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Posted on Jun 26, 2008 in Freezing, Organize, Tips | 36 comments

Speed tip: Frozen corn in plastic drink bottles

Speed tip: Frozen corn in plastic drink bottles

Frozen corn in plastic water bottle

I’ve written previously about freezing chopped green onions in plastic water bottles to reduce spoilage and speed up prep time, but this technique isn’t limited to green onions alone. Clean, dry water bottles are also handy for storing small frozen vegetables like corn or green peas — a technique I’ve run across before in my Japanese-language freezing books (also in the full list of food books in my kitchen). (Read on for full freezer storage details.)

Frozen corn & green onions in plastic water bottles

I just did a massive reorganization of my kitchen for a featured kitchen tour in Apartment Therapy’s food blog TheKitchn.com (stay tuned!), and thought I’d try out this tip as long as I was on an organizational rampage anyway. I used a funnel to pour bagged, frozen corn into a clean water bottle, put on the cap, and stored it lengthwise on a narrow tray set on a low shelf in my freezer. If I’d been thinking more clearly I would have used a permanent marker to write “corn” and “green onions” on the caps to make them even more glanceable, but the clear bottles let me quickly see what’s inside. Better use of plastic bottles than just tossing them into the recycle bin!

I was then able to retire the really big bag of frozen corn to my chest freezer downstairs, freeing up space in the smaller upstairs freezer. You can do this with fresh corn on the cob too: just stand the ear of corn upright, cut off the kernels, and freeze them on a metal tray first to keep them from clumping together in the bottle. To use, just remove the cap, shake out just as much as you need, replace the cap and return to the freezer. This, frozen green peas and frozen green onions will come in handy when I make my quick spinach side dish, stovetop mini frittata, fried rice, microwave mixed rice, soups, or curries. (Click on any photo for a larger view.)

To avoid clumping, make sure that anything you’re going to freeze is as dry as you can make it (use paper towels) — moisture is your enemy. Second, try to use up frozen foods in a timely fashion (i.e. within a month or so for best food quality). Third, if the corn or green onions do clump in the bottle, just shake it up, whack it on the counter, or poke the inside of the bottle with a chopstick to loosen the contents. If you’re concerned about clumping or getting the vegetables in the bottle, try using bottles with wide mouths. If you’re concerned about freezing plastic, try using a clean, dry glass bottle with a wide mouth (a la Snapple).

Sorry about the web silence this week, BTW — I’ve been terrified of this photo shoot and heads-down trying to get my messy kitchen in shape and ready for its close-up. Lest you think I’m Martha who lives in House Beautiful, I took “before” pictures and will post full details here on Lunch in a Box once the write-up is up on TheKitchn.com. (You know, like I did with my embarassingly messy bookcase in my earlier post on reorganizing my lunch gear.) No mysteries here!

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  1. What a great, innovative tip!! Thank you!!

  2. I think it would be easier to move than to get my kitchen ready for a photo tour :)

  3. So, what do you when the inevitable happens and they freeze together into a lump?

  4. The plastic bottle trick works for beansprouts too: I store mixed beansprouts and spring (green) onions this way so I always have them ready for instant noodle salad (add chopped red pepper, add noodles, add peanut sauce that can sit in the fridge until needed, and pack!)

  5. I’d whack the bottle on the kitchen counter ;). It’s what I do with the baggies once the contents starts getting lumpy.

    I’m totally gonna pour blueberries into bottles! So convenient for making breakfast smoothies!

  6. Hey, this is a great idea! I desperately need to organize my fridge and freezer. Planning on a massive clean out over the weekend. I need to make everything easier to find, so that I know what food is in there before it spoils. :P

  7. I’ve been doing your green onion tip – last week I made fried rice, and it was so nice to be able to add green onion to it (usually I only buy green onions when making steam fish or grilled salmon – and after a week in the fridge, the bunch is usually slimy and ready for the trash)…so nice to not have to waste!

  8. By the way – can’t wait to see your feature over at AT…am a regular reader there – usually just the ohdeedoh (baby) section – but will definitely check out the kitchn section :-)

  9. Okay that is just an awesome idea. I use baggies, but bottles are a great way to recycle. Thank you. You are truly the Bento/Kitchen Goddess:)

  10. @2 from Lisa: Trust me, the thought crossed my mind! Mostly I thought that getting a new refrigerator would be easier than cleaning and organizing mine — man, that was a big undertaking. The upshot is that the photo shoot is now over and I finally have a clean, organized kitchen! (How long will it last before messy entropy takes over? We’ll see.)

  11. @3 from Derek L.: A few things help with the clumping issue. First off, make sure that anything you’re going to freeze is as dry as you can make it (use paper towels) — moisture is your enemy. Second, try to use up frozen foods in a timely fashion (i.e. within a month or so for best food quality) — it won’t have a chance to clump up then. Third, if the corn or green onions do clump in the bottle, just shake it up, whack it on the counter, or poke the inside of the bottle with a chopstick to loosen the contents. If you’re really concerned about this, try using bottles with wide mouths instead of regular bottles so there’s a larger opening. If you’re concerned about the plastic issue, try using a clean, dry glass bottle with a wide mouth (a la Snapple).

