Cool tips for using your freezer

Whether it’s bread, eggs, milk or meat, here are ways a few tricks for using your freezer to make sure your food lasts for longer, and cut down on waste.

Bread

Place store-bought sliced bread directly in the freezer. If you have made or bought a fresh loaf, allow it to cool to room temperature, then slice and place in a tightly-sealed freezer bag before putting in the freezer. Try to use frozen bread within six months to prevent freezer burn.

Eggs

Always break eggs out of their shells before freezing, as they expand when frozen and will explode. Freeze egg whites in individual ice trays for easier use and measuring when thawed. Egg yolks can become gelatinous when frozen, so beat them with ⅛ tsp salt or 1 ½ tsp sugar per ¼ cup of yolk – make sure you label the container with either sweet or savoury. To freeze whole eggs, beat until blended and seal tightly in freezer containers with the date and number of eggs. Frozen eggs will last for up to a year.

Milk

Milk must be frozen before its ‘use by’ date. It’s also best to remove some of the liquid so there is room for the frozen milk to expand. The milk and fat will separate when frozen, so you will need to give it a good shake once it's thawed. Freeze milk for up to three months and use within a few days of thawing.

Meat

Freeze fresh meat and chicken in its supermarket wrapping if you plan to use it within a couple of months. If you are planning to keep frozen for longer, store it in vacuum-packed wrapping to prevent freezer burn. If you are storing multiple cuts of meat in one package, place pieces of baking paper between each one to make it easier to separate them. Properly frozen meat is generally safe to eat indefinitely, but to retain freshness eat mince within 3-4 months, chicken within 9 months and cuts of red meat within 8-12 months.

Butter

Butter can be stored for up to four months in the freezer. Blocks can be kept in their original wrapping, but it is a good idea to also place them in an airtight container to protect from the smells of nearby frozen foods. Grating frozen butter into dough mixtures for scones, bread and pastry will result in much lighter and fluffier baking.

Nuts

Because of their high oil content, nuts can go rancid within 2-4 weeks when stored on the shelf, so keep them in the freezer to extend their lifespan. Shelled or unshelled is fine, but they should always be stored in an airtight container. Most nuts can last for up to a year in the freezer, except for pine nuts, which should be eaten within six months.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes can be easily frozen to preserve for sauces, soups and stews in the winter. They can be put straight in the freezer whole and unpeeled, although you can peel them if you want to, as well as placed in a zip lock bag with as little air as possible. Use within 8 months for best quality.

Ginger

Prevent fresh ginger from shrivelling or rotting by freezing in an airtight container. To make it easier to use, you could cut it into 1cm chunks before freezing – but peeling and grating is much easier once frozen! Frozen ginger will taste best when used within six months.

With a little bit of pre-planning and preparation, you can use your freezer to keep food for longer, and save on time and money.