Updated: Nov 4, 2020
Well. Here we are again.
Another Lockdown looming over us, and I have to confess I don't quite know how to feel.
I can't say I'm shocked, but equally I don't think the reality has sunk in just yet.
Having the schools open and childcare in place is a massive relief without a doubt. But I can't help but worry for our nation's physical, mental and economic wellbeing.
I don't think I have ever felt more aware of 'living through history' (except perhaps when the whole Brexit debacle kicked off).
Such horribly uncertain times, and no right or wrong answer. It is just exhausting.
So, I thought the best thing I can do is something constructive.
Something practical to help people at least feel a little more in control in this time of ever-increasing uncertainty.
So here are three of my top tips for those that aren't already versed in the way of The Full Freezer...
Tip #1 - Open Freezing
Did you know, you can freeze most fruit and vegetables?
A useful technique to stop your food ending up clumped together is to 'open freeze' it. It's a bit like the big manufacturers do before they freeze bags of summer berries and such.
All you need to do is spread your food out on a baking parchment lined, flat surface that will fit in your freezer (such as a baking tray, plastic plate or Tupperware lid) and pop it in the freezer for a few hours before transferring it to a labelled freezer bag.
You can do this with berries, slices of apple or banana, peppers, onions and much much more. You can even freeze leftover tinned fruits. Fruit can be eaten frozen (careful of the choking hazard with kids), made into smoothies, or cooked with.
Veg can (and should!) be cooked from frozen (not used for salads!) - see tip #2 for an important issue with veg. Also visit Can I Freeze It for weekly videos showing how to freeze specific items and how to use them.
Tip #2 - Blanching & Freezing Veggies
Blanching is a technique used to stop enzymes from continuing to break down your veggies whilst they're in the freezer.
To 'blanch' a vegetable, just cut it up however you'll want to cook with it later, then chuck it into a pan of boiling water. You only need to blanch for 1-6 minutes depending on the size of the pieces. Once the time is up, drain it and put it straight into some ice water to stop it cooking.
You can get away with not blanching some veg such as onions, mushrooms, peppers and courgette. These tend to freeze pretty well without, and if you cook them from frozen, I don't think it's noticeable that they haven't been blanched.
I find blanching particularly useful with veggies such as sweet potato, butternut squash potatoes and carrots. It definitely makes a difference to the quality of the veggie post-freezer.
For potatoes, check out my insta to see how you can make your tatties into roasties for Christmas. You can also make chips, wedges or mash to avoid any waste!
If you're in a rush and have a bag of carrots going bendy, I recommend grating them with a food processor (if you don't have a food processor, you're probably best just slicing and blanching them!). Open freeze and voila, grated carrot ready to be chucked into bolognese, curries and maybe even a cheeky carrot cake.
Tip #3 - Use By Vs. Best Before AND Freezing
It's important to know the difference between the Use By and the Best Before dates on food.
Use by dates are for our safety, and food should not be eaten after this date. Even if it looks and smells okay, food can still make you sick after the Use By date.
You can freeze this food right up until the Use By dates (as long as it has been stored correctly following the instructions on the pack) - you don't have to freeze on the day of purchase.
Best before dates just mean the food is better quality before that date. You can still eat food after the best before, and you can even freeze it after the best before providing there are no signs of mold or decay (e.g. freezing breadcrumbs made out of stale bread).
I hope these tips help to get you started with home freezing, and help to highlight how you could be using your freezer more effectively.
If you're still feeling a little unsure, or you need some extra support to get you on the right track, you may like to book a Power Hour.
In this we focus in on your specific challenges (time, food waste and inspiration are usually the biggies), and I highlight quick and easy changes that you can make. These sessions are all about identifying some quick and easy wins to help you start making changes fast!