Is there anything worse than throwing out food that has been buried in the back of the fridge (for who knows how long) — or worse — pushed to the back of the shelf in the pantry and forgotten? It’s like throwing money down the drain. Fortunately, there are few simple tricks for what to store in the freezer that will seriously extend the shelf life of leftovers, pantry staples and freshly purchased foods.
Here are 10 ingredients that really keep well in the deep freeze. If you have any of these ingredients on hand (and don’t plan to use them right away), it’s time to head straight for the icebox.
Nuts are much more affordable when you buy them in bulk, but they tend to go rancid quickly. Instead of keeping them in your cupboard, store them in the freezer in an airtight container or re-sealable bag to increase shelf life. And when you’re craving a snack – like these sweet and spicy nuts – they’re fresh and ready to use.
2. Seasonal berries
Berries can spoil quickly, so preserve them while they’re in season and full of flavour. Freeze in a single layer on a lined baking sheet, then transfer to a re-sealable bag for storing in the freezer. Use them in off-season baking or to amp up your morning smoothie.
Like nuts, whole wheat or grain flours can go rancid quickly; increase their shelf life by storing in a re-sealable bag or airtight container in the freezer. Looking to use up your whole wheat or grain flours? Try Chatelaine’s simple Irish brown bread.
4. Lemon juice
Freeze lemon juice in an ice cube tray for easy use later. Add it to these chardonnay and lemon cocktails for an extra-citrusy chill.
When butter is on sale, stock up and keep it in the freezer. It can be stored for up to a year – so don’t be afraid to buy in bulk if you have the space. I love to blend herbs and spices into butter I’m not freezing to pair with savoury dishes.
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6. Tomato paste
Freeze tomato paste in tablespoon portions in an ice cube tray and use in recipes like one-pan pasta.
7. Canned chipotles in adobo
Purée leftover canned chipotles in adobo in a food processor, then transfer tablespoon portions to an ice cube tray and freeze. (They will also keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, if you’ll be using them in that time.) Try them in Chatelaine’s greek-yogurt-chipotle sauce.
8. Bread crumbs
Don’t throw away your ends of bread that might be a bit dried out! Whirl them in a food processor until finely crumbed for fresh breadcrumbs. You can freeze them in an airtight container or re-sealable bag for quick use. Try them in our spring asparagus gratin.
Store ginger in the freezer to extend its shelf life. The beautiful part about this is that you can use it straight from the freezer, without thaw-time. Need a recipe? Try it in our stir-fried ginger beef with broccoli.
10. Ripe Bananas
Overripe bananas are a baker’s delight. Lending their perfect, extra banana-y flavour to moist banana bread, muffins and homemade sundaes — if you can’t eat them today, throw them in the freezer for some weekend baking.
Originally published April 2015. Updated September 2017.