I love cooking but with work and the kids there is never enough time so I am happy to consider a few shortcuts. Here is one of my favourites.
Since a girlfriend made me discover them, I have become addicted to frozen, ready to use, cooking ingredients.
Garlic and onions are the ones I use the most but there are plenty more of them to chose from (lemon grass, shallots, basil, ginger, chives, coriander, mint, chillies and more) and they are all cleaned, washed, chopped and ready to use straight from frozen.
Although there are a few brands around, my favourites are the Cook’s Ingredients by Waitrose. They are high quality (I noticed the onions are cleaned better and chopped finely) and have a nice range of interesting pre-mixed selections. I love their Thai Mix, a well balanced mixture of lemongrass, coriander, ginger, chilli and garlic – just perfect in almost any oriental dish.
Frozen ingredients are not perfect:
1) They can be a bit too wet (this is mostly an issue with herbs-garlic and onions are fine),
2) Their taste is a bit tamed when compared to the fresh ones,
3) At times the herbs freeze into big clusters so you need a knife or a hammer to break them down into more manageable pieces and
4) They won’t help you much in garnishing your dishes (again this is mostly an issue with herbs).
But here is why I always want to have them in my freezer:
-They save me the time, work and tears of preparing fresh ingredients (I have to admit peeling and chopping onions and garlic is not one of my favourites and is time consuming – I am fine washing and preparing basil leaves!).
-I just use what I need every time I cook – I have less waste and no more half empty bags sitting in the fridge and often forgotten before I need them again.
– Even if I prefer the ‘fresh staff’ it is so handy to always keep a pack in the freezer in case of emergency.
– Last but not least, the pricing of frozen herbs is more reasonable than the packs of fresh herbs in supermarkets. Tesco retails a bag of 30gr of Basil at 70p which is GBP 23 per kg! I can instead buy my frozen ingredients when they are on offer (2 packs of 75 gr for GBP 2.50) which I find acceptable.
And another thing, I’ve read a tip for keeping alive for longer the pots of herbs you find in supermarkets: re-potting them into larger or multiple pots. Apparently they’re planted densely to look better but the roots can be too crammed for them to survive! Worth a try…