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Freezing food in little cubes

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I just froze a batch of pesto in an ice tray, and that got me thinking... what else can we make and freeze in ice trays to have handy as little cubes later, to use alone or mix and match? Some come to mind:

- Chicken stock or other stock
- Tomato sauce
- Soups
- Baby food

Anything else?

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  1. Lemon juice.
    Any kind of chopped herbs (add water for cubes--can be used in soups or other dishes)

    4 Replies
    1. re: nofunlatte

      Please say more about how you freeze herbs, With fall coming i would love to use everything growing before a frost kills it.

      1. re: chicgail

        i whiz fresh herbs with olive oil and store them in portions. no other seasonings ( a la pesto). i know some do it just with water but i know oil, once heated, will release the esters while water will not.

      2. re: nofunlatte

        Is it possible to just freeze the herbs as is sort of like when I just put the bay leaves in the freezer in a ziploc bag.

        1. re: fldhkybnva

          yes.

      3. Coffee. Use it for adding to iced coffee so it isn't diluted by water ice cubes. It will likely work for other beverages, too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: travelerjjm

          Just yesterday I used a cube or 2 of frozen leftover coffee in a pot of simmering pinto beans. Add a spoonful of molasses, and you have a wonderful background flavor.

        2. nofunlatte and travelerjjm, these are great ideas!

          1. Duxelles!
            Mushrooms spoil so darned fast and sometimes you just need a little to really make a dish "pop". I always keep several permutations of duxelles in the freezer...soups, pâté, spread on meat, throw in veggies, sauces, etc.
            ...... crimini, big portobello, shitake, chanterelle, button, wild mix, maitake.....mmmmmm.

            1. Sauteed diced onions, with or without garlic

              27 Replies
              1. re: almond tree

                Sauteed onions and especially garlic, that's a great idea. (Slapping hand to head.)

                1. re: JMF

                  I just throw raw garlic in the freezer in a ziplock.

                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    I don't use garlic every day or in huge quantities when I do use it, but I find it lasts fine just sitting out.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Except that it ages and sprouts and flavor degrades.

                      Freezing it helps preserve its flavor.

                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        I've just not had that experience. I mean unless it's there for a month or more.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          You might not notice but it does degrade in flavor.

                          The freezer preserves that to a large extent but the texture suffers. But since its garlic that rarely matters and sometimes benefits you.

                          1. re: C. Hamster

                            Well, if I don't notice it, then I'll just continue on :)

                            1. re: c oliver

                              For sure!

                              I just bought some of the best garlic ever at the Uniion Sq. farmer's market. I am using a bulb but the other three went in the freezer pronto. I wnat to preserve that flavor!

                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                I never really thought about freezing garlic. Do you just throw the bulb right into a baggie, separate into cloves and peel, or what?

                                1. re: nokitchen

                                  I used to separate and peel but now I just separate and freeze. Very easy to peel when thawing under warm water.

                                  I have also frozen whole bulbs but its easier to use when separated.

                            2. re: C. Hamster

                              I've definitely noticed my garlic after a while gets sticky and the flavor is quite pungent and degraded. I used to buy a lot at once and no longer do this because I kept discovering cloves which just weren't good to use and having to go out to get more. I might try the freezing method.

                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                It unusual for me to buy more than one head at a time unless I'm making some that REALLY garlic-heavy.

                            3. re: c oliver

                              actaully, when i did a side-by-side taste test putting 1/2 of a garlic bulb in the freezer, and leaving the other half out in the air, the stuff that was NOT frozen had much better flavor after a month.

                            4. re: C. Hamster

                              I've had lots of green little sprouts come out of garlic that's been sitting on my counter for a little bit. The thing is, when I buy it at the store it already looks like it's kind of old--so rare to find one that looks fresh. So it doesn't take long for the sprouting.

                              1. re: kmanihot

                                I have the same experience. Most of the garlic at the store is sprouting and dry and I try to pick through to find fresher heads but it's difficult and within a few weeks on the counter they for sure are sprouting.

