We all know that we’re supposed to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables to stay healthy. The 5 a day campaign is well-established and based on World Health Organisation advice. Consuming a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables per day is recommended, to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some forms of cancer.
But recent evidence suggests that, despite all this advice, only three in ten British adults aged between 19 and 64 are hitting the 5 a day target.
Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze – Fruit and Veg
What if clever use of your freezer could actually help you to achieve your 5 a day, as well as saving money and reducing food waste? Freezers run more efficiently when they’re full, so you can fill up the odd little corners with an array of ready-prepared fruits and vegetables, to have on hand when you need an extra shot of vitamins and goodness (you can even make up pre-prepared dump and go smoothie bags for breakfasts when you’re in a rush!). Read on for some tips on novel ways to freeze fruit and vegetables!
How to Freeze Rhubarb
Rhubarb is a popular plant to grow in British gardens, meaning people often end up with a seasonal glut. It’s also cheaper in the shops at certain times of the year, so rhubarb lovers might want to stock up for when it’s more expensive or harder to obtain.
But how should you go about freezing this fruit? (Or is it a vegetable?) You can freeze rhubarb raw, blanched or cooked, but it’s worth noting that it will break down as it defrosts, so it’s better to use it in dishes which don’t require the rhubarb to stay in nice, neat sticks. For example, pies and crumbles are good options.
You can trim raw rhubarb into small pieces, or blanch for a minute or so then trim, then open freeze the pieces. (Open freezing is a method of freezing items individually so they don’t stick together. Spread them out on a shallow tray, place flat in the freezer until frozen, then bag the pieces later so they take up less space). Rhubarb can also be stewed or roasted before freezing.
How to Freeze Garlic
Garlic lasts a long time in the fridge, but it doesn’t last forever, so you might want to freeze some to use another time. The best way to do this is to peel the cloves and freeze them in a jar. It’s better to use glass rather than a freezer bag, to prevent the pungent aroma from penetrating other items in the freezer.
You don’t need to defrost frozen garlic to use it for cooking. You can just chop it up from frozen and bung it into whatever dish you are making. The quality and flavour may not be quite as good as fresh garlic, but it’s fine for cooking, and this strategy can help to reduce food waste if you have too much garlic on your hands.
How to Freeze Ginger
In my fridge, ginger is an even worse culprit for waste than garlic. I almost always buy too much when I need it for a recipe, and it has a funny way of hiding itself behind something else (usually garlic!) and slowly going mouldy and soggy.
You can freeze ginger in chunks, in airtight containers. Or you can mince or grate it and open freeze in spoonful sized portions then bag together for cooking. (Or if this seems like a bit too much effort even for the most seasoned batch cookers and preppers, you can try this amazing alternative).
How to Freeze Onions
I have a huge over-supply of onions right now, as they come every week in my veg box and I haven’t cooked much recently to use them up. So my plan is to chop them up and freeze them, ready for use in future cooking. You just peel them, chop and section into the quantities you’re likely to need, then bag and freeze.
Rather like garlic, onions are pretty pungent and the odour can affect other items in the freezer, so it’s sensible to use extra thick freezer bags, or double bag them to prevent odour leakage.
You can use frozen onions in place of fresh in many dishes like bolognese, chillis, stews and soups. It’s best to use them within 3-6 months of freezing, or they will lose some of their flavour.
How to Freeze Chillies
Growing chillies is an increasingly popular trend. Chillies have a lot of health benefits and are relatively easy to grow in small spaces. But as is often the case with home-grown produce, you can end up with more than you can use at any one time.
Chillies can be preserved by freezing, like so many other forms of produce. You can freeze them whole in airtight containers, or chop them and freeze in ice cube containers then bag from the ice cube tray. You can thaw them before use, or add straight into your dish from frozen when cooking. No more sad, lonely chillies going off in the bottom of the fridge!
How to Freeze Strawberries
Last in this list of things you didn’t know you could freeze is that delicious summer favourite, the strawberry. Now, strawberries are not cheap at the best of times, and out of season, they can be incredibly expensive. So if you are lucky enough to be able to grow some, or you want to stock up on UK produce in the summer, rather than buy imported fruit over the winter, then freezing strawberries is a great strategy.
All you have to do is spread the strawberries out on a baking tray, open freeze them then bag them up. You might want to cut off the stalks first and maybe chop them in half if you plan to use the strawberries for cooking.
Benefits of Freezing Fruit and Vegetables
Maybe there have been a few surprises for you in this list? But the truth is that with the right preparation, almost any kind of fresh produce can be frozen. Little bags of chopped and prepped produce can be the perfect thing to fill up those odd-shaped gaps in your freezer – because we know now that full freezers run more efficiently.
So the next time you see some fruit and veg on offer in the supermarket, or perhaps a friend offers you some homegrown produce, you will know exactly what to do! If you can’t use it right away, you can chop it, bag it and save it for another day. Your health, your purse and the planet will thank you for it!
Next in this series will be a list of some even more surprising things that you didn’t know you could freeze!