  12. @4 from Amelia: What kind of beansprouts? Are they small enough to fit through the opening, or do you use a widemouth bottle? Do you keep them in the fridge or the freezer? I’m just full of questions today…

  13. @5 from Petra: I hadn’t thought of blueberries, but they’d be a perfect candidate for freezing in bottles! I might use a widemouth bottle for them, though — sometimes the blueberries we get are really big.

  14. @6 from Sile: The thing I’m most pleased with for my chest freezer reorg is a thin magnetic sheet (quite big) with a whiteboard surface that I put on top of the freezer with a magnetic whiteboard marker and built-in eraser. Doesn’t take up much space as it sticks to the freezer, and I can quickly add tick-marks tallying how many of whatever is in the freezer. Saves me opening it up and rooting around (and double-buying stuff I already have). Good luck with your kitchen cleaning and organization — mine took me a full week! (Whew, it’s done now!)

  15. @7 from Ella: I save a bunch of green onions the night before taking this photo with a bunch that was about to go off. I keep the beautiful, new green onions for dishes where they’ll be eaten raw; cooked dishes can have the frozen ones where texture isn’t so much an issue.

    I’m curious to see the Apartment Therapy kitchen tour myself — I had assumed it was just going to be a brief thing, but they asked a lot of questions and took many, many photos.

  16. The beansprouts I use are just called “beansprouts” over here: just the sprouted shoot not the bean itself, they fit pretty easily into a standard plastic bottle, you just have to filter them in by hand so they go in lengthways instead of spraying all over the kitchen counter.

  17. So glad your back in action,
    So glad you got the kitchen organized,
    and so excited to see the article on AT

    KCatGU

  18. Mi piace il tuo blog!
    ho voglia di mangiare quello che proponi!
    I tuoi piatti sono divertenti e spiritosi!

    Amo quello che crei!

    J’aime ton blog !
    J’ai envie de manger ce que tu proposes !
    Ta nourriture est rigolote et amusent !

    J’aime ce que tu crées !

  19. gratz on the feature!

  20. Can you explain why this is better than packing them in ziplock bags? I would think bags would be easier to fit into small spaces in the freezer than a full sized water bottle.

  21. @17 from KCatGU: The AT writer says it’ll be about a week until the kitchen tour is up over there; we’ll see how it turns out!

  22. @20 from Lisa: I don’t think bottles are necessarily the best answer for all little vegetables, just ones that you use often in small quantities. For me, it’s faster to shake some out of a bottle than mess with freezer containers, bags and rubber bands, and ziplock bags tend to get lost in my freezer and I forget that they’re there. Some of my J-lang freezer books show the plastic bottles standing up in pull-out freezer drawers, or tucked into freezer cubbies made out of empty milk cartons. Depends on the layout of your freezer and your personal cooking style, I’d think.

  23. this is a neat idea, to store in bottles n shake out what you need.

  24. Great tip- I’ll try it- that is if I can get my freezer organized ;0

  25. My frozen peas always clump in the packets after opening. I wonder if transferring them to a bottle when they are first opened might stop this…

  26. @26 from Raine: Thanks for the heads-up, Raine! Glad to hear that SlashFood liked this tip. :-)

  27. @27 from Metanoia: You might also want to check the temperature of your freezer and make sure that it’s set to under 0 deg. F (not C) for most stable freezing. That, coupled with using smaller baskets in the freezer so you can minimize the time with the freezer door open (boosting the freezer temperature and starting some foods to defrost), would help prevent clumping as things defrost and re-freeze.

  28. wow,thanks !! this is a fantastic and ingenius tip !!! i always have clumps in my corns and frozen veges. Never knew you could store them in plastic mineral water bottles either.

  29. hi
    You always have so many things to teach all of us you are really great!!!!

  30. I thought there was an issue with toxins leeching from the plastic into your food if you used the plastic water bottles in the freezer. Is that just for liquids? Have you heard about this? I love the idea, but I’m afraid of the toxins.

  31. I love this tip! Our green onions always end up going bad in the fridge. I should try this!

    I have a question for you about freezing vegatables. I really like Zuchini with Korean BBQ sauce and am trying to find a quick way to add it to lunches. I’m thinking of steaming the sliced Zucchini and then freezing. Then when I need it I can resteam and toss in the sauce. What do you think? Will the texture be wonky? Should I freeze it raw?

  32. This is freaking ridiculous.
    Are all you moms out there this nuts.
    Plastic bottles for vegetables?
    Just buy smaller quantities. Costco isn’t the answer to all your shopping needs.

  33. @34 from Kaits: I would think that freezing steamed zucchini would be better texture-wise than freezing raw zucchini. Sorry about the delay in responding! I’m trying to get caught up…

  34. @35 from Whattaya Kiddinme: It’s true that buying smaller quantities would be one solution. After recently watching the Alton Brown Good Eats show on freezing, though, I’ve started having second thoughts about this technique as the exposure to the air in the bottle would encourage freezer burn. Bags may be a better option after all.

    BTW, while I welcome differing views here including yours, name-calling isn’t really appropriate. Always happy to listen to considered opinions, though!

  35. Just wanted to mention, that freezing plastic bottles isn’t recommended as it leaches BPA into food. Why not just use a ziploc bag?

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