No more Wasted Food !! - - - What do you Freeze ?

angela12345February 16, 2010

This past weekend I made a birthday cake for my niece's birthday. I had to make a last minute run to the grocery store because I realized the expiration date on my vegetable oil was 2009 and it smelled a bit "off". I really hated to throw out a 4/5 full bottle which was what was left of the bottle that I had used to bake her last birthday cake (we don't use much vegetable oil!!). This got me wondering ... can I freeze what is left of the bottle I bought this weekend and then use it for her birthday next year ? Has anyone tried this ? Can liquid vegetable oil be frozen ??? Or at least kept in the freezer to stay fresh even if it never actually freezes ? I think I will try it just to see what happens, but hopefully someone can chime in here.

So let's hear what you guys do ... what things do you freeze ? Expecially things most people wouldn't think of. Here are some of the things we freeze ...

- Bread - as soon as we get home from the store with a fresh loaf of bread, it goes straight into the freezer. We pull out slices as we need them. They only take seconds to thaw and they thaw very very close to soft, fresh bread. Certainly softer than if I kept the loaf out for a couple days. Bread a few days old starts to get stale (blech). Long loaves of french bread and other types of bread can be frozen as well. For example, sections of french bread can be cut off and heated in foil to go with meals, or slices can be cut off to be buttered, garlic salted, and toasted for spaghetti meals, etc. This is also great for hotdog/hamburger buns and the torilla shells we use for breakfast burritos.

- Hotdogs - the whole package goes in the freezer, and we break off ever how many hotdogs as we need them.

- Cheese - before a block of cheese has any chance to be past date or to start mold, I grate up what remains of the block and put it into a zipper bag in the freezer. Whenever we need grated cheese, we reach in the bag and pull out a pinch to put in our soup or breakfast burritos or whatever, or measure out what is needed for bigger recipes.

- Butter & Crisco shortening - go straight into the freezer when I get home from the store. We pull out sticks of butter as they are needed, or cut off a half stick for a recipe and leave other half wrpped up in freezer. Crisco stays soft enough to use out of the freezer and put right back in. You can even scoop out a tiny bit, just enough to grease a birthday cake pan if that's all you need. : )

- Cooked Bacon - Cooking bacon is a pain and messy !! We cook an entire package at a time until it is very close to being done, but not quite. Place all the strips in zipper bag in freezer and pull out a few strips as needed. Microwave for just a few seconds to warm and put the finishing touches on crisping them.

- Leftovers - we always save the trays anytime we have a microwave dinner. We rarely eat them anymore, but we used to, so we have a small stack saved up. When we prepare a meal at home, we plate the leftovers into the compartments in the microwave dinner trays and wrap them to put in the freezer. These are so handy for days when you are in a hurry, you can just microwave your own home-cooked tv dinner.

- Soup/Spaghetti Sauce - we cook big pots at a time and then freeze the whole batch after dinner that night in small containers, some one-person and some two-person portion sizes. Another meal already prepared for the days when there isn't time to cook, or we just don't feel like cooking that night.

- Spices - when we get a "to go" meal from Carraba's, they give you a little cup with spices in it, packages of olive oil, and fresh bread. You mix the spices with the oil for a bread dipping sauce, but we never use all of the spices. We keep the leftovers in the little cup in the freezer and later can mix with fresh olive oil to have the bread dipping sauce with home cooked meals. Yum !

- Coffee Grounds - we do not drink much coffee. Usually only on weekends once or twice a month. We keep the coffee in an air tight jar in the freezer, and scoop out what we need right into the coffee maker as we need it. The coffee stays much fresher this way. I am sure some coffee connoisseurs will be appalled by this because there is probably something I don't know about that deteriorates the coffee this way, but it works for us !

- Beer Mugs - ok, ok, I know this does not fall into the wasted food category, but it is so nice to pull it out of the freezer and have your beer in a frosty mug !!!

