by Cora L. Diekman
fresh corn on the cob
We all look forward to that sweet spot every year when summer produce is at its freshest, tastiest, and most affordable. When the time is right, stock up on sweet summer corn and store the excess in your freezer because (YES!) you can freeze fresh corn! Straight from the farm, the ears can be popped directly into the freezer inside the husk. For corn purchased from the grocery store, husk and blanch ears first, and allow to cool before freezing in airtight storage containers.
Here’s a jaw-dropper: you CAN freeze leftover wine for future use! Never throw away old wine again – just freeze in individual portions, and pull out later as needed. Red and white varieties freeze equally well. This method is especially useful for cooking or whipping up a batch of delicious, summery Frozen Sangria.
avocados and guacamole
It simply isn’t summer without a cold margarita and a bowl of zesty guacamole dip for poolside snacking. Unfortunately, both avocados and guacamole have a short shelf life and a reputation for browning quickly. But never fear – both can be frozen at their freshest for creamy avocado goodness anytime. The key to maintaining that vibrant green hue is airtight storage, making plastic freezer bags an ideal solution. For preserving plain avocado, peel and mash the fruit into a paste, add a squeeze of citrus juice to prevent browning, and store in freezer bags with all excess air removed. Prepared guacamole can be preserved in the same manner. Tip: when freezing large amounts, divide into individual portions for easy thawing and serving.
Actually, all chocolate can be frozen to preserve shelf life, but for an especially freezer-friendly chocolate recipe, try this twist on chocolate bark. Made with a simple combination of four ingredients, this summertime treat is like frozen yogurt chopped into fun bark-like pieces. Full-fat Greek yogurt provides the richness of ice cream, while honey, cocoa powder, and bananas add plenty of yummy flavor.
Nothing compares to the flavor of homemade hummus, and it’s easy to prep in large batches. Store extra servings in the freezer for a readymade snack anytime. Tip: to prevent your hummus from drying out, top with a layer of olive oil before storing.
Yes, we already mentioned wine, but we think summer calls for LOTS of delicious frozen wine concoctions. If you’re looking for a recipe other than frozen sangria, try a wine poptail, like this version with fig and clementine.
This yummy summertime take on hot chocolate is the perfect hot weather sweet treat. There’s also a LOT more going on here than simple chocolate – coffee, cinnamon, and ground cayenne pepper give this delicious beverage an inspired flair.
hot chocolate (kid-appropriate)
For a frozen hot chocolate recipe that’s more kid-friendly (minus the coffee and cayenne pepper), this peanut butter version is chock full of rich, sweet dessert flavors – complete with homemade Peanut Butter Whipped Cream. Yum!
Because pesto is largely comprised of fresh basil, it’s a quintessential summertime flavor. Pesto is super versatile, and can be used to top nearly anything – pasta, potatoes, grilled veggies, fish, chicken, and pork, are just a few options. Like hummus, pesto is mixed up in the food processor, making it ideal for prepping large batches at once. To freeze, separate into individual servings (ice cube trays work well for this) and freeze in an airtight container until ready to use.
You’ve probably never thought to freeze mushrooms before, but it’s totally doable, and a great summertime grilling shortcut. To freeze, chop mushrooms and toss in melted butter before tossing into the freezer. Use to top grilled pizza, burgers, fajitas, or throw into a pasta sauce for added flavor and texture.
Berries are delicate, and can be difficult to preserve. To properly freeze blueberries, store them whole WITHOUT washing them first, and ensure berries are completely dry before placing into the freezer (water will break the berries down into a mushy mess – yuck). Or, for an upgrade on your average frozen blueberry, try whipping up a batch of Frozen Yogurt Blueberry Bites. They’re easy to make, healthy, kid-friendly, and great for summertime snacking.
Ok, so maybe beets don’t top your list of favorite foods, but it’s hard to resist the electric pink hue of this Honey and Beet Frozen Yogurt. Five simple ingredients, including Greek yogurt and honey, create a flavor that’s creamy and sweet – and yes, that shocking pink color is 100% natural.
Instead of wasting that extra unused garlic, throw whole heads into the freezer until you need them again. No, you don’t have to peel it first, and if you roast it whole at a later date, you NEVER have to deal with peeling or chopping. You’re welcome.
fresh summer herbs
Even if you don’t have space for growing summer veggies, anyone with a window and a pot can grow herbs. Basil, mint, cilantro, and dill grow well in containers, and add fresh flavor to practically any recipe. Unfortunately, the freshness of summer herbs is short lived, so proper preservation is key. To preserve flavor and prevent mushiness, roughly chop washed herbs, pack into ice cube trays, and top up with olive oil before freezing. Once frozen, remove the cubes from trays and store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Chips are a must for barbecues and poolside snacking, but they’re only good when fresh and crisp – no one likes a stale snack. Rather than waiting for leftovers to go soft, pack extra chips into an airtight bag and pop into the freezer to preserve that tempting crunch. Bonus: frozen chips thaw almost instantly for anytime snacking.
Ok, we all know that yogurt is freezable, but why stop there? Up your frozen yogurt game with these yummy Fo-Yo Granola Bites, which make for a simple breakfast, dessert, or party snack all summer long.
