From cake batter to Cool Ranch Doritos, here are 15 surprising foods chefs say they always freeze.
Why on earth would anyone need to freeze butter? Well, if you’re a chef and you need to stock up for the baking season, freezing butter is a good idea. And, there are a number of ways you can do it, too. First, butter can be frozen right in its wrapper and placed inside a freezer bag or wrapped in aluminum foil. If you’re going to go this route, then you can just grate the frozen butter directly into the dough. Or, you could thaw it in the fridge overnight. The second option is to first cut the butter into small pieces and place them in a freezer bag. That way you can grab only the amount you need right then.
Theo Randall, chef-patron of Theo Randall at the InterContinental, a fine-dining Italian Restaurant in Mayfair, in the center of London, told The Guardian that he likes to freeze pesto in small sealed bags or containers because doing so preserves the color and flavor.
Rusty Bowers, the owner of the whole animal butcher shop Pine Street Market and Chop Shop, likes to freeze pesto and chimichurri. “They’re great for finishing a homemade sauce or soup. Make a large batch of hearty pesto or chimichurri and pour it into ice cube trays and freeze. Pop the frozen portions into a zipper bag and freeze up to eight to 10 months,” he told Food & Wine magazine.
13. Cake Batter
We all know that you can freeze cake — that’s what many newlyweds do with their leftover wedding cake. But, did you also know that you can freeze cake batter? Yep, it’s true! “I find that non-creaming technique cake and muffin batters freeze well raw,” Tiffany MacIsaac, chef, and owner of Buttercream Bakeshop told Food & Wine magazine. “Before baking, just be sure to agitate by stirring well to re-activate the gluten. Just don’t try to freeze anything leavened with egg whites as the whites will deflate during freezing so the cake won’t rise.”
12. Tofu Steaks
A lot of people can’t tolerate the texture of tofu. As such, many experts recommend freezing it. Doing so will give tofu a more meat-like texture. That being said, Masaki Sugisaki, executive chef at the Japanese restaurant Dinings in London, likes to freeze tofu steaks. He recommends freezing and then defrosting firm tofu over a sieve to drain the water from it. Once it’s defrosted, you can slice it into thick slabs and fry it, using teriyaki sauce as a glaze. Or, you can mince it.
Rice can be frozen, but frozen rice is better suited for adding to dishes rather than eating on its own. But, don’t freeze it while it’s raw. Instead, freeze slightly undercooked rice on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Then, portion it out and store it in the freezer in airtight containers.
So, now that you know how to freeze rice, the question becomes why would you want to do this? Jacob Sessoms, executive chef and co-owner of Cultura, told Food & Wine magazine that he, “always keep bags fresh rice and fresh cornmeal or grits in the freezer. I make sure to buy a little extra at my local farmers’ market at the end of the summer — you never know when you’ll need a starch to round out a meal and the fresh rice or fresh corn grits are an entirely different palate experience as compared to the old, dry varieties at the store.”
10. Gazpacho Ingredients
Ian Rynecki, the executive chef of Pippin Hill Farms & Vineyards, told Food & Wine magazine that when he’s making gazpacho, he likes to freeze the ingredients — specifically, the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and red onion — before putting them in the blender. “Freezing vegetables causes a similar reaction to hot water blanching. The ice crystals destroy the cell walls, removing gases and breaking down the vegetable. It’s a great way to get more flavor out of your vegetables, even at the height of the season. These are then allowed to thaw, and the thawed liquid is used to soak up the bread required by the recipe,” he said.
9. Pasta Sauce
Pasta sauce, no matter what type it is, stores well in the freezer. And, you can make a big batch of it and store it in the freezer to make cooking dinner less hectic. Chef Jeff Osaka of 12@Madison in Denver, Colorado, told Insider that he doesn’t put many items in the freezer, but when he does freeze something, it’s usually pasta sauce. “Pomodoro, pesto, Bolognese, [you name it]. I usually divide into servings for four when freezing and thaw overnight in the fridge. [Because] most dry pastas only take 10-12 minutes to cook, [I] can literally have a meal on the table in 15 minutes!”