                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                  I'm like you -- I can barely manage to buy garlic that hasn't sprouted, never mind keep it for more than a week at home. I suspect that if I were to go to the Farmer's Market, I might have better luck but grocery store garlic just doesn't seem to love me.

                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                    It's not you I think it's just old crusty stuff. It's finally excited to leave the store or warehouse it's been in for probably months to years and make it's way into our kitchens. This summer the pickings were great, but recently again it's been bad. Now literally 50% of the heads I buy are not only dried but often dry rot.

                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                      I know! I go to the store week after week thinking they'll replace the supply at some point, but it just looks like the same old heads getting older and older... I'm sure if I could go to a farmer's market or buy a CSA share I would have fresher stuff, but it's not always practical for me.

                                      1. re: kmanihot

                                        My CSA doesn't taste any better when it comes to garlic.

                                        1. re: melpy

                                          Oh, that's too bad. The cured hardneck garlic with reddish skin that's coming in right now from local growers is so tasty that I do as much as I can with it. Also it doesn't keep as well as the white, smaller-cloved heads that arrive later, so the next month or two are the time to revel.

                                    2. re: Jacquilynne

                                      Weird. Maybe it's a Left Coast/Right Coast thing? Right now I have part of three heads all bought at different times (not remembering if I had any, I bought another) over probably a month's time. The bowl I keep non-refrigerated produce in is in a pretty dark and never hot place.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        interesting. Which coast are you in? I've had this experience in both coasts over the years. I guess the place where I found the freshest garlic in store was Northern Cal (I lived in Santa Cruz, so not far from Gilroy, the "garlic city"). But even there it was hit or miss. It felt sometimes they were shipping the good stuff elsewhere...

                                2. re: C. Hamster

                                  Every summer I buy a couple of garlic braids at a farmers' market. They last well into the winter and have not yet gone bad or sprouted on me.

                                3. re: c oliver

                                  Never had this problem until I lived in New England, but damned if I can find a decent head of garlic around here. I get it from the grocery already brown in spots and sprouted. I think it's because we're so far from CA.

                                4. re: C. Hamster

                                  When I freeze garlic in a ziplock baggie, it makes everything in the freezer smell of garlic. Any tips for avoiding that?

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Hmmm... It has never made my freezer smell.

                                    Maybe double bagging it? Or maybe a glass jar?

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      TDQ, I don't have experience with garlic in the freezer, but I know if I put onions in a baggie in a plastic container with a sealed lid in the fridge, they don't stink things up like when they're just in a ziploc baggie.

                              2. Tomato paste, tho not in cubes... little 1 T scoops. Even though tomato paste comes in small cans, often only need part of one. I scoop out whatever's left onto was paper on a plate and into freezer until hard. Then into a zip bag or other freezer container.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: kseiverd

                                  I love the image of the little scoops!

                                  1. re: kseiverd

                                    Tomato past in a tube is great as well.

                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                      This is what I've been using for a few years now. Nothing goes bad and moldy!

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                        Love the paste in the tubes!

                                      2. re: kseiverd

                                        I'm really lazy with leftover tomato paste - I plop it all onto plastic wrap and roll into a tube about 3/4" to 1" in diameter. Wrap the ends and freeze, then slice off "coins" as needed.

                                        1. re: truman

                                          That is a good idea. I've tried to freeze blobs but this doesn't require any follow up, ie repackaging.

                                        2. re: kseiverd

                                          Could one do this with pumpkin puree from a can? Would it keep well?

                                          1. re: kmanihot

                                            Yes. Absolutely. We do it often.

                                            1. re: smtucker

                                              Great! I always end up with almost half a can after making the usual pumpkin recipes.

                                            2. re: kmanihot

                                              Yes, I freeze pumpkin puree all the time. Caution, though--it can get watery as it defrosts, so I drain it well before proceeding with a recipe.

                                          2. Wow! I'm going to need some extra ice cube trays--I want make all of these ideas! I love these semi-prep ideas that will cut down cooking time later on but still allow for some fresh cooking/customization.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: kmanihot

                                              I freeze all manner of sauces and stocks. Stocks are reduced to a syrup to reduce freezer space.

