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Tuesday 28 April 2020

The ‘rona report, part 2: Freezer pleaser

This week we have mainly been drinking frozen margaritas. You?

It all started with the frozen lemon slices. Before long, I was freezing pretty much anything that wasn’t nailed down...

When you grow your own veg, you quickly learn to love the freezer. We make huge batches of passata with our tomatoes and freeze them for winter. Our entire basil crop gets frozen into a couple of dozen bags of pesto. We freeze surplus veg. We freeze (as well as dry) homegrown chillies and herbs. 

I've even been known to keep a stash of emergency crumble topping in the freezer. That's how dedicated I am to my chest freezer. But, lately, we’ve kicked it up a notch and are freezing more than ever. Anyone else doing this? When we venture out to the shops, I buy extra veg to cook down for the freezer. It’s all getting used, too, since we’re eating like a pair of wrestlers.

I’ve even taken to freezing slices of banana to make frozen banana daiquiris on demand. Anyone else? Just me?

Onions can be frozen as well. I remember once seeing ready chopped, frozen onions in the supermarket and thinking (judgemental goblin that I am), ugh, what kind of gross chav uses frozen onions? But when we ran out of fresh onions recently, I would have been very grateful to have a bag of frozen onions. So next time we went shopping, we bought extra onions for freezing. Just dice and bag up in useful portions. Admittedly, it’s not the funnest way to spend an hour, peeling and chopping a dozen onions...

We’re also freezing chopped, sauteed mushrooms. This may sound like a faff, and it is, but when you’re making something like veggie burgers from scratch, which already involves a lot of elements, not having to clean and cook mushrooms is a big time-saver. Now we just get a bag out of the freezer and they defrost in no time.

Speaking of burgers, when we’re going to the effort of making our own veggie burgers (beetroot, carrots, onions, mushrooms, spices, breadcrumbs, and whatever beans and lentils we have lying around), we make a batch of at least 12 and freeze them before cooking. We also routinely keep burger buns (sometimes bought, sometimes homemade) in the freezer. Since the burgers can be cooked from frozen and the buns don’t take long to defrost, we’re only ever 30 minutes away from smashing a delicious burger into our mouths. There’s something deeply reassuring about that, especially now that we’re eating like wrestlers.

In case you’re worried that our fridge is feeling left out, it isn’t. It’s full of mysterious jars, like that jar of chickpea cooking water, or the used-up gherkin jar that we refuse to throw away because the pickling solution is good for dressings.

Reader, we've started pickling dill. (Just pack some chopped dill into a jar, pour hot white vinegar over the top, fasten and store in the fridge when cool.) It’s not as strong as fresh dill, but it gives a good enough dill-y hit for burger sauces and dressings.

Most of the garlic in the shops at this time of year is abysmal and won’t keep for long. (We’ve long since used up our homegrown garlic from last year.) So when we finally found a stash of decent garlic in a local shop, we bought LOADS of it and spent a good hour peeling every clove to store in vinegar (again, pack the cloves into a jar and pour over hot vinegar. Store in the fridge when cool).

Now, full disclosure, home-pickled garlic does have a worrying tendency to
turn blue, but The Internet assures us this is perfectly fine
and nothing to worry about.

I should stress again that we live only 10 miles from a well-stocked supermarket. Clearly all this activity stems from a need to try and control events, rather than any real fear that we’re going to starve. But from a control-freakery point of view, it’s working wonders.

How is your inner control freak making itself known?