This week Janine catches up with chef, author and presenter Shivi Ramoutar. Shivi has written a brilliant book, The Ice Kitchen, which aims to show you how to use your freezer to revolutionise your cooking and eating habits. They talk about freezing as a way to make the most of seasonality and avoid waste, why everyone needs a freezer filing system and she also shares some of the great new recipes from her book.
Shivi’s top freezer tips
Ice cube trays
I like to make base sauces, such as tomato sauce, then freeze in ice cube trays so that I can turn out exactly the portion needed for a recipe. This is great if you’re just heating pasta sauce for one or you need a little sauce for making pizza. It also means you don’t need to be hacking bits off a larger block.
Reusable freezer bags
To avoid ice crystals forming in whatever you’re freezing, you need to expel as much air as possible from the container. Ideal for this are reusable freezer bags, which are a lot better than single-use plastic. There are lots on the market now and you can even put some in the dishwasher for added convenience.
Have a filing system
The other advantage of reusable bags is that you’re able to freeze stews, soups and curries flat, then stack them upright in rows like a food filing system. As well as saving space, it’ll be much easier to find what you need.
This is a simple but important step to keep from defrosting shortbread instead of pizza dough! If using Tupperware or similar, you can get fancy freezer tape that peels off easily but something like cheap masking tape works very well, too.
In the UK we throw out food worth £494 million every week, which is shocking. It’s been proven that you can reduce your own waste by almost 50% just by using your freezer properly. So, freezing is not only a convenience, it’s about saving the planet, as well as saving money. It’s not just about the individual – it’s about the bigger picture.
We always talk about eating with the seasons and making the most of fresh ingredients. Things like veggie boxes are great but then people can often be overwhelmed by the amount of produce they receive.
So, get the stuff at its best and cheapest when there’s a glut, then cook with it and freeze what’s left. It’ll be there like treasure waiting for you. As an example, my frozen yogurt bark takes minutes to make and uses up soft fruits such as raspberries or blueberries.
Freezing and nutrition
People often think frozen food is less nutritious but the freezer just presses pause on the freshness. A lot of the time we buy produce and we put it at the bottom of the fridge, then cook with it a week later. Actually, over that week, a lot of the goodness has leached out. It’s better to organise yourself and freeze produce as soon as you buy it, either as is or in a recipe (that’s if you can’t use it immediately). That way you lock in most of the nutrients and, as soon as it’s defrosted, the nutrients are back at the same level as when you froze it.