                                              Try cupcake trays rather than ice cube trays. I find the larger size more convenient. I also wrap in plastic to prevent the individual blocks from sticking together.

                                              1. re: Bigjim68

                                                By cupcake tray do you mean a cupcake baking pan?

                                                1. re: littleflower

                                                  Thats the one. Once frozen, I wrap each in plastic wrap and store in ziplocks

                                            2. Thai curry

                                              ~TDQ

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Thai curry paste?

                                                1. re: ellabee

                                                  Yes, it takes so much effort to make that you just make a big batch of it then freeze it into cubes.

                                                  ~TDQ

                                              2. Ice cubes made from apricot nectar, peach nectar, plum nectar or OJ. All are great in iced tea, lemonade or ginger ale. The more the ice melts, the more the flavor changes. Keeps one's palate interested.

                                                1. I've been doing this with pesto and chicken stock. I recently froze batches of caramelized onion and salsa verde (the Italian kind), but I haven't used them yet, so I don't know how well it worked.

                                                  I also freeze one-half cup or one-quarter cup portions of stock in a silicone muffin pan, pop them out, and store in Ziploc bags. This way I don't have to thaw more than I need.

                                                  The only disadvantage is that whatever I need always seems to work its way to the bottom and back of the freezer. But I'm working on a freezer organization plan.

                                                  1. I do pesto most often. Also, if I get too much of something to use up in my CSA I will cook it simply and then freeze in trays or little bags depending on what it is and then have it to add to soups, stir fries, pasta sauces, and fillings later. I do things like roasted puree eggplants (great base for pasta sauce), roasted puree butternut squash, or sautéed chopped greens.

                                                    1. Tomato paste is useful to freeze in 1 or 2 tablespoon quantities, but tomato sauce seems rarely used in such small amounts. I freeze it flat in quart bags, and always wish I had more.

                                                      Likewise, what's the application for an ice cube's worth of soup? Wouldn't you want at least a cup?

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: ellabee

                                                        Ice cubes of chicken stock are handy for recipes that call for one or two tablespoons of chicken stock. I don't freeze completed soups this way.

                                                        1. re: ellabee

                                                          good points. The cubes may be easier to thaw? Also, sometimes I want to make just a small portion of something (just for me, or just for my daughter). I guess the quart bags might work in this case, but with the cubes I could use, let's say, four or five...

                                                          1. re: kmanihot

                                                            You just break off what you need.

                                                            Thaws faster too.

                                                            The bags are a heck of a lot easier than fussing around with ice cube trays.

                                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                                              That's the way I freeze stock. Very easy to break off chunks.

                                                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                I'm afraid my OCD-ness actually likes the frozen cubes: they are so neat, so easily measured and apportioned... :)

                                                          2. I never use ice trays.

                                                            I use ziplock freezer bags frozen flat. You just break off what you need. And they store more efficiently in the freezer.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                                              and never more than 1/2 inch/1 cm thick, either. Any thicker becomes difficult to break off.

                                                              1. re: KarenDW

                                                                I have Reynaud's, so this method would not work for me.

                                                              2. re: C. Hamster

                                                                I agree C. Hamster! I use the bags for OJ, pumpkin puree, and buttermilk as well. I put 1/4 to 1/2 cup depending on the item and then just allow to thaw right in the bag. Like you stated, much more efficient in the limited freezer space.

                                                              3. In addition to pesto and tomato paste, I do red wine. It never completely freezes solid because of the alcohol, but it gets solid enough.

                                                                8 Replies
                                                                1. re: juliejulez

                                                                  Interesting!!! Just the red wine out of a bottle? And then you use it to cook? That would be a great way to store my leftover wine to be used in cooking, which right now takes up too much vertical space in the fridge in its almost-empty bottle...

                                                                  1. re: kmanihot

                                                                    Yup, just pour it right in the trays from the bottle. It defrosts really quickly too so it's good to use for cooking.

                                                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                                                      This works for orange juice, as well. And it does not freeze solid, just as wine does not, but it also defrosts fast. We do not drink OJ normally, but so many recipes call for it. It works.

