A home chef's worst nightmare is going to prepare a dish and discovering that you’re missing a crucial ingredient. That's where your freezer can save the day. Aside from storing frozen waffles and ice cream, the freezer is the perfect place to keep crucial ingredients you might need at a moment's notice. To avoid dinnertime panic, here are 10 items you should always have stocked in the freezer
Making sauce from scratch can be time-consuming, whether it be pesto, marinara, or bolognese. Plan ahead for pasta night in advance and store your sauce in the freezer. Freezing sauce can prolong its life and maintain its flavor for up to six months. Take this hack a step further and use ice cube trays to store your sauces in perfectly equal portions so you don’t have to defrost the whole batch all at once. (When it comes to pesto specifically, add a layer of olive oil on top to prevent the basil from oxidizing.)
There’s nothing worse than leaving a loaf of fresh bread on the counter and noticing a few days later that it's gone stale. Keeping your bread in the freezer increases its shelf life tenfold — you can freeze it for up to six months. To defrost the bread, remove it from the freezer and defrost it on the counter for one to three hours. You can also defrost the loaf in the refrigerator overnight.
Left with a bunch of pancake batter after your Saturday breakfast? Instead of making extra pancakes that go uneaten, pour the batter into ice cube trays and freeze. The next time you want a pancake, simply pop a cube out and place it in a hot pan. Add blueberries or raspberries to the trays for an elevated twist.
Want to make banana bread but don't want to wait for your bananas to brown? That's not a problem if you store browned bananas in your freezer. The next time your bananas start going brown, chop them up and place them in a zip-top freezer bag. You can defrost them for your future baking adventures or pop the frozen slices into a smoothie. This works with avocados and other berries as well.
Fresh herbs go bad quickly, and constantly purchasing chives or thyme can get pricey. Instead of throwing them out, freeze your herbs. This can be as straightforward as flash-freezing them on a tray and sealing them in an airtight bag. But if you want to get really fancy, freeze your herbs in an ice cube tray with olive oil or butter to add to dishes such as soup and stews.
Stocks — homemade and store-bought — can be easily stored in the freezer in ice cube trays, plastic containers, and zip-top freezer bags for up to six months. Defrost and use the stock in homemade soups, casseroles, or other dishes.
While you can't store fresh yeast in the freezer, dry yeast does well when frozen. The best part is you don't need to thaw the yeast before using it in your baking. If you want to ensure the yeast is still good, sprinkle it in warm water with a bit of sugar and wait to see if it starts bubbling. If so, then you're all good to go.
Freezing your chocolate can prolong its shelf life by 50%. If you find yourself home without a sweet treat to cap off your night, just break off a piece of frozen chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Did you know you can keep ground coffee in your freezer for up to two years? Never go without your morning cup of Joe again by storing coffee grounds in the freezer. Pre-portion the grounds (so you don’t have to thaw and re-front an entire container) and keep them in sealed containers in the freezer.
Water bottles have a long shelf life, but if your power ever goes out, these pre-frozen water bottles can help save your frozen items. Depending on the length of the power outage, you may be forced to toss all the perishable food in your fridge. However, you can use bottles as ice packs to keep all your food fresh and cold until the power returns.
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