Just after Christmas I realised we were running out of garlic, which is a situation that, in anybody’s book, would be an intolerable deprivation. The next time I went to Costco I bought 3 bags of it. Now, this would be Frugal Friday foolhardiness in the extreme if I was planning on leaving it in the cupboard. It’d go off before I’d even opened the second bag. But a couple of years ago I went to a friend’s place while she was cooking and she casually opened her freezer door, took out some already peeled garlic cloves and threw them into her thermomix and chopped them up, then continued on with her cooking. The whole thing took 2 seconds. How quick and easy was that?!?
It changed my life. Really.
In my defence: sometimes little things can change your life. It doesn’t always have to be earth-shattering events!
Don’t cook with a thermomix? Doesn’t matter. You’d just get the ingredients out from the freezer a few minutes before you needed them, let them thaw slightly on the chopping board and then chop them up yourself. It’s still a huge time and convenience saver. I hate throwing food out and this is an easy way to make sure that expensive ingredients like garlic and ginger aren’t wasted. You don’t think they’re that expensive? Check the price per kilo the next time you shop. Yikes!
To be fair, the preparation isn’t all that exciting. I set aside an hour or so, start a podcast running on the iPad and then set to work. The time passes quickly, I think because it’s one of those mindless repetitive tasks that let your mind free to wander while your hands are busy. I’ve seen that you can buy cryovac-packed peeled garlic from China, but I haven’t heard good things about the quality. I’d rather stick to the fresh stuff I can choose myself. (It was even better when I grew my own, but those days have gone… for now.)
Once I have a goodly amount peeled, I grab a container and pop them in the fridge. Since doing this I’ve never had to throw out any sad garlic. It’s a terrific way to still use fresh garlic in my cooking without the waste, while an added bonus is that I don’t have the garlic smell on my hands every time I need to cook with it. I get all of that over in one fell swoop.
I do the same with fresh ginger. I bring it home, chop it into coins and then freeze. On the shelf next to the garlic I have whole red chillies that a friend from work supplies me with. They last for months.
Doing this saves on food waste, but primarily it saves time. I know I have these staples on hand, so throwing together a quick curry or bolognaise is a no-brainer on those nights when you really don’t feel like cooking. It’s worth the short-term boredom of peeling for the long-term gain of the convenience.
Anyone have any other ideas for quick, easy and seasonal ingredients to use the freezer for? I’m sure there’d be more great ideas out there…?