                                                                      1. re: nikkihwood

                                                                        I just keep a can of orange juice concentrate in the freezer for this. Take the top off, and then put it back on, cover with plastic wrap and an elastic band to hold the wrap tight. It'll eventually start to degrade, but it keeps for a few months, and I can dole it into sauces as needed, taking into account that I need to add water to the concentrate to make up the volume of orange juice.

                                                                        I also sometimes make frothy orange julius style drinks with concentrate and milk and sugar, but it doesn't take much concentrate for that, either, so just keeping a partial can around lets me make the occasional treat.

                                                                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                          i keep both oj and lemonade concentrate in the freezer. great trick.

                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                            Oj concentrate works so well in pork and shrimp marinades. The metal cap pops back onto the cardboard cylinder.

                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                              yes. it's a frequent ingredient in my braising liquid for pork butt.

                                                                      2. re: juliejulez

                                                                        Amazing! Wish I had known about this years ago!

                                                                  2. Purees of carrot, pumpkin/winter squash, roasted peppers, chopped garlic. Super-concentrated stocks. Jams or jellies.
                                                                    Apparently, also "Leftover" wine, although this item has never existed in my kitchen.
                                                                    Generally I don't bother with the ice trays, and prefer zip bags, flattened, with the air squeezed out.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: KarenDW

                                                                      I never knew that jams and jellies were a good thing to freeze (I kind just thought they would keep for almost ever because of their sugar content...)

                                                                    2. Almost any veggie steamed and then pureed. I made all of my kid's baby food this way. Carrots, sweet potatos, green beens, peas, beats, spinach, kale. Fruits too. The left over veggie cubes when she outgrew pureees went into soups or sauces as appropriately flavored. Left over fruits either went with yogurt or as "healthy" ice cubes for "Mommy juice" aka booze

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: autumm

                                                                        Mommy Juice! :)

                                                                        1. re: kmanihot

                                                                          In my house, mommy juice = coffee :)

                                                                      2. any citrus juice
                                                                        tomatillo or any kind of cooked salsa
                                                                        chopped herbs
                                                                        herb oil
                                                                        marguerita mix - great for frozen versions
                                                                        chicken stock
                                                                        wine
                                                                        tomato paste if you buy in a can

                                                                        for starters....
                                                                        p.s. my ice cube trays hold exactly 1 tablespoon

                                                                        1. Chipotles in adobo--I never use the whole can. Might have to chop them first.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                            I just move them into glass or plastic. They keep for seingly ever.

                                                                            1. re: magiesmom

                                                                              At my Latino market I found a larger size (but not huge) in a pretty wide mouth, screwtop jar. What I had bought previously, I just transferred from the can to a jar. It seems to me that the vinegar should act as a preservative. Regardless I've not had any start to grow mold.

                                                                            2. re: nofunlatte

                                                                              Perhaps I should freeze my leftover chipotles instead, I've just been keeping them in the fridge in a jar. They seem to last a good long while.

                                                                            3. Pesto

                                                                              1. I freeze almost all things mentioned in this thread. Just today I roasted a trayful of poblano peppers, peeled and chopped them, and put in ice cube trays.
                                                                                Freezing surplus of fresh herbs in olive oil works very well as well. You just pop a cube or two in the skillet to start cooking.
                                                                                I also buy a bag of organic lemons, zest them (freeze zest in container) and freeze juice in cubes. It's really nice to pop a cube of lemon juice in your water bottle on the way out.

                                                                                I use silicone trays and have one colour for savoury stuff and another for fruity/sweet after my lemon juice smelled of garlic one time.

                                                                                1. Buttermilk.

                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: susan1353

                                                                                    I had no idea you could freeze buttermilk, the flavor doesn't degrade at all?

                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                      Some of the baking properties fade, but for things like sauces and dipe it still works fine... I've gone to the powdered stuff myself.

                                                                                      1. re: rozz01

                                                                                        Is powdered buttermilk good for baking? I never seem to use more than a quarter of the container when I need it for baking.

                                                                                        1. re: kmanihot

                                                                                          Powdered buttermilk is perfect for baking (you add it to the dry ingredients, and the water to the wet), and it keeps indefinitely in the fridge.

