Post Christmas ingredient use up

UK homes like using their freezers with an estimated £860M worth of food being stored in them, but one third of us find unidentified frozen objects – those foods where we are no longer sure what they are.    We could all be more effective in using our freezers. Research has shown that around 850,000 tonnes of food, worth £3.4bn, is thrown away because it was not used in time – but it could have been frozen.    Jam making has become very popular with sales of jam pans and other kit soaring in recent years  This time of year is when there is often a glut of produce in the shops, from our gardens, pots on the window sill or even from friends and neighbours with fruit trees or veg plots.  Love Food Hate Waste has ideas, tips and recipes to help you join the trend to preserve that food in tip top condition.   Keeping Your Cool It’s easy to take the fridge for granted and we often don’t give a second thought to the way that we store food in it.  However, many of us have our fridges too warm,  and by simply tweaking the temperature so that it is below 5°C many of our favourite foods  such as fish, chicken or salad will typically last for another 3 days.     Foods can be preserved fresher for longer by keeping them in their original packaging, in the fridge.  Much modern packaging has been specially designed to preserve fresh food and keep it at its best. Apples, oranges, carrots and peppers will all be better off and last much longer in your fridge.     Ice, Ice Baby This time of year is when our freezers can become very full so here are some top tips to preserve all that produce in the best way possible.
  • The faster food freezes, the better the quality it will be so larger amounts of food should be divided into smaller portions, packets or slices. This will also help with defrosting and also allows you to defrost precisely the number of helpings that that you want. 
  • Make sure that the cold air can circulate around the containers of food that needs to be frozen and leave gaps between the packages when you pop them into the freezer. Place individual items such as par boiled potatoes or soft fruits on a baking tray so that they will freeze quickly, before packing them into containers.
  • Avoid overloading your freezer with lots of items to freeze at the same time or it will take longer for your freezer to remove all the heat and this will slow down the freezing process.
  • Air trapped in packets can affect colour, taste and texture so wrap food well and expel any air before freezing.  Tightly wrapping food well also prevents freezer burn (seen as dry, grey patches on frozen food). 
  • Blanching veg before freezing by boiling or steaming it for 2 minutes and then plunging into very cold water to stop the cooking process, helps preserve the flavour, colour and texture.
  • Fresh herbs freeze well – chopped and added to ice cube trays they can be frozen in a small amount of water, or melted butter. They are a great time saver when you are in a rush. 
To enjoy frozen food at its best, try to use it within three months.     To help keep freezer stock rotating, it’s a good idea to label your frozen produce with the date when you froze it and keep a handy list of the contents of the freezer on the freezer door so that you don’t have to rummage around among the cold packages to find out what you have in stock.   Jam Tomorrow Making jams, jellies, chutneys and relish is of course the traditional way of using a glut of foods.     Jam and chutney making is also the perfect opportunity to root around in our freezers and cupboards for all sorts of ingredients that can be added in.  A portion of frozen runner beans left over from last summer that now look a bit too sad to serve as veg or some frozen chillies are ideal for chutney.  Our store cupboards usually have dried fruits left over (probably from last Christmas) as well as opened packets of lumpy sugar, herbs and spices – all perfect to add into the preserving pan. Even toasting nuts and stirring them into chutney at the last stage of cooking will add a lovely crunch.   Even if your jams and chutneys don’t quite turn out as you expect don’t worry. Chutney that hasn’t quite set right is perfect to use as an alternative homemade cooking sauce – just add to mince for a simple, flavourful stew.  Jams that are not quite set are perfect for using on or in puddings, over ice cream or yoghurt.    Those of you who would like to try something different may want to explore drying your own fruit either in your oven or by using a dehydrator. The dried fruit is then perfect for baking or adding to your own breakfast cereal. Salting produce, bottling fruit and veg, making ketchups, or preserving fruit in alcohol are all ways to help make the best us of the food we buy.  Therefore if you have a tip, recipe or idea for preserving the food we buy do tell us on our Twitter, Facebook or ‘contact us’ page on the website and we’ll happily feature it on the website.   The Preservation Game   Preserving foods means we get to enjoy them for longer. This can be by storing foods correctly in the fridge or freezer so that its quality, taste and flavour are preserved or by creating treats such as homemade jams and chutneys. During this theme, Love Food Hate Waste will highlight ideas for preserving food in a number of ways.     UK homes like using their freezers with an estimated £860M worth of food being stored in them , but one third of us find UFOs (unidentified frozen objects)  – those foods where we are no longer sure what they are.    Research has also shown that around 850,000 tonnes of food, worth £3.4bn, is thrown away because it was not used in time – but it could have been frozen.  Therefore we could all make better use of our freezers to make the most of the food we buy. We will be providing top tips on ensuring that they foods we freeze maintain their quality, especially those foods that are in abundance at this time of year.     Making sure that our fridges are kept below 5°C can extend the life of many foods by an extra three days.   We will be reminding people of the benefits of keeping their fridges at the correct temperature and encouraging shoppers to keep foods in its original packaging to ensures that it stays fresher for longer.    Making our own preserves has become very popular with one retailer reporting soaring sales of jam making kit.  We will be providing ideas for making preserves as a way of using fresh produce, but also a way to incorporate all sorts of store cupboard ingredients that might need using up.