Foodstuffs for later?
November 21, 2010 3:56 PM   Subscribe

Pesto, caramelized onions.... What other foodstuff additives can I make in advance that will freeze well and provide meal interest for months in advance? I'm a vegetarian (not vegan) but if you want to answer for the benefit of omnivores, that's okay, too.
posted by Morrigan to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 89 users marked this as a favorite
Fresh herbs can be frozen.
posted by fire&wings at 3:57 PM on November 21, 2010

Homemade curry paste
posted by piedmont at 4:03 PM on November 21, 2010

-roasted red peppers (or hot peppers)
-really good stock
-candied/spiced nuts
-pastry dough
posted by juliapangolin at 4:04 PM on November 21, 2010

I had a bumper crop of chilies in my garden this year, so Mrs. Deadmessenger and I made and froze about a liter of vindaloo paste a couple of weekends ago.

on preview: what piedmont said
posted by deadmessenger at 4:06 PM on November 21, 2010

Greg Nog asked a question about what requires a lot of prep time, and instead got tons of answers to your actual question. Read through that for stuff that doesn't require a lot of prep time, but can be made well ahead of time.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 4:08 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Stock is mighty important to add flavor to risotto, broths and and many other things.
Vegetable stock, shrimp stock, lobster stock, etc all freeze very well and are good to have on hand.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:09 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

-really good stock

This doesn't help vegetarians, but if you buy cuts of meat with bones in them, you can save the bones in the freezer until you have enough to make some really good stock.
posted by axiom at 4:09 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Strawberry freezer jam.
Lemon curd.
Homemade bisquik. (Missouri Mix)
posted by SLC Mom at 4:10 PM on November 21, 2010

Others have said stock, and I agree that's a wonderful thing to have on hand. Better yet to have on hand is demi-glace, or the beef or chicken varieties of it.
posted by deadmessenger at 4:11 PM on November 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

I dry herbs from my garden, then refrigerate to keep the flavor longer. Mark Bittman has a great recipe for vegetable stock; divide and freeze! Cookies, fruit breads of course. Mashed sweet potatoes freeze great, and can be added as a sauce to pasta, or mixed with nuts and Ginger as a side. Chopped, roasted butternut squash, add to pasta or risotto.
posted by Malla at 4:12 PM on November 21, 2010

Best answer: Slow-roasted tomatoes
posted by fancyoats at 4:17 PM on November 21, 2010

This isn't of any use to vegetarians, but...

I make taco meat a pound at a time. Then I freeze it in an ice cube tray. When I want to make a quesadilla, I put two cubes of meat into the microwave and give them 30 seconds to melt them.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:20 PM on November 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Tomato paste/sauce. A good dense tomato sauce made from fresh tomatoes and other veggies keeps a long time. You can add water when heating it up to get to the right consistency.

Herbs can be diced, mixed with enough water to make a paste, and frozen in ice cube trays. Add a cube to a simmering dish with enough time for it to heat up and it's almost as good as adding them fresh. It can also be fun to make specific mixes ("herb bombs!") to have on hand.
posted by graftole at 4:23 PM on November 21, 2010

Chocolate Pickle: I used to pre-make baby food and store it that way. Freeze, pop 'em out and store it in a zippy bag.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:27 PM on November 21, 2010

cookie dough
lemon zest and juice
minced garlic and ginger
posted by Majorita at 4:29 PM on November 21, 2010

Best answer: Sliced green onions
(i slice up a few bunches of green onions and store it in the freezer. Then whenever i'm making something (usually an asian-y soup or stirfry) that requires just a little bit of green onion, i can grab a handful and sprinkle it in, without having to worry about using up an entire bunch.)

creme fraiche
(Frozen in an ice cube tray, pop out a cube and throw it in a pot of sauce or whatever to make something creamy, without then having to use an entire tub.)
posted by Kololo at 4:39 PM on November 21, 2010

I slice leeks and cook in plenty of butter, then puree and freeze. A dollop added at the end to any soup makes it significantly better. Other successes:
roasted garlic
lemon peel (in oil or juice)
herb blends (mix with oil to withstand freezing)
posted by cali at 4:46 PM on November 21, 2010

Best answer: My parents freeze loaves of bread to defrost and eat later. Rye seems to fare decently well for at least a month. We're vegetarians too. :)
posted by patronuscharms at 5:02 PM on November 21, 2010

Olive tapenade. Freeze in ice cube trays then store in ziploc bags. Add a cube or two to soup, pasta sauce, casseroles.

An old Italian nonna (grandma) trick -- freeze the rind from parmesan cheese, then cut up and add to slow-cooked soup or sauce.
posted by Srudolph at 5:09 PM on November 21, 2010

I once froze a huge batch of diced mirepoix (onions, carrots, celery) because I often use that combination in my one-pot dishes. It saved me a lot of time.

I also keep yoghurt cubes in my freezer. Whenever I want fresh yogurt in the morning for my oatmeal or smoothie, I pop one cube in a cup of warm milk (milk should be boiled). I cover the cup and put it in a warm place. In the morning I have perfect thick yogurt.

Flavoured butters are great, you can roll them into sausage shape, slice them and freeze slices.

Also, I usually make big batch of homemade pate. I wrap them individually in cling film into little sausages, so I can quickly de-frost them.
posted by leigh1 at 5:14 PM on November 21, 2010 [4 favorites]

axiom: This doesn't help vegetarians, but if you buy cuts of meat with bones in them, you can save the bones in the freezer until you have enough to make some really good stock.

You can do a similar thing with vegetable scraps, then make veggie stock when you have enough, and freeze that if you want to save it.
posted by JiBB at 5:20 PM on November 21, 2010

Best answer: Compound butters! Just unsalted butter that you soften, mix with herbs and/or spices or citrus zest, and roll up into a cylinder in plastic wrap and refreeze. Great on steamed veggies, fish, anything really.