                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                            cool! will have to get some!

                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                              should I keep it in the fridge if it's unopened ? I mean the canister of powdered buttermilk

                                                                                              1. re: rozz01

                                                                                                I don't think it needs to go in the fridge if it's unopened and in a sealed canister. Just once you open it (or else it tends to harden and cake up).

                                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                  I haven't opened mine yet... thanks for the tip

                                                                                    2. Not in ice trays, so OT I guess, but I freeze chipotle peppers in adobo sauce on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper, then put them in individual containers of some kind. Ice trays would work.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: MsDiPesto

                                                                                        I did that until quite recently. I find they stay fine in a jar in the fridge.

                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                          This is what I do, I don't know how long I've kept them there but they seem to last a long while.

                                                                                      2. I just have to ask, what does one do with these tiny amounts of things? So I can see pesto cause it's strongly flavored so a little goes a long way. Same with tomato paste though there are easier, it seems, ways to portion that out. What would one do with a cube's worth of many of the things listed. Not being snarky at all. Just clearly missing something. Thanks.

                                                                                        45 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                          So, like what? If I already have a ziplock of something, why not add another two tablespoons. But, I do better with specific examples! :-)

                                                                                          1. re: smtucker

                                                                                            Okay, as was just written upthread, how about a cube of pumpkin puree? Or soup? Oh, wait, smt, I'm just talking about the ice cube trays, not saving small portions, which I do regularly.

                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                              So, pumpkin puree, I would be saving 1/4 cup amounts, cause that is what the muffin recipe needs. So, I would save the 1/4 cup in a ziplock bag. I save tomatillo sauce in ice cube trays cause I need two for fish tacos.

                                                                                              To me the thing about ice cube trays is not the small size, but that they are 1 tbl exactly. I can pull three for one meal, or two, or six depending on how many people I will have around the table.

                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                I agree

                                                                                                Freezing things in fussy ice cube trays makes no sense

                                                                                                That's why ziplock bags were created for.

                                                                                                Snap off a tablespoon. Or more. Or less. It's not that difficult.

                                                                                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                  Reading this and haven't actually made it to the end. But what I do is freeze in ice cube trays and then fill up ziploc bags of various sizes depending on frequency of use. I tried the "whole ziploc" thing but then you end up playing tetris with a bunch of pieces. Ice cubes in a bag maximizes space on the amount of space. Stack depending on thickness in each bag. They stack well with a little bit of force and some rolling of the bag for the emptier ones.

                                                                                            2. re: c oliver

                                                                                              Well, as I said in my reply above, I think the frozen cubes appeal to my OCD side. I like things that are neatly apportioned, easy to cut and measure. I see your point about breaking off a piece from a frozen ziplock bag, but in my experience it always freezes too hard and it's a pain to break off the amount I need without making a mess or rupturing the bag or having to take it off the bag and return it. The cubes are just neat and easy and clean.
                                                                                              Also, if I'm making a meal for my daughter, who is 2, I might use two or three cubes of tomato sauce for her little bowl of pasta. She doesn't eat more than that. If the plate is for me, I might use four or five. Then it's a matter of preference... you can break it off, and I can use the cubes, and we can all be happy with our choices.

                                                                                              1. re: kmanihot

                                                                                                I used to be a big lover of the cubes, too. I'd just pop them out of the tray and store them in a jumble together in a bigger ziplock baggie. But, lately, I've been freezing everything in my freezer flat. I think of my freezer as a file cabinet and I "file" everything upright. So, I'll measure out 2 cups of shredded chicken or cooked ground beef or diced vegetables or stock or whatever put it in my foodsaver to make a flat envelope, stick it in the freezer on a (horizontal) cookie sheet overnight so it freezes flat, then mark it (contents, quantity, date) and "file" it in the morning.

                                                                                                I love how everything is so tidy and how quickly things defrost when they are frozen "thin." Works for smaller or largers quantities of course, too.

                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                  I'm going to have to complement my cube system with your "file" system! I like it the way you describe it!

                                                                                                  1. re: kmanihot

                                                                                                    I hope you like it. I just love how orderly my freezer looks and how fast it is to defrost everything!

