Freezer Hacks: How to make the most of your freezer
You might think that your freezer is for storing meats and ice cream (separately, of course). That’s true. But a freezer can also change the way you prepare food and cook. It can even help with a lot of your day-to-day things. LG want to make sure your freezer or fridge-freezer combo is living up to its full potential, so we have collected some of our favourite freezer hacks to share with you.
Using your freezer for … Family meals
If you were to list the appliances in your kitchen that are essential for cooking, you would probably mention the oven, the microwave and the hob. You may not think that the freezer is as important. But LG consider the fridge-freezer the hub of the entire kitchen.
There are many ways it can come in useful, especially when you’re cooking for the whole family.If you’re low on inspiration for ways to improve meal times, here are three things your freezer could do to help:
1. Preserve herbs in the freezer
If you’re always finding yourself discarding herbs that have withered in the fridge, this simple trick will make them last much longer. It will also save you time preparing them in the future.
Once you’ve used what you need from a bunch of herbs, take the rest of the sprig and chop it up (try not to cut through the leaves). Take an ice cube tray and pack the herbs cosily into the slots, leaving a little bit of space in each section. Then pour over boiling water. This blanches the herbs, helping to lock in the strong flavour. Give the water plenty of time to cool down and once it’sat room temperature, put the tray in the freezer.
You can then simply add these herbal ice cubes directly to your cooking– the ice will melt, leaving the herbs to do their thing.
2. Freeze food before cooking
If you’re making a large meal (such as lasagne or chilli) that you won’t eat all in one go, leave aside a serving before you cook. Freezing food before – rather than after – cooking helps preserve much more of the flavour.
Later, if you cook straight from the freezer, make sure you serve the dish piping hot. Food cooked from frozen should be a minimum of 63 degrees centigrade throughout, and this will be higher for certain types of meat and fish.
3. Deep-chill glasses
Have you tried storing glass cups in the freezer? Give it a go – this is a great hack for when you’re short on ice cubes but still want a freshly chilled drink straight from the tap.
Storing glass in the freezer is perfectly safe, so long as there is nothing inside it, and it’s not sealed with a lid. Only use tempered glass or glass labelled safe for freezing. Remember: don’t add any hot liquids to a glass you’ve taken from the freezer – the sudden change in temperature can cause it to crack. Anything at room temperature or below will be just fine, mind.
Using your freezer for … The summer barbecue:
Naturally, the most important part of a barbecue is the grill itself. And you’d probably think we were crazy if we suggested the freezer was another essential staple in the barbecue assembly. Then again, how else are you going to store that many veggie burgers and sausages?
Go ahead and bring your freezer to the fore at your next barbecue. Dazzle your friends and family with these neat hacks:
1. Barbecue steaks from frozen
You may think you should thaw beef overnight before cooking. But taste tests have proven that steaks cooked straight from the freezer keep their flavour much better. They come out juicier, and they’re much less likely to overcook.
Rub a dash of oil onto the barbecue grate before cooking. This will give the outside of the steak a rich tenderness, and will help the seasoning stick too.
2. Freeze fruit for punch jugs
If you’re planning to serve liqueur or a fruity punch at your garden party, ice cubes will no doubt be at the top of your shopping list. But there is an alternative. Instead of wasting space (and running the risk of watering down your cocktails), use frozen fruits to keep your drink cool. Prepare fruits the night before by sealing them in freezer bags and leaving them in the freezer. Slices of oranges and lemons and halves of strawberries are the standard, but you could also try blueberries, cranberries and cherries. Why not try creating fresh mint ice cubes too, using our earlier trick, ‘preserve herbs in the freezer’?
3. Add frozen pizza to the menu
For vegetarians, young children, or for guests who fancy something different, pizza is a great alternative – and barbecuing it from frozen makes it extra tasty. Use a flat pizza pan or an unglazed ceramic plate to keep the pizza from drooping into the coals, then cook it normally until the base is a golden brown. Close the grill hood while cooking to trap in that authentic smoky flavour. Try a plain Margherita – you can add barbecued meats and marinades to the base once it’s cooked.
