Scored a bargain on avocado? Or maybe you’re sick of discovering a forgotten half-bag of baby spinach or a sad nub of ginger in the back of the fridge, clearly past their usable best and bound for the bin? Good news – you can put all of these in the freezer. Here’s how, along with a few other foods you might not think of freezing.
Wash and trim firm, fresh mushrooms (firmer varieties freeze better than delicate varieties) – chop any large ones in halves or quarters. Cook in boiling water for 1-3 minutes (the time may depend on the variety of ‘shrooms) and drain well. Spread out on a tray and freeze, then as soon as they are frozen (it may only take 40-60 minutes), place into freezer bags, press the air out, seal and freeze.
Yep, you really can freeze avocados. Good news for anyone scarred by Australia’s summer avocado shortage this year! Stash avocado in the freezer and when the urge for chocolate mousse (yep, the secret ingredient in this dairy-free dessert is avocado!), guacamole or a supergreens smoothie strikes, you won’t need to trek to the supermarket.
Claire Tindale-Penning of Australian Avocados recommends using lemon juice to help keep your avo in tip-top condition. “If you find yourself with some leftover avocado - or you are preparing yourself for future smoothie needs - cut the ripe avocado in half, remove the seed and peel. You can dice the avocado or leave as half or quarter, depending on how you like to portion," she explains. “Sprinkle over some lemon or lime juice and place in either a zip-lock freezer bag, removing most of the air, or in a freezer-safe container. Frozen avocado can be used straight from the freezer for making smoothies.”
Alternatively you can mash the flesh and add lemon juice (about two teaspoons per avocado) before freezing in sealed bags or containers.
You know that feeling when a recipe calls for fresh ginger and you have everything else you need to make it? Keep ginger in the freezer so you've always go some at hand. It will grate more easily when frozen, too.
Milk and yoghurt
Full-cream milk can separate a little after freezing, although it can depend on the type of milk – we’ve successfully frozen and defrosted whole bottles of both full-cream and reduced cream milk, and milk decanted into smaller bottles. Yoghurt can also be popped in the freezer; although the texture may be different when thawed, it will still be fine for adding to a smoothie, curry or soup. Freeze yoghurt in ice-cube trays, then turn into a bag or container and return to the freezer, so you can grab small portions as needed. Ice-cube trays are a good way to freeze leftover canned coconut milk, too.
These delicious date brownies use half a cup of coconut milk - pop the rest in the freezer so it's there next time you want to whip up a batch.
Kale, spinach and other leafy greens
Baby spinach can be blended with a small amount of water then frozen in ice-cube trays, ready to be added to smoothies or stews, where the water content won’t matter. Alternatively for larger greens such as English spinach, silverbeet and kale, blanch (this food safety website has good guidelines for times) and refresh greens, pack into containers, cover with cold water then freeze. Small leaves can be frozen whole, while large leaves can be cut into pieces before blanching. Remember to wash greens before chopping and freezing.
Herbs can also be frozen in water or olive oil in ice-cube trays.
A good overall rule is to make sure you only freeze ingredients that are in good condition. Bananas are an exception – you can freeze bananas that are a little overripe, and then use them to make delicious banana bread (check out our banana bread recipe collection here). Freeze them peeled and whole for baking, or follow this method for freezing banana slices so that you can grab a handful at a time for smoothies.
And if you are wondering whether you can blanch vegetables in the microwave before freezing, this excellent guide to freezing (and refreezing) all kinds of fruit, vegetables and other food says it’s just not as good as boiling or steaming.