                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                      I even have the plastic shoebox type containers (Costco sells them). I leave the lids off and I can stack two together.

                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                        Ok, but I just have to draw the line at 3-whole punching them and putting them in a binder with alphabetized indexed tabs. "Sauces, stocks, meats, wine, soups, pastes."

                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                          Truly laughing out loud :) I agree. IS there a hyphen in "anal retentive" ???

                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                            I just feel bad I didn't alphabetize my sample listing of tabs. *Hanging head in shame.*

                                                                                                            All joking aside, I organize my "files" FIFO. FIrst in, first out.

                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                              That's a great idea. I have been freezing a lot of meat recently and it seems I grab the meat that was most recently put in first and have to force myself to use the older stuff, I froze it for a reason right? Not sure why I have a tendency to neglect it later on.

                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                I know, for me my deep freeze can be out of sight, out of mind if I'm not careful. I have an odd reluctance to use the stuff I've frozen sometimes, some kind of weird hoarding instinct or something that I have to save that until I really *need* it.

                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                  I have recently purchased some dry erase panels that stick to anything. I have one on the freezer door. I drew a rudimentary picture of the shelves and door, and then written what is in there at the approximate location. Sticky velcro holds the dry erase pen on a basement wall. We are three weeks into this "project" and it is working!

                                                                                                                  Next up is the fridge.

                                                                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                    You obviously have an upright as I do (just a small one). I 'feel' like things don't get lost in there as easily as in a chest one.

                                                                                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                      I made a spreadsheet about a year ago for the freezer and the fridge. Fridge list proved to be useless as things come and go often. But freezer list is godsend! I update it once a month, print a fresh copy and attach it to the fridge of which freezer is a part (two bottom drawers). I cross items out as I use them and add items as I put them in. The spreadsheet is divided into columns - prepared foods, vegetables, meats, etc. Now I am going through my pantry (1/2-closet with shelves) and listing everything into categories to be entered into a spreadsheet. I am also thinking about grouping some items together in plastic bins by cuisine - Japanese, Mexican, whatever; cuisines that I do not cook frequently.

                                                                                                                      1. re: herby

                                                                                                                        I've bought the plastic "shoeboxes" from Costco and recently started grouping foods the way you describe, mainly Asian and Mexican but I can see the potential. Now I just have to remember that I've done that :)

                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                          I plan to have columns on my spreadsheet - Japanese Bin, Mexican Bin - and labels on bins if necessary; I do not think that I would mistake Mexican for Japanese bin :) the printout will be in the pantry with a pen to strike out/add items just as I do for the freezer.

                                                                                                                        2. re: herby

                                                                                                                          can you come help me organize my kitchen? :)

                                                                                                                          1. re: kmanihot

                                                                                                                            Sure, that would be fun! When do we start? :)

                                                                                                                            You know that organizing "your" kitchen is way easier than organizing "mine" ?

                                                                                                                          2. re: herby

                                                                                                                            Both of those tactics (updated freezer inventory and cuisine-condiment groupings) cut waaaaay down on waste when I started meal planning in earnest several years ago.

                                                                                                                            The freezer inventory lets you easily use up frozen things as they need to be, and that starts/keeps a rotation going. The one little freezer I have, that's part of the fridge, seems a lot bigger when it's more completely and efficiently used. (I still yearn for another separate one, though.)

                                                                                                                            1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                              Oh, I know what you mean Ellabee, and wish I had a bigger freezer to store a side of lamb or whatever but it is what it is.

                                                                                                                              1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                herby, that's true, and i sorely need a fresh and unbiased organizer to help me with my kitchen. and also, btw, with my closets, basement, office space, time management, er... ok, let's start with the fridge.

                                                                                                                                ellabee, you're also inspiring me. not only cutting down on waste, but i'm sure this would also save a lot of time (the time that i spend figuring out what to do for dinner, what groceries we need etc.)

                                                                                                                                1. re: kmanihot

                                                                                                                                  Truly, if I had to name the one thing that has most improved my cooking, it's meal planning. The biggest effect at first was that I simply cooked more: Because I had the ingredients and knew what I intended to make, there was a lot less last-minute giving-up and running into town for takeout.

