Month: July 2018

Dips & Sauces

Can You Freeze Spinach Dip?

Got leftover spinach dip from your last party? Apart from storing the dip in the fridge, how can you preserve it? Can you freeze spinach dip? Technically, you can freeze any type of food you like if only to avoid waste. To some extent, yes, you can freeze spinach dip. However, the state of the dip after it’s been defrosted will depend on the ingredients you use as well as the length of time that the dip was kept in the freezer.

The problem with freezing spinach dip is that the consistency could turn runny or watery once it’s been defrosted. Traditionally, spinach dip is made with cream cheese or sour cream, both of which are quite sensitive to freezing temps. The cream cheese in the dip could also turn crumbly; the milk proteins might separate too. The consistency of the dip could also turn grainy or chunky depending on how the dip was prepared.

Image used under Creative Commons from Ryan Dickey

In addition, the dip contains mayonnaise, another ingredient that’s problematic to freeze. Our advice is to make the dip in small batches to reduce the loss of quality. There are tricks to avoid these issues but don’t expect the dip to retain its original texture once it’s been frozen! If you are freezing the dip, use it later in recipes as opposed to serving it again as a dip so the texture won’t matter too much.

How to Make Classic Spinach Dip?

How to Freeze Spinach Dip?

Freezing Baked Spinach Dip

If you are making the spinach dip from scratch, you want to cool the dip completely after baking first. If you know that you will have leftovers, divide the portion between the dip that you will serve and the portion that you will freeze. This will help extend the shelf life of the dip and prevent cross-contamination.

Once the dip has cooled completely, divide it into serving portions. By dividing the dip into serving portions, thawing the spinach dip is much easier. Spoon the dip into a packet of freezer-safe, resealable plastic bag. Do not fill the bag fully; give about 2 inches of room for the dip to expand as it freezes. Squeeze out as much air as you can then seal. Write the storage date them stick flat in the freezer.

Another freezing technique involves using a couple of muffin trays. Just spoon the dip into each section of the tray. Repeat until the muffin molds are filled with the dip. Stick in the freezer and freeze for at least 2 hours or until frozen solid.

While waiting for the spinach dip to solidify, prepare a couple of resealable plastic bag. After two hours or so, take the tray out of the freezer. Pop the molded dip out carefully then place them into the resealable plastic bag. Work fast because the dip could melt during handling. Once packed, squeeze out as much air as you can then seal. Write the storage date them stick flat in the freezer.

Image used under Creative Commons from Jake Spurlock

Freezing Pre-Baked Spinach Dip

If you are concerned about the loss of the dip’s quality, you have the option to freeze the unbaked dip. However, this technique is best used for store-bought pre-baked spinach dips. These products contain stabilizers and preservatives that will help retain the quality of the dip even when they have been frozen before being baked.

Usually, pre-baked spinach dips are packed in freezer-friendly packaging but if they are bottled, you have to transfer the product in a freezer-safe container. Just use a spoon or a plastic spatula to transfer the product in a  resealable plastic bag. Again, do not fill the bag fully; give about 2 inches of room for the dip to expand as it freezes. Squeeze out as much air as you can then seal. Write the storage date them stick flat in the freezer. After thawing, you can pop the dip in the oven to bake.

Shelf Life, Thawing, and Reheating Suggestions

When kept in the freezer, the spinach dip should stay fresh for at least 3 months. However, we recommend using the dip as soon as you can for optimal flavor. To defrost the dip, just leave it to thaw overnight in the fridge. Never defrost the dip at room temperature because this increases the risk of bacterial growth. Once the dip has thawed completely, it might take on a watery consistency or the milk proteins might separate.

You can solve this issue by stirring in a little heavy cream and then blending the cream cheese. The consistency should become velvety and smooth once again. Once the cream cheese has been prepped after thawing, you can start reheating it.

There are many ways of reheating spinach dip. You can either pop the dip in the oven to warm it up or use the microwave. You can also reheat the dip in a saucepan. If you are reheating the dip in the oven, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the spinach dip in an oven-bake container then bake for 30 to 40 minutes until hot and bubbly.

If you want to reheat the spinach dip in the microwave, transfer the thawed dip in a microwave-safe container then nuke on high in 10-second intervals until thoroughly reheated. Finally, you can reheat the spinach dip in a saucepan. Set the stove on high heat, pour the dip into a skillet and then reheat for 15 minutes or so. Serve piping hot.