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I use coconut oil (kept at room temperature) instead of vegetable oil or shortening. Coconut oil is very stable at cool room temperatures and has an extremely long shelf-life, which is important to those of us who do home food storage. Coconut oil will easily store for up to 5-years, while vegetable oil lasts 6-months at room temperature (less time if stored where it gets a lot of light, or at temperatures above 70F), or 1-year if you refrigerate it. Refrigeration is suggested rather than freezing. Check the label of the container or call the help-line on the label for more information.

Cooking oil is actually already rancid from the process it takes to make it and storage due to exposure to heat, light and oxygen during processing and home storage and use. Rancid oil doesn't have to smell rancid to be rancid. The exposure to oxygen did that long before it started to smell rancid. By the time it smells rancid, it's been that way for a long time. Cooking oil is oxidized to the point of being a body-damaging free radical. I haven't used vegetable oil or shortening in over 25 years.

If you have a FoodSaver vacuum sealer, you can vacuum-seal oil after you open it to keep the oxygen out of the container. Heat, light and oxygen are the enemy of all foods. Eliminate those and they will last longer. (See the link below.)

I store foods vacuum-sealed in FoodSaver bags in the freezer in order to prevent freezer burn, wasted food, and increase the storage time. Vacuum-sealing also helps maintain the quality of the stored foods. Once again, oxygen is the enemy of stored food, and that includes in the freezer. Freezing will slow down foods from going rancid, it just won't PREVENT it if there is oxygen present.

Vacuum-sealing will prevent moisture in foods from migrating from the food to the air and creating ice crystals, unlike zip-lock bags in which you trap air in. A true vacuum can't be done using a drinking straw and drawing air out of the bag, but that's is an improvement over a bag full of air. If you have ice crystals accumulating in your foods (especially present in bags of bread or burger/hot dog buns), you don't have it properly stored. To improve the storage of foods in the freezer, it requires as tight a wrapping as possible to prevent as much air as possible being in contact with the food.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 7:58AM
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Wish we had warm bakery fresh bread home delivery. Or better yet like an ice-cream truck driving around with fresh hot breads - and pastries - Donuts !!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 11:06AM
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I keep butter on hand for using where only small amounts are needed. Just melt, measure and use. You can wrap well and keep in freezer if you like. Freezing to me causes a texture change so I do not use the frozen as a spread.

Since margarines and spreads have more water than butter the texture and taste would be different.

Depending on what you are making you can also use various fruit pulps such as applesauce or fruit only baby food in place of the oil. This would depend on what type of cake you were making but prune is good for making chocolate cake.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 8:02PM
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I refidgerate my olive and other oils rather than freezing them -- although they can be frozen. It re-liquifies faster when not frozen.

I freeze ripe bananas - great smoothies.

I freeze meal sized bags of cooked noodles. One pound provides the two of us with 4 meals.

I freeze rice also -- so much quicker to microwave a bag for a quick stirfry.

I freese juice boxes as a healthy audult sized popcicle.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 3:46PM
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Oh, I forgot .... we do freeze donuts too. We get coupons for Dunkin Donuts for a dozen. We eat a couple that morning, then wrap the other donuts individually or in packs of 2 and thaw when needed. We love having donuts & coffee one weekend morning each week, so a dozen donuts will last us about 6 weeks, depending on how many my hubby eats at a time. : )>

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 3:49PM
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We mostly just freeze meals for grabbing on the way to work, if we don't have any readily made meals or leftovers ready. Most of the time, I make a double batch of whatever we are eating for dinner, and then freeze leftovers in serving-size containers.

Breakfast/regular burritos
Soups / Chili
Spaghetti sauce
Stir fry (loses any crispness, but still has decent texture)
Taco meat
Sloppy Joes
Soup Starters (leftover dinner veggies that aren't enough for another meal. toss the container into a vegetable stew)
Bread crumbs (my fiancee has celiac disease, so we make our own bread. it doesn't last as long, so once it starts to go stale, we dry it out and grind it up into bread crumbs)
Philly sandwich fixings (again, no crispness, but tastes good)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 11:55PM
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