8. Braised Foods
Braised foods make great freezer items because they have a natural resistance to freezer burn. It’s not the meat itself but the juices or gravy that protects it from freezer burn. “Iron Chef America” alum and Los Angeles-based chef Jet Tila recommends using vacuum bags to save leftover braised foods for days when you need ready-to-go meals. Storing them in vacuum bags makes thawing or defrosting them a cinch. You can place the frozen bags in the microwave, in simmering water, or in the fridge a few days before.
7. Curried Dishes
You can lock in the bold flavors of curried dishes in the freezer, provided that you defrost them properly. Chris Martin, chef and founder of Digest The Passion, told Insider that the best way to preserve the curry’s flavor is to use a freezer-safe bag instead of a container because the container allows in air. To thaw, simply place the bag in a pot of cold running water. The circulation will help it thaw faster.
TIP: Make sure the bag is weighted down when thawing.
6. Chicken Stock
You can make frozen flavor bombs by filling your ice cube tray with chicken stock. According to The Spruce, flavor bombs are a way to get a jump start on prep, plus they make cooking a deeply flavorful meal a cinch on a weeknight. Then, when you’re ready to use them, you can just pop them out of the ice cube tray and add them to your pasta dishes or pan sauces.
TIP: You can freeze them in cupcake liners instead of ice cube trays if you wish.
5. Chicken Pot Pie
If you are prepping the filling for chicken pot pie ahead of time, you can freeze it and thaw it later for dinner. According to Insider, Chef Timothy Buma of Restaurant Associates, whose clients include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hearst, and The Smithsonian, recommends, “making a double batch and freezing the filling for use later. When you thaw it, you can make it an easy weeknight meal by using frozen or other pre-packaged biscuits as the topping. It’ll taste as good or better than it did the first time!”
Yes, you can freeze avocados. Just make sure you wash and halve or slice them before you do so. Beware, though: frozen avocados tend to become mushy, so if you’re going to freeze them, make sure you plan to use them in sauces, dips, smoothies, or as a base in a soup.
TIP: For best results, puree your avocados before freezing them. HGTV explains how to do it:
Place peeled, cut avocado into a food processor or blender. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon or lime juice for each avocado to prevent browning. Pureeing in a motorized appliance ensures that the acidic juice distributes evenly to all the avocado flesh.
Freeze avocado puree in ice cube trays to create cubes perfect for adding to smoothies, spreading on a sandwich, or serving as baby food. If you plan to make guacamole or other dips, freeze the puree in the portion size needed for a recipe. Pack the puree into zipper-style freezer bags or freezer containers. Leave one-half inch of headspace in containers.
Doctors recommend frozen grapes for dialysis patients because they have to limit their liquid intake. But they can be enjoyed by anyone at any time. Just pull a few of them off the bunch, wash and dry them thoroughly, spread them on a baking sheet, and place the grapes and baking sheet in the freezer. According to The Guardian, Tom Kitchin, chef-patron of Michelin-starred restaurant The Kitchin, Edinburgh, says that frozen grapes can be used as healthy sweet snacks, mini sorbets if you will.
2. Cool Ranch Doritos
As strange as it may sound, PJ Calapa, owner and chef of Spaniard, Scampi, and Paloma, recommends noshing on frozen Cool Ranch Doritos. “Fishing in South Texas as a kid, I would keep my Doritos in the ice chest. Ice cold Doritos are a game-changer. They stay crunchier, and that cold texture is just amazing,” he told Food & Wine magazine.
INTERESTING FACT: A snowstorm in Buffalo, NY, in 2014 forced stranded victims to survive on frozen Doritos. According to New York Magazine, a group of men who were stranded by massive snowdrifts was seen raiding an abandoned Doritos truck.
1. Kimchi Gyoza
Ollie Templeton, head chef and co-owner of the London restaurant Carousel, recommends freezing kimchi gyoza. He explains to The Guardian how it should be done:
“Squeeze the juice out of 200g kimchi into a small bowl and set aside. Mix the kimchi with 200g diced and sauteed potatoes in another bowl. To fill, lay one wrapper on the palm of your hand, place a teaspoon of filling in its center and wet the edge with your finger. Fold in half over the filling and pinch in the middle, then pleat the top layer at regular intervals and press on to the back layer to seal. Freeze in small batches. To eat, fry from frozen in vegetable oil over medium heat. Serve immediately, dipping into soy sauce mixed with lemon juice.”
Your turn! What unique foods do you like to freeze? Let us know in the comment section below.