Some bakers freeze their flour, abiding by the rule that cold ingredients make for flakier pastry. But that’s not the only reason to keep flour on ice – the freezer preserves freshness and extends shelf life. Fresh flour is a must for yummy summertime treats, like homemade pizza dough and all of those temptingly sweet summer fruit pies – just be sure that it’s stored in an airtight container to prevent it from absorbing any nearby freezer odors.
As the price of eggs (especially cage free and organic) continues to rise, there has never been a better time to learn this freezer hack – yes, eggs can be frozen, as long as they are removed from their shells first. Crack into individual serving sizes for easy portioning later on, and NEVER throw away expired eggs again. Tip: the safest defrosting method is the fridge, so think ahead and allow enough time for a proper thaw.
Quesadillas, tacos, breakfast burritos – so many great foods begin and end with a tortilla. Luckily, they also keep well in the freezer, so you never have to worry about wasting leftovers again.
Surprisingly, many doughs freeze well, including dough for pizza. Follow your favorite recipe for homemade pizza dough, and instead of rolling out, roll your dough into a ball and freeze until needed. And as always, airtight storage is a must.
You may be surprised to know that cheese can be frozen, and as long as it’s stored in an airtight container, it retains its same flavor when thawed. Soft cheeses are best stored whole, but hard cheeses may be frozen either whole or shredded. Tip: always thaw in the refrigerator for best results.
If you’ve never tried making banana ice cream before, you may not be familiar with the wonderful properties of the simple frozen banana. Throw a frozen banana into the food processor, and you have instant banana flavored ‘ice cream’ with the same creamy consistency as frozen yogurt. No matter what you use them for (smoothies, ice cream, chocolate covered banana pops) they are super simple to freeze. Chop into 1-inch pieces, and store in airtight storage bags until ready to use (or follow this recipe for whole banana pops).
Yes, even potatoes can be frozen, but there is a trick to doing it right. They must be blanched first before cold storage. Peel the skin, dice, blanch for 5 minutes in boiling water, then dunk into cold water for 10 minutes until cool. Since pieces tend to stick together, the best way to prevent this is to separate them on a baking tray until frozen, then transfer the potatoes to a more space-saving freezer bag for storage.
Along with cheese and eggs, milk can also be frozen to extend shelf life. Divide into individual portions or consider using an ice cube tray for manageable serving sizes. Always defrost in the refrigerator, and shake to redistribute fat that may have separated during the freezing process.
Surprise – cooked pasta can be frozen, too! Just be sure that the pasta is dry and sealed well before placing it in the freezer. Tip: this hack also applies to fresh pasta which will otherwise spoil quickly due to the inclusion of fresh eggs.
Isn’t it funny how much rice expands when it cooks? If you suddenly realize you’ve made too much, allow it to cool, and then pop the extra into the freezer. Leftover rice is ideal for dishes like fried rice, which cook better when rice is allowed to lose some of its original moisture. We also like the idea of this Pineapple Rice, which is the perfect pairing for summer mains like grilled shrimp, pork, or chicken.
How many times have you halved a fresh lemon for a recipe or cocktail, and then forgotten it in the refrigerator? Next time, tightly wrap the leftovers and place in the freezer for future use – like in a batch of these Creamy Whole Lemon Ice Pops.
Have you ever wondered what to do with all of that extra buttercream leftover after frosting a batch of cupcakes? Well, wonder no more – scrape the excess into a freezer bag, and store in the deep freeze for next time. For best results, buttercream should be thawed to room temperature to ensure a smooth, spreadable consistency.
It’s not just about the buttercream – cake can also be frozen and frosted at a later date. This baking hack is a huge time saver when prepping in advance for a party or event. Bake your cake a day or two ahead of time, and frost the day of the party. Just remember that frosted cakes DO NOT freeze well, so plain cakes only, please. Allow your freshly baked cake to cool completely, wrap securely with several layers of plastic wrap until airtight, and place in the freezer until needed.
You may be surprised to know that the oil in nuts spoils quite quickly, changing the flavor of your favorite salty snack. Rather than allow them to spoil in the pantry, store in the freezer to preserve freshness. They thaw in no time, so no worries if a craving hits.
If you like to cook, chances are you’ve come across a recipe or two that calls for a small amount of grated fresh ginger – but what to do with the rest of that ginger root? Skip the fridge, and store in the freezer instead. It will be just as fresh the next time you need some – like in a batch of these yummy Ginger Popsicles.
This kind of freezer hack is perfect for summer nights when dinner happens on the grill. If you have a batch of cookie dough ready to go in the freezer, you can spend as little time in the kitchen as possible. Simply scoop out what you need, pop in the oven, and DONE. Instant homemade cookie goodness without the work. Tip: roll cookie dough into ‘logs’ before freezing so that you can slice off cookie-shaped portions and place directly onto your baking sheet.
This freezer hack is a weeknight dinner lifesaver – make a large batch of shredded chicken on the weekend, divide into appropriate portions, and pull out as needed the next week for a no-fuss dinner solution. Add to pasta, salads, chile, or THESE amazingly simple weeknight tacos.