Both home cooks and chefs can agree that food doesn't exactly come cheap these days. So, when we see items we love on sale, we want the whole stock of them.
In the beginning of a new year, we can already foresee the countless trips to the grocery store ahead. Showing up at everything from kids’ birthday parties to weekday dinners, some products make necessary and repeated appearances, and they’re worth buying in bulk. But rationality kicks in as you realize that buying 10 packages of butter or 12 industrial blocks of cheese, despite the great prices, isn't a good idea.
However, if you plan to use the product within the next year, consider filling your cart up. Meet your new best friend: the freezer.
Surprisingly, foods you typically wouldn't think of putting in arctic temperatures can not only be frozen, but sometimes are better for it. Nuts on sale for 10 cents a pound? Load them up!
Bushels of fresh herbs overflowing in your garden? Make a home for them in your freezer. Better yet, almost any food you can think of will actually keep well when defrosting time comes. If saving money isn't enough motivation, freezing can also help effectively store and portion meals so you don't overindulge.
With some heavy-duty aluminum foil, plastic bags, and plastic wrap, you can store some of your essential everyday — and party — food for months. Now you just have to clean out that freezer to make room for your new finds.
Freezing butter is easy and is especially handy when stocking up for baking season. Simply place butter in its original wrapping inside of an airtight bag or tightly wrapped in foil. When ready, remove the butter from the freezer and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before use. Butter usually lasts for up to four months, though some sources report enjoying butter a year after freezing.
Frankly, you're nuts if you don't freeze nuts! If you like to keep a variety on hand for various dishes, the freezer will definitely become your new best friend. Nuts, especially unshelled, can quickly go rancid thanks to their high fat content. Heat, moisture, light, and even their proximity to metal can cause nuts to spoil. Store them in a plastic, airtight container. Shelled nuts last for up to eight months in the freezer, but remember — one bad nut can spoil a whole recipe. Be sure to taste before using.
Hosts and hostesses alike live for the easy cheese and cracker plate. So, when blocks of cheese go on sale, feel free to stock up. Cheese can be frozen in its original packaging, but wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil, too. Soft cheese and cheesy spreads will only last one month frozen, so it may only be worth it to freeze the harder cheeses, which will last up to six months. Remember to thaw cheese in the refrigerator overnight before use.
Your freezer was born for baked goods glory. A smart way to prepare ahead of time for a celebration — or a smart way to portion your sweets — you can store all of your beloved goodies in the freezer. After cooling, wrap cookies individually in plastic and place in an airtight container for up to one month.
For bar cookies or brownies, store them unsliced, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and again in foil for three months. These should be thawed at room temperature. Store-bought breads and muffins should cool completely in the refrigerator and then be placed in the freezer unopened, where they’re good for up to two months. Quickly revive these morsels through a brief microwave session. But the fun doesn't stop there — doughs can be frozen and thawed in the refrigerator for later baking.
You can actually freeze milk with few repercussions. Simply pour out a little milk to leave room for expansion and pop it in the freezer. Once you return home, remove from the freezer and thaw in refrigerator for a day or two. Before use, give it a good shake to prevent drinking any separated milk. It's best to freeze milk at its freshest and it shouldn't be kept longer than four to six weeks. But be warned, freezing milk does change the texture and taste somewhat, so it might not be for everyone.
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