According to the FAO, we waste up to a third of the food produced for human consumption. Some is lost during production and transport, some once it reaches our homes. As David Attenborough writes in his new book, learning how to reduce food waste is key to enabling our planet to support the growing global population.
We love these tips from the BBC about how you can utilise your freezer to maximise utility from your food and minimise waste. Your super-hero freezer also saves you time by enabling you to plan ahead and cook in bulk.
1. Does food keep in the freezer forever?
2. How to make frozen food last longer
"Wrapping food well and eliminating exposure to air will help keep its flavour and texture. If you’re storing food in a resealable bag, seal the bag almost completely and then use a straw to suck out any air (don’t do this with raw meat, though!)."
"If you would rather use a plastic box, select one that can be filled as completely as possible."
"Try portioning your leftovers into smaller sizes. They’ll be easier to reheat or defrost. If the food requires defrosting before cooking, do this in the fridge."
3. How to freeze vegetables
"Blanching vegetables is often recommended before freezing. Blanching simply means partially cooking food in boiling water before draining and cooling it in iced water. This helps to retain the colour and texture of vegetables and kills any lingering microbes."
"Cooking leafy greens before freezing reduces the space they take up. Freeze them in silicone muffin cups or in ice-cube portions."
"Keep a bag in the freezer for parsley stalks, celery ends, the tough outsides of fennel bulbs, leek ends, even mushroom stalks. It can all go into making an excellent stock when you have time."
4. How to freeze fruit
"Spread berries, peach slices, cherries, melon slices and the like out on a baking tray and fast-freeze before tipping into a bag and sealing. Some fruits, such as nectarines, peaches and apricots, benefit from a toss in sugar and lemon juice to retain their colour."
"Whole lemons, limes and oranges can be frozen, allowing you to zest them before they fully defrost. Or you can freeze the grated zest in a container and the juice in ice-cube trays. Frozen Seville oranges still make great marmalade if you haven’t got time to make it during their short season."
Tip from my grandmother: freeze lemon in slices so you always have some for garnishing drinks.
"Bananas go brown and mushy when frozen, but they have some advantages. They make amazing instant banana ice cream, smoothies and banana bread. Just remember to slice them into bags before freezing, to make them easier to use."
"Apples and pears should ideally be cooked before being frozen. Stew or roast them with a sprinkling of lemon juice and sugar, leave to cool completely, then pack into containers and freeze."
5. How to freeze herbs
"If you end up with more herbs than you can use, the best way to retain their flavour and texture is to chop them up and mix them with a little neutral-tasting oil before freezing. The oil helps reduce freezer damage to the delicate leaves and prevents air from getting in and reducing their flavour. If you spread this oily paste thinly in a resealable bag, you can chop off as much as you need from the frozen pack. Ice-cube trays also work."
"Pesto is a great way to keep herbs, and can be made with many different flavour combinations."
6. Foods not to freeze
"Soft cheeses such as camembert, brie and cream cheese don’t freeze well. Parmesan can be frozen, but its flavour may be affected and, as it can be kept in the fridge for a long time, freezing probably isn’t necessary."
"Egg yolks can be frozen for use in baking or as an egg wash, but won’t work for all recipes. Mayonnaise will split if frozen and hard-boiled egg whites will go rubbery. Whole, raw eggs should not be frozen."
"Milk can be frozen with some (generally) acceptable changes to its structure – the fat is separated from the liquid suspension and can have a grainy texture that’s usually fixed with a quick shake. While frozen custard (ice cream) and yoghurt are a real treat, if you thaw them they also develop this texture. If you want to freeze double cream, give it a light whipping first."
"Raw vegetables with a high water content, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, courgettes and lettuces, will never be appealing when defrosted. The same is true of many fruits, including citrus fruits, watermelons and grapes, but these often taste refreshing when eaten frozen."
We hope you enjoy these great ideas as much as we did. Easy to get into the habit of doing, time-saving, great for your wallet and the planet. What's not to love?