Food

Flash Freezing Has Changed My Life

My freezer has never looked so good.

Seriously, you ought to come check it out.

There’s probably a 4 course meal in there right now, maybe more if you are the kind of person to ask for 2nd helpings at the dessert table.

In addition to some frozen meat products and frozen dumplings, we have homemade varieties of:

1. cranberry cream scones-individual wrapped and ready for baking

2. English muffins (yes, homemade, yes wayyyy better than anything you can buy at the store)

3. whole-wheat bread-individually sliced and ready for toasting

4. Cinnamon-spice cookies-individual cookie dough balls ready for baking

5. Chocolate Chip cookies-see above

6. Mango sorbet

7. Dulce de Leche Ice cream

And there is more, people.

I wish I had started doing this sooner.  This whole flash-freezing revelation now allows me to:

1. Have hot-out-of-the-oven scones ready for workmen coming over to fix stuff at our apartment (and believe me, food = happiness = less stress = our appliances stop trying to kill me)

2. Satisfy a hankering for a fresh chocolate chip cookie without having to make a whole batch

3. Serve the hubs homemade bread or english muffins that have’t gone moldy from sitting on the counter for 24 hours-a perennial problem in our humid climate.  Pre-slicing and wrapping individual 2-3 slice portions also saves time during the morning rush.

4. Be ready for an impromptu potluck or spontaneous dinner/brunch plans at Chez Dumm on a moment’s notice and without too much mess.

5. Bring a food gift over to a new acquaintance’s house without inducing an awkward “oh, wow that looks great but I just ate…/ohh I don’t like cookies/ohh I’m allergic to gluten/dairy/chocolate” episode (though let’s be clear, if your new pengyou doesn’t like cookies, you might want to just cut your losses right then and there)

Sounds weird but you know how when you meet someone new you don’t really know what they like?  And on the flip side, they probably don’t yet know what a culinary genius you are yet either.  I hate visiting anyone empty-handed though so frozen cookies are perfect.

They can be made right away with minimum fuss or saved for later when your new friend has a serious cookie hankering.  Worst comes to worst, if your new friend hates cookies or can’t eat them, she can always toss them out later without feeling awkward.  I’m just saying its a win-win-win situation.

Of course if the two of you choose to devour the raw cookie dough on the spot while watching chick flicks and having girl talk–well then, I salute you and your new (and bound to be fabulous) friendship.

Yes, flash freezing allows me to live up my domestic superwoman fantasies, serving homemade goods fresh out of the oven while shielding my friends and guests from the destroyed kitchen and the (always attractive) “hot mess” look that I’ve come to perfect during my short cooking and baking career.

I’m realizing that pretty much everything can be flash-frozen but here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Whatever you are freezing, make sure it is completely cooled or cold before packing it up.  For bread products, this just means things should be at room temperature, ditto for cookies and other dough.  For ice cream products, meats, or sauces, I think you want to cool them in the fridge then put in the freezer to prevent icy-mushiness when you rewarm.

2. For cookies, scoop into individual portions, freeze uncovered until firm then bulk bag in a ziplock.  Our freezer is pretty narrow so I usually cover a few plates with parchment paper and let the cookies chill out on that for about 30 minutes before tossing the parchment paper and transferring them all to a big freezer bag.  This way they don’t clump up in a big cookie dough mess.

3. If it tastes better fresh out of the oven, then freeze it in dough form.  This goes for things like biscuits, scones, and pretty much anything that depends on baking soda or baking powder for leavening I think.  Yeast things are usually better baked and then frozen.

4. When in doubt, wrap up individual portions in cling-wrap or foil then store in a freezer bag. This is not the most environmentally-friendly advice I’ll ever give you but it does help with freezer burn and makes it easy to serve just as many portions as you need for a given occasion.

I’ve covered mostly simple baked goods but here are some other flash freezing ideas that I’ve used or heard of being used successfully, so go wild friends:

1. Freeze homemade soup stocks into ice cube trays then store in a freezer bag (or leave in the ice cube tray).  When you need stock just toss in a few cubes

2. Freeze individual portions of spaghetti sauces, meatballs, dumplings, and other dinner foods.

3. Freeze purees of basil, mint, and other herbs for use in sauces and cocktails (this one is is especially helpful if you live in a place where you can’t get either very readily, or if you have herbs taking over your garden plots).  Simple blend in a food processor with a little bit of olive oil or sugar (whatever is appropriate) and freeze either in ice cube trays or small tupperware containers.

4. Do you like the concept of a homemade brunch but hate the early morning kitchen work?  Flash freezing is your friend.  Freeze some muffins (baked) bread (baked) and anything else you can think of early in the week.  Freeze some caramelized apples and fruit compotes to serve with pancakes or toast.  The night before, make a french toast casserole or cinnamon rolls (rolled, formed and allowed to rise in the fridge overnight).  Then the next morning, all that’s left to do is make some eggs, fry up some sausages or bacon, and warm everything else up in the oven.

That’s all I’ve got on flash-freezing for now friends but let me know what else you’ve successfully frozen to great effect.  There’s still a little room left in our freezer for a few more things…

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