6.5 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year, 4.5 million tonnes of which is edible. Not only is food waste a big problem for the planet, but it‘s also estimated that the average UK family could save £60 a month by reducing their food waste.
Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze – Dairy
Your freezer is your best friend when it comes to saving food from the bin. Savvy use of your freezer can also support your meal planning efforts and save you time and energy too. So we thought a little series of articles on unusual foods that can be frozen might be useful!
How to Store Dairy Foods in Your Freezer
People are often unsure about what can be frozen. The quick answer is that you can freeze just about anything! Freezing food is simply a way of stopping it from deteriorating. However, some things freeze better than others, and this is particularly true of dairy foods. So it makes sense to think strategically when you’re stocking up your freezer.
Freezers actually run more efficiently if they’re full, so if you have gaps between your frozen peas and your ice cream, you can fill these up with leftovers or bargains from the supermarket. Read on for some top tips on how to freeze dairy products, to make sure they’ll taste just as good defrosted as they would have been fresh from the shops.
How to Freeze Milk
It’s handy to have milk in the freezer for unexpected visitors or if you run out in bad weather and don’t want to venture to the shops. Cooking and housekeeping guru Mary Berry says in her book Mary’s Household Tips and Tricks that she finds semi-skimmed milk freezes better than full fat, due to its lower fat content.
If you freeze milk in the bottle you buy it in, make sure you pour a small amount out first to allow space for the frozen liquid to expand. You could also freeze milk in ice cube trays for the perfect amount for cups of tea or coffee. You can transfer these into freezer bags for more flexible storage once frozen.
How to Freeze Eggs
While it’s not advisable to freeze whole eggs, as the contents can expand and make them explode, it’s fine to freeze eggs that have been beaten together. Or you can separate them into whites and yolks and freeze these separately.
Eggs keep in the freezer for up to six months. It’s not necessarily dangerous to keep them for longer, but the flavour may deteriorate a little. Hard-boiled eggs don’t tend to freeze well, as the whites can become rubbery, but it’s probably still better to freeze them than to throw them away!
How to Freeze Cheese
Blocks of hard cheese can be a little crumbly on defrosting, but grated hard cheeses such as parmesan or cheddar freeze very well. It’s handy to have a bag in the freezer for sprinkling over dishes before cooking – this can be added frozen.
You can also portion cheese into slices and freeze, ready for sandwiches. Soft cheese can lose its texture if frozen, but cream cheese to be used for cooking will be fine after freezing.
How to Freeze Butter
Butter freezes really well, either in large blocks or in smaller portions pre-measured for baking. It can be kept in the freezer for up to six months, so this is a perfect item to stock up on when it’s on offer. Small blocks of butter fit perfectly into those little gaps between other items in the freezer too.
How to Freeze Cream
The jury is out a little on this one. Mary Berry advises against it, saying that the freezing process causes the cream to separate and become watery. Nigella Lawson suggests that cream is better frozen in its whipped form, as it holds its texture better.
Using previously frozen cream in cooking is a good option, as the heat helps the fat molecules to break down and this reduces the graininess that can sometimes happen when cream is frozen.
How to Freeze Yoghurt
You can buy frozen yoghurt as a stand-alone product, but not many people realise that normal fresh yoghurt can be frozen to make your own Fro-Yo! You can just pop it in the freezer when it gets near its use-by date and bring it out as a healthy alternative to ice cream.
You can also freeze yoghurt into lolly moulds to make quick treats for hot days. Frozen yoghurt can also be added to fruit and some extra milk or juice to make smoothies.
How to Freeze Ice Cream
The easiest way to freeze ice cream, of course, is to buy it from the supermarket then put it in the freezer! But if you’re making your own, there are a couple of important things to bear in mind to ensure that the fruits of your labour are stored properly.
Make sure your home-made ice cream is stored in a completely air-tight container. It’s best to place it at the back of the freezer, where the temperature is lowest. Definitely do not store it in the door section, if your freezer has this option, as this is the area of the freezer where the temperature will fluctuate most. This could lead to grainy ice cream, which would be a shame indeed!
Top Tips For Freezing Dairy Products
Now you know all our top tips for freezing dairy products! So next time you see parmesan cheese on offer, you can confidently stock up in the knowledge that you can store it properly to use in the future. And you’ll know exactly what to do when you have left-over cream that you can’t use up before it goes out-ot-date.
Remember to label anything that you store in the freezer. Don’t forget to add dates, so you can use things up in chronological order. It’s also good to be specific so that you avoid cheese roulette in the future!
The next article in this series will be about ingenious ways to freeze fruit and vegetables – there’s much more to this than packets of frozen peas, and we’ll dive into the detail soon.