Being prepared to freeze just about anything, from soups to sauces to egg whites, is a huge advantage in the kitchen. After all, what good is throwing an entire lasagna in the freezer when you know you'll never thaw the whole thing out? Read on for my essential supplies to make freezing a breeze.
• Ice cube trays - My last apartment kitchen came with these seemingly useless ice cube trays that produced ice the size of sugar cubes. Although they lacked ice potential, they were perfect for freezing small quantities of pesto. And I never had to worry about needing to re-use them and ending up with pesto flavored ice. Purchasing ice cube trays to set aside for freezing food makes freezing left over tomato sauce or egg whites a cinch and allows for small portions for later use. Fill trays with food, wait a few hours until frozen solid, and then transfer to a heavy duty freezer plastic bag. Then use cube by cube as needed.
• Plastic wrap - Do you ever notice how inexpensive plastic wrap sometimes lacks that clingy quality? To keep food protected against air exposure in the freezer, using plastic wrap that works as a shrink wrap is key. If you have the space, restaurant supply stores carry big rolls of plastic wrap designed to be used easily sitting on top of a counter, without two handed tearing and sheets folding up on themselves. Glad Press'n Seal freezer wrap also works wonders for freezing, as it allows you to come close to vacuum sealing.
• Aluminum foil - I purchased a roll of recycled aluminum foil recently and I couldn't believe how thin it was. Shiny, yes. But it didn't hold up against the heavy duty variety I usually use. This is also a great product to pick up from a restaurant supply source.
• Plastic bags - Those heavy duty freezer-style plastic bags aren't just an extra effort on marketing; they're better at keeping out dry freezer air and preventing frost. Also, many come pre-printed with a spot to name and date the food - which is key when defrosting and mistaking disks of pie dough for hamburger patties like I have done.
• Plastic take out containers - Next time you order take out food don't pitch the containers. When you're short on good quality containers for freezing, these work like a charm. My favorites are the cylindrical deli containers often used for soup.
• Foil baking containers - Have you ever banished one of your favorite glass or ceramic pans to the freezer, not remembering its hiding place for months? Foil containers make for easy storage and don't compromise your usual baking container supply. My favorites are the small loaf pans, perfect for an individual pot pie or lasagna.
What are your essential tools for freezing?
Related: Love Your Freezer? Washington Post's Guide to Freezing
(Images: Emma Christensen; My Recipes)