On preview, what leigh1 said.

oh, and BTW,

I'm a vegetarian (not vegan) but if you want to answer for the benefit of omnivores, that's okay, too.

That, right there, is some class.
posted by werkzeuger at 5:21 PM on November 21, 2010 [7 favorites]

-Roasted garlic keeps really well in the freezer, as does minced satueed garlic.

-Make cookie dough, portion it out (whatever the recipe said - tablespoon size, slices, etc.) and freeze on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Then pop them all into a zip-top bag. When you want a cookie, or two, or a half-dozen, just bake as usual (you may have to add a minute or two; depends on the dough).
posted by cooker girl at 5:30 PM on November 21, 2010

I keep bags of diced mangoes in my freezer. Just add a little Fruit Fresh to them so they don't turn brown.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:51 PM on November 21, 2010

Unbaked buttermilk biscuits.
Phyllo triangles filled with various things -- we like a mixed mushroom duxelles or a morrocan chicken, but I'm sure there are other possibilities too.
Fresh fruit when it's in season.
Corn soup.
posted by novalis_dt at 6:42 PM on November 21, 2010

Also, home made bread. If you make a double sized loaf, you can split it in two before the last rising. Form each half into a loaf, let one rise and then bake it. Freeze the other, pop it into the fridge the night before you want to bake it, then pull it out for a final rise and then bake.
posted by JiBB at 8:51 PM on November 21, 2010

Best answer: Bit late, but, when strawberries are in season I sprinkle them with just enough sugar to get their juices flowing, and freeze the resulting macerated super-strawberries in little portions so I can make excellent sundaes. (Do add a sliced banana when you make one with the strawberry) If I picked slightly sub-par strawberries I have added a tiny hit of vanilla and/or lemon to punch them up a bit.

Cilantro is not unfreezeable. It is nowhere near what it is when fresh, but, a great glob of frozen cilantro will make you not quite so fussed about not having any fresh when you have an I-need-this-cilantro-topped dish. Dunno what the popular idea about freezing herbs in water in ice cubes is; no need, just mince and put it in a pot and take out pinches as you need them.

Sauteed shallots -- a little bag of that will improve a lot; sauteed mushrooms are nice to have on hand too; also: duxelles

The last cup in a bottle of wine usually ends up in my freezer; the white goes in white sauces and risotto and the red in tomato

Omelette fillings -- saute up a good combo of veg, put in baggies; when it's cool, add the grated cheeses and herbs -- great omelette in a flash

Wee portions of whipping cream (which will improve a lot of ready-made "boil for ten minutes and then add packet X" stuff from boxes)

Fruit put through a juicer (or some fruits put through a good blender) + sugar = lovely juice concentrate; Dixie cups are great for freezing this, as you can nuke them briefly, and it's about the right amount for a small glass once you've added some water.
posted by kmennie at 9:36 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not vegetarian, but:
I just yesterday spent an afternoon making about 2½ kilos of ragù pasta sauce, usually known outside Italy as Bolognese. It's a lot of work (stirring, watching it doesn't burn, adding broth if it dries out, etc.) over quite a long period of time, and the work's the same whether you make 100g. or 2500g., so it makes sense to do a lot and freeze it. This morning I woke it up and am currently giving it a second thorough simmer (always better the next day). Then I'll put it in those espresso-size paper cups which are exactly the right size for a single serving, put transparent film wrap on top and freeze it. Then, any time I don't feel like cooking today, or unexpected people drop by, just thaw out one cup per person while the spaghetti are cooking and a plate of pasta with home-made ragù is ready.
posted by aqsakal at 11:12 PM on November 21, 2010

As piedmont said, curry pastes. But also, just garlic paste and ginger paste. Flaked nuts or nut slivers (almonds, pistachios). You can toast them just before using. Grated coconut.

In my mom's freezer: diced unripe papaya, peeled garlic cloves (she insists that the paste tastes better freshly made. I agree, but find the difference insufficient to make up for the added work of waiting for the garlic to thaw), stock, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes.

In my mum-in-law's freezer: unripe papaya paste (frozen in ice cube trays), peeled garlic cloves, lemon juice (frozen in ice cube trays), puree of unripe mangoes (frozen in yogurt tubs of serving size), tamarind chutney, berries, grated beets (in freezer bags frozen flat), slivered ginger, caramelized onions, chopped onions.

There are a bunch of other things, but they don't count as additives (chickpeas & other beans, prepped veggies (some uncooked, some cooked), e.g.
posted by bardophile at 3:16 AM on November 22, 2010

Gyoza! Veggie or meaty, as you prefer. Fill, crimp, freeze on parchment paper and pop into ziploc bags. Steam for a quick lunch or dinner.
posted by cyndigo at 10:44 AM on November 22, 2010

Soup. Make it very concentrated. If you've got the space and time, clingfilm the bowls you will eat it in, half fill with soup and freeze. When frozen, retrieve your bowls, bag the soup lumps and return to the freezer.

For a speedy starter, grab the right number of soup lumps, chuck them back in the bowls, defrost and dilute.

Lemon slices. Freeze them spread out on a baking tray. Once frozen, get them all off the tray and put in a bag. Instant ice/lemon drink interest.

Home made pizza bases. Optionally, with tomato sauce already on them.

Fish pie mix (or fish soup mix or fish stew mix) if you cook for small enough numbers that enough different fish for a good fish pie is too much fish.

Ingredients for any dish you really like that is fiddly to prep for or has a lot of ingredients. Chop enough ingredients for plenty, bag them up into one or two meal lots and freeze. Frozen mise-en-place, if you will.
posted by emilyw at 3:38 PM on November 26, 2010

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