How to deal with your perishable pantry before take-off
Its that time of year
Many are getting ready to fly off and visit the relatives for a couple of days or longer. If you’re at all like my family, you’ve got To-Do Lists everywhere, you’re cleaning the house, stopping the mail, considering your ride to the airport, hiring the cat sitter, etc. In all of this, everyone still needs to be fed daily!
The stocking up : using up ratio can be difficult to manage.
Perishables currently in my fridge:
- 9 eggs
- 2 pints of milk
- 2 pounds of butter (what can I say, butter’s the best!)
- 4 servings of brussels sprouts
- 1 large container of baby spinach
- 1/2 container of baby arugula, which doesn’t look too hot
- 2 cups hummus
- 8 carrots
Here’s the plan.
FREEZE AS IS
BUTTER – as is! Leave wrapped in paper, toss in a ziplock freezer bag and freeze. (To Use: move back to fridge)
MILK – transfer to measured pint containers. I like to freeze in 1.5 cup increments so we can use it up in the Ryan’s Sunday Waffles (its the ONLY thing he cooks and they’re amazing and simple). Make sure to LID and LABEL and write the volume on there.
(To Use: move back to fridge. Use milk in a recipe that gets thoroughly cooked)
HUMMUS – I like to freeze in ziplock bags. I wash and reuse almost all of my ziplocks, then their final task is for disposing of cat litter, so I don’t feel too guilty about using them to freeze. Certainly you could use anything airtight. Transfer the hummus to a bag, press out the air, label and freeze.
(To Use: move back to fridge to defrost. A good whipping gets it back into shape. I use a large metal bowl and a whisk then drizzle in a little extra olive oil for texture.)
EGGS – do you have whole eggs or just whites or yolks? I have some yolks left over from making cookies with whites only.
WHOLE EGGS – Everything online says don’t freeze in the shell. I tested it to see why – see banner photo above. Looks like art! But basically its an unnecessary mess. The shells are too brittle and they leak into the shell when freezing. Also, salmonella is only ever on the
OUTSIDE – of a shell, it gets into the egg when you crack it or in this case, if the insides leak out. Why bother? Crack your eggs and lightly scramble just to break the yolks. Don’t incorporate any air. Transfer to a small tupperware or you guessed it, a ziplock bag. You can also freeze in a dedicated ice cube tray wrapped well. Freeze only a couple eggs at a time, otherwise you have a big block that is too hard to use up once defrosted.
YOLKS – Extra yolks can be frozen alone but need a little preservative. Use 1/4 teaspoon salt OR 1 teaspoon sugar for 1/2 cup of yolks (approx. 4-5 yolks). Whisk together lightly (no air!) and freeze. Be sure to label salt or sugar and amounts so you can use it for the correct purpose later.
WHITES – freeze as is. Label how many you have together and freeze.
Using Eggs Later – For all of the previously frozen eggs, place in the fridge overnight to defrost. Use in cooked recipes. These aren’t the choice for soft scrambled eggs. Frittatas are fine, cakes, cookies, meringues, pancakes, Ryan’s Waffles, etc
They’ll freeze well for A YEAR!
COOK THEN FREEZE
LEAFY GREENS – I’m going to combine my arugula and spinach. You could apply this technique to chard, kale, escarole, basically whatever leafy greens you have! I have 2 of those morally complicated containers of washed “easy to use” baby greens, but if you have a farmer’s market bunch or larger leaves, you can use the same method. Just wash and chop into 1″ sections before proceeding.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a tablespoon of salt.
- Separate out any really rotten or slimy greens and discard. My arugula is a little wilted and smelly on the edges but the bulk of it is good. Make note to self to do this processes sooner next time!
- Add greens in batches or all at once if they fit. Push under the water and let simmer for about 30-45 seconds.
- Remove from water in to a colander and run it under cold water, tossing the leaves, until they’re cold to the touch.
- Let the leaves drain a bit, then gently squeeze baseball sized portions of the greens until they’ve lost most of the liquid.
- I like to keep the greens in baseball sized bunches to freeze. You can place each round into a bag with a little space in between. OR place on a lined baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour or until the outsides have frozen. Then transfer all of the little balls into a Tupperware container together. At this point, they can touch but won’t stick together!
(To Use: move back to fridge and defrost. Or cook frozen. I like to add a handful or two to a veggie soup or quiche. For a quick weeknight side dish: saute sliced onions and garlic in butter then add the greens and cook until warmed throughout. Use frozen greens anywhere you’d use a store bought frozen spinach.)
OTHER VEGGIES – I am overstocked on Brussels Sprouts and carrots today. This method could apply to other fresh veggies as well. We’re going to par-roast, remove some liquid and freeze them individually. When you freeze anything, the crystals that form puncture the cell walls and ruin the structure. That’s why everything is softer when you defrost it and fresh veggies don’t defrost well. By par-cooking first, you’re breaking down those walls first and in an intentional way. Par-cooked veggies will finish off in the oven much better!
- Trim Brussels (or zucchini, pepper, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli) and toss lightly with salt and oil. Place on sheet tray and cover with foil.
- Bake for about 12 minutes or until brussels are bright green, mostly tender but still a little crisp in the center, and some of the water has cooked out. Cool.
- Place in the freezer on a clean dry sheet pan to freeze individually. After about 30-45 minutes, you can transfer to a tupperware or ziplock bag to freeze together. This should freeze them separately so when you go to use them, you can pull out a handful rather than use the entire block.
(To Use: move back to fridge and defrost. Once defrosted cook with a little salt and butter in a 425 degree oven until hot and crisp as a side dish. OR chop smaller and toss into a pie crust for a quiche. OR saute with onions, garlic, olive oil and make a veggie soup base.
Not traveling? I challenge you to also use these methods if you aren’t going to get to something. Bought milk for a recipe but have a quart leftover? Freeze it for next time! Too many greens bought ambitiously? Save them before they wilt!
Safe Travels and Happy Holidays! I hope you try some of these tricks. Send me a tweet or contact me if you have something in your fridge that you want to save but are stumped!