/ Food & Drink

Freezing your food – separating the fact from fiction

Brits throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink a year – that’s £12bn down the drain. Much of this is completely unnecessary, especially if we made more use of our freezers. But what can and can’t you freeze?

Food waste is a problem: fact. According to research by Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the average household shells out £480 per year on groceries that end up in the bin, a figure that rises to £680 for a family with children.

When you consider that you’re spending hard-earned cash to populate landfill, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

And it’s not just the impact on our wallets that gives cause for concern. Every time we throw away a pint of milk, all of the natural resources used to get it from the farm to your fridge (feeding and watering cows, powering the dairy, transporting the milk to the supermarket) are all expended for nothing.

Saving money on food shopping

WRAP estimates that preventing food waste would have the same environmental benefits of removing one in five cars from our roads.

How, then, can we save ourselves money and do our bit for the environment? It all comes down to good planning, preparation and storage. Plan meals in advance and only buy – and cook – what you need:

  • Make a shopping list and stick to it.
  • Store fruit (except pineapple and bananas) in the fridge – it’ll last longer.
  • Don’t buy bagged lettuce if salad isn’t on the menu for the next few days.
  • Make sure your fridge is running at 5°C or colder.

And make more use of your freezer – storing food until you’re ready to eat it is, after all, what it’s there for. You can freeze fresh groceries right up until the use-by date, cook large meals and freeze individual portions, even freeze fruit and veg. Small measures for big gains: it’s a win-win situation, surely?

Freezing food myths

So, what foods can and can’t you store in your freezer? According to the United States Department of Agriculture, you can freeze pretty much anything except eggs and canned foods. And even these foods can be frozen if you remove the shell and can first.

But how long can you safely freeze food for? And what about all those things you ‘just know’ you can’t freeze? Surely you’re not supposed to freeze rice? And what about raspberries and strawberries that turn to mush? Or, perhaps you follow the school of thought that any unwelcome microbes or bacteria are killed once food reaches 0°C, so anything goes?

We’re looking into freezing habits here at Which? to separate the fact from the fiction so we can reveal how you can make the most out of your freezer. So, how much do you use your freezer? And what foods do you think you can and can’t freeze, and why?

Comments
Guest

I just happened to read this tip today – haven’t tried it myself.

Store root ginger in the freezer. Apart from stopping it going off, it is easier to grate in its frozen state.

Guest
Dublin_Don says:
27 April 2012

Peel the ginger first…

Guest

Ah, the voice of experience. Thank you.

Guest
Susan says:
3 May 2012

We never peel our ginger before freezing it. When you grate it in its frozen state the skin just disappears and you don’t notice it.

Guest
Margaret says:
7 May 2012

Ginger is easy to peel with a sharp knife when frozen. I have been doing it for years

Guest
Grandmamoy says:
27 April 2012

I keep hens and recently had a glut of eggs so….broke one into a small dish, covered it in cling film and put it in the freezer…4 weeks later – got it out, thawed and whisked it with a fresh egg and made a cake !! Fine…
Also freeze Strawberries and raspberries every summer…freeze on trays overnight then pack in boxes..with stawberries you can add sugar…Strawberries and frozen gooseberries with a sponge mix poured over and baked makes a wonderful winter pudding

Guest

Don’t trust the oxidation process even if minimised
in cold fridge compartment at 0-5 degrees…as to coconut milk
whether extracted from fresh coconut or from can, any unused
wd immediately store in freezer- divided into individual portions
if necessary- with no diminution in flavour or quality
on subsequent use.

Ex 50 gm spice glass jars are ideal for this purpose.

Guest
Tam says:
29 April 2012

take care putting glass containers in freezer – liquids expand when frozen and can break glass. Plastic or card is flexible.

Guest

A useful warning, Tam. Traditional glass bowls with sloping sides are fine in the freezer because the frozen material just moves upwards. It is important to avoid glass containers with straight sides.

Even full plastic containers can split.