Speed tip: Frozen corn in plastic drink bottles
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.)
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!