was only cooking for myself, I would buy 4 litre bags of milk (to save money) and freeze the extra bags until I was ready to drink them. Just be sure to defrost them in a bowl, as sometimes the milk bags get tears.
7. egg whites or egg yolks, separately, as long as you are planning on cooking/baking with them
• Depending on the type of dessert or custard that I make, I am often left with extra egg whites or egg yolks. I always have difficulty using all of them up within a few days, so I recently started freezing them.
• For egg whites: Freeze individual tablespoons of egg whites in ice cube trays. Then remove the frozen cubes of egg white and transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Defrost them when ready to cook/bake and use them as soon as they are defrosted. Two tablespoons of frozen egg whites is the equivalent of the egg white from one egg. Some recipes that require egg whites include: this vanilla cake and this vanilla cake, almond nougat, meringues, pavlova, gumpaste, etc.
• For egg yolks: Egg yolks need to be gently mixed with salt (scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt for 1 cup of egg yolks if you are planning on using them for savoury dishes) or sugar (1 tablespoon of granulated white sugar for 1 cup of egg yolks if you are planning on using them for sweet dishes) prior to being frozen. If you are working with less than 1 cup of egg yolks, the measurement of salt/sugar does not need to be exact. Just add a pinch of salt or sugar will suffice for small amounts of egg yolks. Freeze individual tablespoons of egg yolks in ice cube trays. Then remove the frozen cubes of egg yolk and transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Defrost them when ready to cook/bake and use them as soon as they are defrosted. One tablespoon of frozen egg yolk is the equivalent of one egg yolk. If your egg yolk gets freezer burned, it will develop a skin that looks like cooked egg. After defrosting the frozen egg yolk, I remove and discard the freezer burned part. I have used previously frozen egg yolks with great success in caesar dressing (see recipe here), aioli and mayonnaise recipes (see recipe here). Other recipes that require egg yolks include: egg wash, Julia Child’s cream of mushroom soup, cheese danishes, lemon curd, crème brûlée, my favourite sugar cookies, crêpes, etc.
8. bread, tortillas, flat bread, pita bread
9. homemade or store bought broth or stock
• You could freeze your broth in freezer ziplock bags. Be sure to squeeze as much of the air out as possible and lay the bags flat in the freezer. Then you can stack them. This takes up less space in the freezer than plastic containers or glass jars. But be sure to defrost the broth in a bowl, because sometimes the bags leak. Sometimes, I cut and peel the plastic bags off of the frozen broth and then I defrost the broth in the pot that I plan to heat it up in.
• To freeze small portions of broth, put 1/2 cup of stock into each cup of a muffin pan. Freeze the muffin pan in the freezer. Then remove the portions of frozen broth and transfer them to a freezer ziplock bag. If you are using a silicone muffin pan, the frozen blocks will be easy to remove. If you are using a metal muffin pan, place the bottom of the pan into some warm water to loosen the frozen broth from the pan.
• To freeze tablespoon portions of broth, use an ice cube tray. Once frozen, remove the frozen cubes of broth and transfer them to a freezer ziplock bag.
10. uncooked bacon
11. whipped cream
• Use a piping bag and tip to pipe whipped cream rosettes onto a silpat mat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Alternatively, you could simply use a spoon to place dollops of whipped cream onto the baking sheet. Freeze the rosettes until frozen through, and then transfer the rosettes into a freezer safe container or freezer bag. Add the frozen whipped cream rosettes to hot drinks such as coffee or hot chocolate.
• You could freeze tablespoons, sticks, or pounds of butter. Just be sure to wrap them tightly.
• Also, butter can be grated straight from frozen when making scones, biscuits, crusts, etc.
14. wine (but only if you intend to use it for cooking)
15. cooked chicken or turkey
• I realize that this isn’t a fresh ingredient, but cooked and boneless (shredded, sliced, or diced) chicken and turkey freeze beautifully. This is very convenient to have on hand for food preparation. I love freezing leftovers from a turkey dinner or roasted whole chicken for quick and easy future meals. I sometimes cook and freeze large packages of fresh chicken breasts, too.
• Use the defrosted chicken or turkey in casseroles, pot pies (see recipe here), salads, soups, pasta dishes, quesadillas, tacos, sandwiches, etc.
16. cooked pasta
17. frosting (e.g. buttercream or swiss meringue buttercream)