                                                                                                                                  But the secondary effects have been powerful, especially the freezer and fridge (whiteboard) inventory.

                                                                                                                                  The benefits of planning only a few days ahead, as I do mostly, are as great as for a week or longer, and I'd encourage anyone new to it to start that way and work up to longer plans if necessary/suitable*. It's that old thing about the huge difference between zero and one.

                                                                                                                                  *A lot depends on household size, who cooks & helps, schedule, and grocery/market locations, etc.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: kmanihot

                                                                                                                                    Just to bring it back on-topic, it wasn't until I started meal planning that I managed to start using up all the little cubes of things I'd frozen because they'd be so handy *someday*...

                                                                                                                          3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                            TDQ, I had to laugh at what you said... I'm the same way! Saving everything for "some day"--not only frozen stuff, but pantry items. And then one day I realize it's all getting old and needs to be consumed all at once, even though there's fresh produce and other things in the fridge that make cooking from cans kind of silly...

                                                                                                                            1. re: kmanihot

                                                                                                                              Exactly! How do you know when today is "some day"?

                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                              Replying to this. Yeah I would never freeze any kind of protein in cubes. Protein are in bags or some thing larger,I think this conversation is for chutneys or seasonings of the herbal kind vs the spice kind. & Stocks too.

                                                                                                              1. re: ItSnotjavi22

                                                                                                                Yep, I freeze all of those chutneys and stocks etc. flat and "file" them, especially stock, actually. Defrosts much more quickly. Some of those smaller things I will put, flat, in a larger ziplock baggie so they don't get lost, but the over all effect is still flat.

                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                  I am so glad I read this thread today... my 6x12" vacuum sealer bags will arrive in today's mail and I love the idea of putting them upright in a shoe box instead of stacking flat because they always slide when you're trying to look through them. I already use them in my cabinets, why not the freezer?!!?

                                                                                                                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                    How do you use them in your cabinets? I am re-organizing my kitchen and would love space saving advice!

                                                                                                                    1. re: herby

                                                                                                                      One is full of teas, others of spices that don't fit in the spice cabinet (grouped by food type so if I'm making Indian I grab the one that has all of the right spices,) one of those little random packages of things that otherwise get lost or messy. They're labelled so I know which one to grab. They stack with the lids on, too. You do have to measure your cabinets BEFORE you buy containers so you can figure out which ones will work for you, though.

                                                                                                          2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                            I often have to cut recipes down for 2 servings. So when a full recipe that makes 8 servings calls for a half cup of wine, I only actually need 2 tbsp. I don't want to open an entire fresh bottle for 2 tbsp of wine. So the little cubes of wine in my freezer are great for that :) My trays are roughly 2 tbsp per cube.

                                                                                                            1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                              Wow, I thought that leftover wine was called "dessert." :)

                                                                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                Frequently that's what we tell our server in a restaurant :)

                                                                                                                1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                  Well, I don't drink a lot, too many calories. Back when I didn't care about such things I could easily drink a bottle by myself. Nowadays, a glass or two suffices :)

                                                                                                                2. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                  Wow, freezing wine, never would have thought of that. I don't drink it but I cook with it but I don't think I've yet to use an entire bottle before I bought a new one because the one on the counter seemed a bit old.

                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                    You can refrigerate it also.

                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                      Yeah as I mentioned above it never freezes totally solid, but if you leave in the ice trays it is solid enough to keep it from going bad. Now, I wouldn't drink it straight after freezing it but it works just fine for sauces etc.

                                                                                                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                        Funny you say that - did you try drinking wine after freezing? There is a program on Canadian TV called Shopping Bags where two women test all kinds of things to determine what is the best brand of bandages or how to preserve wine or whatever. They tested various gismos and techniques - the conclusion, to everyone's surprise, was that frozen wine tastes the best of all other preservation methods! I have not tried it yet just because there is never leftover wine to be found :)

                                                                                                                        1. re: herby

                                                                                                                          hahaha, that's cool! and it makes me think that i used to like sucking on frozen cubes of juice when i was younger. so why not just make it a wine slush/granita kind of thing...

