Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Woolies frozen ginger - now there's a good idea

Woolworths have recently launched a lekker new product: a pack containing little frozen cubes of puréed fresh ginger, each one a little smaller than a dice (and I mean the sort of dice you play games with). When you're making a stir-fry or curry, you just pop out a few cubes, leave them to defrost (or chuck them in the microwave) and Bob's your uncle.

Purists may scoff at this (but, then again, purists scoff at everything, don't they? And, besides, most purists are restaurant reviewers who have no children to feed, and all day to stooge around the shops) but I love the convenience of not having to lacerate my knuckles trying to grate the wizened-and-sprouting piece of fresh ginger in the vegetable rack, and then plucking the hairy bits from my teeth.

It's strange how freezing things has gone out of fashion. In the early heydeys of the freezer, home cooks were encouraged to freeze everything bar the cat. In fact, the adjective 'frozen' is almost a dirty word when applied to food nowadays.

Look, I am the first to agree that most things lose a bit of flavour and texture when frozen, but - provided that you don't leave them in the freezer for too long - it's really only a little loss, and it's cancelled out by the convenience factor. (Take peas, for example. A pea frozen in its pinnacle of sweetness is so superior to a podded pea that's been sitting and getting starchy under a film of clingwrap).

Here are some things that I've found freeze extremely well (wrapped tightly in plastic)

freshly grated or puréed ginger
whole, peeled garlic cloves (but they must be very young and snappy when you freeze them)
pomegranate seeds
curry leaves, lime leaves and bay leaves
fresh lemon juice (freeze it, in ice-cube trays, within fifteen minutes of squeezing it)
home-made pesto
berries (except for strawberries)
lemon grass
blanched chopped spinach
meringues
butter
herb and/or garlic butter
garlic bread
bacon bits
pork sausages
fresh vanilla beans

Here are a few things, that, in my experience, don't freeze well:

home-made chicken stock (it just never tastes the same as fresh stock)
soups (ditto)
chicken breasts
fish
bananas
fresh parsley, basil and coriander
fresh green chillies
yoghurt
cream
coffee beans
spices (except whole nutmeg)
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5 comments:

Lindsay said...

Huh, how funny... I keep cubes of frozen, homemade chicken stock in the freezer for recipes, as well as bigger containers for making soups, and find that it's great. I just whip it up any time I've roasted a chicken, then have it on hand when needed. Similarly, I always have frozen homemade soup in the freezer to take in my lunch, and find that that's great as well. We usually have chicken breasts and fish (salmon) in the freezer, and that has always been fine... I keep frozen bananas in the freezer to throw into smoothies - sometimes they brown, though not usually, and even if they do they're still great in smoothies. I also freeze chilies and hot peppers of all types to have on hand in the winter (though you could dry them instead) and keep parsley and basil, mint, tarragon and some other herbs in the freezer as well.
Also, for my frozen garlic I like to mince it first, then freeze it in a thin sheet between two layers of plastic wrap. I just break off chunks as needed!


fresh parsley, basil and coriander
fresh green chillies
yoghurt
cream
coffee beans
spices (except whole nutmeg)

Lindsay said...

Oops, left a pasted bit of your post in my comment. :)

Juno said...

Hi Lesley

Thanks for the comment. It just seems to me that frozen chicken stock doesn't taste the same once it's defrosted... but now that I have read your comment I'm going to try again, and also with chillies. I like the idea of mincing garlic and freezing it between sheets - will try that too

Juno said...

After much experimenting, I still think chicken stock loses lots of its flavour when it freezes.

Susan said...

I freeze bananas every week and use mostly for smoothies. They only go brown if your freezer isn't cold enough. I always keep some cream in the freezer. When thawed the texture is a bit lumpy but once cooked or blended it tastes and looks fine.