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.