                                                                                                                          1. re: kmanihot

                                                                                                                            A hundred years ago, I was babysitting; it was late night, and the kids were asleep. The parents gave me free rein of the fridge for snacks and drinks, so I rummaged through the freezer and found some slushy "flavored" cubes. One was good, a bunch more were a whooooole lot better. Found out later it was gin. (Came from a teetotaler home, so I had no idea.)

                                                                                                                            I was asleep when the parents came home. They kept me as a babysitter, though.

                                                                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                              :D

                                                                                                                3. Other than other items that were already mentioned:

                                                                                                                  Chilies in Adobo (I blend the entire can and freeze the result)
                                                                                                                  Sofrito
                                                                                                                  Pesto

                                                                                                                  1. Could you freeze sauerkraut? One ice cube worth would be enough for one hot dog.

                                                                                                                    1. Pureed butternut squash for my dogs. Before I go to the gym, I take out two and put in food bowls. When I get home, cubes have mostly melted, I add the rest of their food and serve doggie breakfast.

                                                                                                                      1. Lime juice, when limes are cheap, plentiful, and actually have some juice. Sometimes I'll buy all of them in the market, more than 100. I got a lot of practice juicing 25KG sacks of Valencia oranges in Mexico, when they had the good ones from Veracruz. Pricier, but worth it.

                                                                                                                        1. Has anyone tried freezing chimichurri sauce? I'm about to make a batch with celery leaves (because I have an awful lot of celery leaves). I can't think of a reason this won't work, but if you can, please advise.

                                                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: small h

                                                                                                                            I don't see the need to freeze it. It keeps well refrigerated, although it predictably loses the benefit of fresh made almost overnight. Before I started making my own, I used the jarred Badia chimichurri that would keep for weeks after opening, but I'll never buy jarred again because home made is infinitely better.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                              Noted. I'll just stick it in the fridge, then. I made pesto recently, and it got gross pretty fast ("pretty fast" in my world is a week), so I was concerned the same thing would happen to the chimichurri.

                                                                                                                              1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                Freeze pesto (made without Parm) in ice cube trays and transfer to a Ziploc bag - it will last a winter and won't go gross :)

                                                                                                                                1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                  Why leave out the cheese? I am planning to make more pesto and freeze it. Or hang ornaments on my basil plant and use it as a Christmas tree, one or the other.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                    i just whiz basil with oil and freeze portions like that. i don't always want pesto, but then i have "fresh" basil in winter.

                                                                                                                                    as up-thread, i far prefer freezing everything flat vs. cubes. i also don't like washing ice cube trays.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                      yes, the ice trays sometimes are annoying to wash, especially if the food was a bit greasy. so many little nooks and crannies, and i always splash myself with water when i rinse them.
                                                                                                                                      i've been using special trays that i originally bought when my daughter was a baby and starting to eat solids. those trays, which come with a lid (nice to keep away smells), are dishwasher safe. as long as there's enough room on the top rack, i pop them in the dishwasher and they come out clean.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: kmanihot

                                                                                                                                        These trays with lids are great and easy to pop cube out of. I have not been washing plastic in dishwasher for ages and do not have an issue with handwashing the trays.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: small h

                                                                                                                                      To my taste, something unpleasant happens when I freeze with cheese. I also not always want cheese in the dish but do not mind other ingredients.

                                                                                                                              2. re: small h

                                                                                                                                I've found it freezes fine.

                                                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                  Excellent, thanks. I made too much. As usual.

                                                                                                                              3. Pumpkin puree!

                                                                                                                                1. One of the farmers at the Saturday Santa Monica sells reasonably priced pints of organic lemon juice and convinced me to freeze it in ice cube trays. it was one of the best things I've ever done re cooking.

                                                                                                                                  1. After freezing the pesto (and all the other items listed by others), pop them out of the tray and into freezer bags. Label and date the bags. The bags take up far less room than the trays.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Loufa

                                                                                                                                      Better yet, freeze them flat in ziplock and break off what you need. Easier and way more efficient. They store much more easily too.