How to make the most of your freezer at Christmas

How to make the most of your freezer at Christmas

by Great British Chefs 16 December 2016

It’s cold enough outside as it is, but that doesn’t mean you should be neglecting your freezer during Christmas. Eliminate waste and keep the good times rolling by preserving your festive larder for the months ahead.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

An astonishing amount of food gets wasted every day in the UK, but it’s at big, feasting occasions like Christmas that things can really get out of hand. Whether it’s because we’ve overestimated how many roast potatoes are needed for dinner or the fact that a six-kilogram turkey can feed a family for a week, there are always good intentions to use up leftovers but they all too often end up in the bin. However, there’s one appliance in the kitchen that can essentially stop time and preserve food for months on end that many of us don’t use as much as we should – the freezer. And that's something we, in partnership with Love Food Hate Waste, want to change.

With just a little forward planning almost all ingredients, leftovers and drinks can be squirreled away and reused as and when you like throughout January, February and beyond. Chopping up and freezing leftover roast meats for curries, stews and casseroles is a given, but there are all sorts of other things you can do to help put a dent in the seven million tonnes of perfectly good food that gets thrown away every year. Here are just a few ideas to keep in mind.

Save that cheeseboard

Cheese freezes surprisingly well; its high fat and low moisture content means it retains its texture perfectly and there’s no loss of flavour once thawed. Leftover cheddar can be grated and frozen for use in cooking, while larger wedges of varieties like Stilton can be frozen whole and brought out again to defrost the day before your next dinner party. The same goes for bread – if you’ve splashed out on (or baked) an artisan sourdough loaf don’t leave it to go stale. Instead, slice it up and place it in the freezer and you’ve got the materials needed for a seriously delicious cheese on toast.

Ice cube trays are your friend

Once the festive parties are over and done with and the time for ice cubes in cocktails has passed, don’t push your trays to the back of the drawer and abandon them until your next soirée. Wine, milk, stock and any other liquids can be frozen before they go off into handy cubed portions, perfect for adding to recipes straight from the freezer. The same can be done with fresh herbs; stuff the tray with them before they turn brown, fill it up with water and freeze. They’ll defrost into hot sauces and soups, releasing their fresh aroma and taste – perfect if you just need a tablespoon or two and don’t want to buy a whole packet.

Freeze your fruit

It’s a no-brainer that leftover fruit can be thrown in a bag, frozen and then blitzed into delicious, fresh tasting smoothies, but there’s plenty more you can do. Small whole fruits like berries or grapes can be used as ice cubes that won’t dilute your drink and can be eaten afterwards, while frozen slices of lemon and lime mean you’ll always have a fresh garnish to hand.

Ice cube tray

Eat your vegetables

When it comes to vegetables, don’t throw away all those leftover roast potatoes, carrots and sprouts – while freezing them might mean they’ll lose their crisp exterior, once defrosted they can be combined with mash to create festive bubble and squeak-style cakes or chopped up and thrown into stews for added flavour. You can also use lots of leftover vegetables to make your own stock, which can then be frozen for when you need it. Even raw, uncooked potatoes can be saved before they turn green – just parboil them for five minutes before freezing, then cook them from frozen whenever you need them.

With just a little forethought, all the tastiest and best bits of Christmas can be revisited later on in the New Year when you’ve regained your appetite for roast dinners, sweet treats and festive cheer. Once you’ve seen how little you throw away (not to mention the money you’ve saved) it’ll soon become something you’ll practise year-round. Just remember to ask yourself every time you’re about to throw something out, ‘can I freeze this’? Nine times out of ten, the answer will be yes.