1. Freeze appetisers ahead of time
Chilled appetisers are great. They will save you time behind the cooker, so you can focus on entertaining your guests. They also tend to be lighter on the palate, so your main course can be the flavour hero. And you can serve them straight from the freezer, too.
Here’s one of our favourite chilled recipes:
Super-cool coleslaw – serves 4
½ head of red cabbage, shredded thickly
½ head of green cabbage, shredded thickly
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 carrots, grated
¼ pint of mayonnaise
2 large dollops sour cream
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Mix together all the ingredients in a glass bowl. Stir thoroughly so that the vegetables have an even coat of mayonnaise and sour cream
2. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for 30 minutes in the freezer, until completely chilled
3. Serve straight from the freezer with cool ciabatta and chilled meats
4. If serving from frozen, allow to defrost in the fridge
2. Deep-chill your spirits
Your kitchen freezer will typically run at -18 degrees centigrade. But pure alcohol has a much lower freezing point. For spirits that are more than 40% abv, the freezing temperature will be around -23 degrees. That means you can put spirits (40% and above) in the freezer to get them super-chilled, ready to serve ice-cold straight from the bottle.
This might not work for all spirits – and it certainly won’t work for wine and beer. You can put these in the freezer for a short while to get them nice and cool, but if you leave them in too long you run the risk of freezing them completely. If this happens, the glass may smash – and you’ll have a nasty clean-up job to take care of.
3. Offer a refreshingly cool napkin
This one's especially useful if you're going to be serving spicy food. Take a cotton napkin (make sure it's clean and dry) and place it in the freezer for a few hours before setting the table.
The chill will last about an hour once you've taken it out, which should be long enough to give your guests a cool complement to their meal. And if you want to create fancy napkin shapes, a spritz of spray starch and a couple of hours in the freezer will help them keep their form longer.
Our other top three freezer life-hacks:
Eating and drinking isn’t the only thing a freezer can revolutionise. Try these little tips to put your freezer to use around the rest of the house. They could end up saving you money down the line:
1. De-odorize raw denim
If you’ve ever owned raw denim or selvedge jeans, you’ll know that taking care of them is a labour of love. Raw denim enthusiastsrecommend that you wear jeans for six months before washing them to achieve an authentic faded look. But this could create a very smelly problem. To get rid of odours, put your jeans in the freezer.
Start by spot-cleaning dirty areas with a damp sponge. Then bundle the jeans up in a freezer bag and leave them in the freezer for about a week. The low temperature will kill bacteria that cause bad smells. But if the problem persists, it might be time to put them in the washing machine.
2. Keep candles burning for longer
When a candle burns, theheat from the bottom of the flame melts the wax at the top of the candle. But if the candle is cooler, the wax melts slower. Leave a candle in the freezer for a day before lighting and it could last much longer. Just make sure you've removed the candlestick or glass container before freezing, and only try it with wax candles.
3. Get rid of gum
If you’ve accidentally sat in chewing gum, you needn't throw away your clothes. Instead, take the garment and place it in a freezer bag with the stained area facing outwards. Leave for about a day so the gum is rock hard. Then, with a flat tool such as a (clean) paint scraper or butter knife, chip the gum away while it is still frozen – it should peel right off. If it leaves a mark, just give the item a hot wash, ideally by submerging the affected spot in very hot water.
Bonus hack: reduce the running cost of your freezer
Make sure you’re getting the lowest-cost service from your energy-efficient LG freezer with this final tip:
The more you have in your freezer, the less energy it will use, sotry filling it up as much as possible. Remember that food packaging wasters a lot of space, so transfer loose items from boxes into freezer bags. If you end up with more room than you need, fill in the remaining space with containers of water - you never know when some extra ice will come in useful. Then again, if you already have enough ice, you could always fill in the extra space with more ice cream. You don't have to eat it all at once!