No doubt your freezer is stocked with ice cream, frozen veggies and a few microwave meals, but there's room for so much more. A well-stock pantry includes some key staples that last better on ice, says our Test Kitchen experts. So get these into deep freeze, stat!
When you're not feeding a passel of people every day, a whole loaf of bread can be daunting to get through within a week. A good solution? Freezing what you won't eat immediately. Then, simply pop slices in the toaster when you need them.
Yep, cheese — specifically pre-shredded cheese. This will save you time on weeknights and spare you from having to wash that tricky grater after every single cheesy meal. Just shred a block, pop portions in sealed bags and toss them in the deep chill. It cooks up just as quickly as fresh cheese (see: frozen pizza).
Past-their-prime bananas are perfect for banana bread, but not everyone has time for baking midweek. If your bunch is turning fast, stick the bananas in the freezer for later use. They're also great to add to smoothies — just peel, chop them up, stash slices in a freezer-safe storage bag and chill.
If a recipe just calls for a cup of broth, the rest of the home brew you just made or container you just opened may end up languishing in the back of the fridge — and in four days, it's time to toss it. Yep, freezing it is key for long-term storage. Just make sure you pour it into a water-tight sealed container.
Turns out that pesky knob of ginger grates much easier when frozen — just make sure you peel it before freezing. And even if you're not planning to grate your ginger, freezing still keeps ginger usable in the long term (because no one ever uses the whole thing, right?). Freeze it in 1-inch cubes and thaw before chopping.
This one may surprise you, but it's true: Nuts are a perishable good. Freezing them keeps the oils from going rancid. So if you're buying in bulk (hello, holiday baking season!), move them from the cabinet shelf to the freezer instead.
High-quality produce is hard to come by during the cold winter months. Sherry Rujikarn, associate food editor in the GH Test Kitchen, stocks up on her favorite fresh chiles at the farmers' market during warmer months and gets to work. "What doesn't wind up as hot sauce gets tossed in the freezer in a plastic bag to be plucked out all winter and spring long — no thawing necessary," she says.
Forget the labor of making a new batch every time you want a sweet treat. By freezing homemade cookie dough in individual portions, you can pop one or two in the toaster oven every time a craving strikes. An ice cube tray works perfectly for this.
If you're trying to add more whole grains to your baking repertoire, take note: Whole grain flour can go rancid like nuts and won't just forever and ever like the white stuff. It's shelf life is only a few months, but freezing will extend it.
When you buy cilantro or dill sold in large bunches, it's usually way too much for one recipe. One way to store them is by pulsing chopped-up pieces with olive oil and pouring the mixture into an ice cube tray. Later, just toss a cube or wo into a pot of sauce or soup when you need it.
Tired of waiting for water to boil every time you want rice or quinoa? You can freeze a big batch and then microwave it with a splash of water before serving.