Keep These 8 Ingredients in Your Freezer for Fast Flavor
Whether you're throwing together a quick weeknight dinner or livening up the pre-made foods you grabbed on your way home from work, peeling, chopping and mincing are the last things you want to bother with. Luckily, there are plenty of ingredients you can prep and freeze ahead of time for better flavor on the fly.
Peel a head or two of garlic and run the cloves through a food processor until minced. Scoop the garlic in tablespoon or teaspoon portions onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with another sheet of parchment paper and freeze until solid. Then place the frozen clusters of garlic in freezer bags.
Mincing ginger is cumbersome, so do it ahead of time for expedited cooking. Peel and grate the ginger, then use the same freezing method as you would for garlic.
3. Citrus Juice
If you're making salad dressing or brightening up a chicken dish, it's handy having lemons and limes juiced and ready to go. Freeze the juice in an ice cube tray in teaspoon or tablespoon portions.
Depending on the size of cubes you want to have on hand, you can freeze wine in an ice cube tray or a muffin tin. A standard ice cube tray will hold about 2 tablespoons of liquid in each cube and a muffin tin will hold about ½ cup in each, but always measure before pouring so you know the exact volume of the cubes. After the wine freezes, place the cubes in a large bag and label it with the type of wine and volume of the cubes for easy use.
Freeze stock in wide-mouth glass jars to have on hand for soups, gravy, cooking grains, making sauces or braising meats. Or freeze smaller amounts in ice cube trays as we recommended above for the wine.
Freezing herbs is not only a great way to have them ready to go when you're in a hurry, but it also reduces food waste and prevents your herbs from going bad in the back of your refrigerator. Finely chop your herbs and pack them into the slots of an ice cube tray. Pour a thin layer of oil over each cube and freeze.
Related: 4 Easy Ways to Preserve Fresh Herbs
7. Caramelized Onions
Caramelize a batch of onions and freeze in an ice cube tray, muffin tin, or in a thin layer in a freezer bag depending on what best suits your cooking needs. If you're freezing caramelized onions in a freezer bag, keep the layer no thicker than ½ inch and break off portions as needed.
Related: How to Caramelize Onions
8. Bacon Grease
Next time you cook bacon, don't throw out the grease! A spoonful of bacon grease can be used in fried rice, as a smokey addition to your popcorn, or for sauteing greens. Let the grease cool completely before placing it in ice cube trays or a glass jar to freeze and store. The grease will remain scoopable when frozen.