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If the freezer brings to mind nothing but disconcerting TV dinners and soggy vegetables, it’s time to rethink the unsung hero of the appliance world. The freezer is a gift! It is the simplest device for preserving food and can be your ally in keeping fresh things fresh and alleviating waste. And with a little know-how you can use the freezer to your best advantage, even for foods that aren’t normally associated with taking to a deep chill kindly. Here are some of the more surprising options.
If your cookie recipe leaves too many cookies laying around for indiscriminate eating, you can always freeze part of the batch. Portion out the dough onto baking sheets and freeze, then remove from the sheet and store in an airtight container in the freezer.
9. Citrus fruits
While fruits with a high water content generally suffer for texture after being subjected to the freezer, you can still freeze them. We are often left with an abundance of citrus — thanks to a productive tree or a crate of holiday clementines. You can make juice and freeze it, or freeze the fruit. Here’s what the National Center for Home Food Preservation suggests: Wash and peel. Divide fruit into sections, removing all membranes and seeds. Slice oranges if desired. For grapefruit with many seeds, cut fruit in half and remove seeds; cut or scoop out sections. Pack fruit into containers. Cover with cold 40 percent syrup made with excess fruit juice or water. Leave some room, seal and freeze.
You can freeze chocolate without impunity! But chocolate is a fussy thing and requires TLC. Wrap it well to keep it moisture-proof and resistant to picking up odors, then — and this is important — put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours before putting it in the freezer. On the way out, do the same: Let it rest in the fridge for 24 hours before eating it. Quick changes in temperature do not a happy chocolate make, but with gradual staging in-between all should be fine.
This is an awesome thing to know: Instead of being forced to eat an entire cake before it gets stale, you can slice it, freeze the individual slices and remove them as suits your sweet tooth. Some cakes are delicious eaten frozen, others may prefer to thaw first. Either way, you can have your cake and eat it too. (That said, icings with egg whites may not fare so well.).
If you only use buttermilk for baking, chances are you have leftovers. While thawed buttermilk can separate like other dairy, it is still perfectly suitable for baking afterwards. If you freeze it in measured amounts, you can then just remove the amount the recipe calls for.
While commercial sandwich bread has the supernatural ability to stay fresh on your counter for unusually long periods of time, freshly baked baguettes and the like are not so happy after a day or two. All of it can go in the freezer and when it comes out, it’s exactly as good as it was the minute it went in. If you cut baguettes into slices or hunks prior to freezing, you can remove just as much as you need.
You might have already known you can freeze butter. But if you never thought about it, go ahead and freeze your butter with reckless abandon. Freeze in blocks, sticks, or make pats for individual usage. This is good for when butter is on sale … as well as for always having an emergency supply on hand.
It may not be that surprising that you can freeze bananas, but what you can do with said frozen bananas is kind of astounding: Aside from being the perfect smoothie ingredient, you can make this one-ingredient soft serve “ice cream” that really, really tastes like ice cream. It’s magic.
2. Baked goods
Although they may seem too fragile in texture, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, brownies and the rest of the baked goods family can be frozen without detriment. If you store them in resealable bags, you can sneak them out individually as needed.
Storing slices of avocado in the freezer doesn’t work perfectly, but freezing pureed avocado does. Add 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice per avocado before pureeing to ensure that the fruit doesn’t discolor, then pack in an airtight container and freeze.
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