For the defrosted pre-baked dip, follow the cooking instruction on the packaging.

Image used under Creative Commons from HimmelrichPR

Freezing Tips

If you are planning to freeze a portion of the spinach dip you made, use full-fat cream cheese rather than low-fat cream cheese. Low-fat cream cheese is likely to turn watery once it’s frozen and defrosted.

While spinach dip could last for months in the freezer, most culinary experts recommend using the dip within two weeks or less.

If the spinach dip is made with mayonnaise or sour cream, reheat it over the stove. This is the best way to retain the consistency of the dip. As you warm the dip, stir often to bring back its thick and smooth texture.

Summary

Can you freeze spinach dip? Spinach dip may be tricky to freeze but it’s not impossible. With these tips, you can store your favorite dip and enjoy it later!

Herbs & Spices

Can You Freeze Mint Leaves?

Can you freeze mint leaves? Mint is a versatile herb. You can use it in cooking, baking, and for mixing drinks. Mint gives any drink or dishes a delightful zing and we’re happy to report that this herb freezes so well.

In fact, mint leaves can be frozen in several ways. In today’s post, we will be outlining 4 ways of freezing mint leaves. How you like to freeze the herb is entirely up to you! These methods apply to a variety of herbs apart from mint leaves.

Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Verch

Prepping the Mint Leaves for Freezing

To start, always choose the freshest and healthiest mint leaves you can find at your local supermarket or in your garden. Herbs are most intense in flavor during the morning so we recommend freezing the mint leaves at this time.

After picking the best mint leaves you can find, give the herbs a good rinsing but do so gently. Mint leaves are prone to bruising. Remove any wilting leaves and other debris. Once the mint leaves are clean, pat them with a paper towel. If you have time, give them a few minutes to air dry. You want to make sure the herbs are as dry as possible before proceeding to the next step.

Cut the stems of the leaves and set aside. At this point, you can cut the leaves to your desired size. You can also leave them uncut. Now the mint leaves are ready for freezing.

How to Freeze Mint Leaves?

Flash Freezing the Mint Leaves

This is a great freezing method if you are pressed for time and you have no plans of storing the herbs for the long term. Spread the clean and dry mint leaves on a lined tray or baking sheet. Make sure the mint leaves are not touching each other while laying them on the tray. If you are freezing a lot of mint leaves, do this in batches.

Stick the baking sheet or tray in the freezer and leave the herbs to freeze for an hour or two. After an hour or two, take the baking tray out of the freezer and place the frozen mint leaves in a resealable plastic bag. Squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing then seal. Write the storage date then stick flat in the freezer.

Freezing the Mint Leaves in Water

This is a great freezing method if you are planning to extend the freshness and color of the leaves. Best used for making drinks too!

After prepping the mint leaves for freezing, you can either chop them roughly or leave them whole. Take out a couple of ice cube trays and with a spoon, spoon the herb bits into each section of the tray. Repeat until all ice cube sections are filled with the mint leaves. Pour a little filtered water into each cube, don’t fill the section to the brim. The mint leaves will float when there’s too much water and you’ll make a mess.

After filling the ice tray with water, stick the trays in the freezer. Leave the herbs to freeze solid for at least 2 hours. Once the herbs are frozen solid, take the tray out of the freezer. Pop the cubed herbs out of the tray and place them gently in a resealable plastic bag. Squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing then seal. Write the storage date then stick flat in the freezer.

Image used under Creative Commons from Sprogz

Freezing the Mint Leaves in Oil

This freezing method is perfect for storing herbs to be used for soups, stews, and sauces. You can also use this trick to freeze oregano or thyme.

After prepping the mint leaves for freezing, pop the herb in a food processor, add about ¼ cup of olive oil then pulse to blend until a little chunky. Prepare an ice cube tray. Pour the blended mint leaves into each section of the ice cube tray. Again, do not fill each section to the brim because the blend will overflow, causing a mess.

Once the ice cube tray is filled with the blended mint leaves, put it in the freezer. Leave the herbs to freeze solid for at least 2 hours. Once the herbs are frozen solid, take the tray out of the freezer. Pop the cubed herbs and place them gently in a resealable plastic bag. Work fast because the warmth of your hands will cause the frozen oil to melt.

Squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing then seal. Write the storage date then stick flat in the freezer.

Drying and Freezing the Mint Leaves

This technique helps intensify the flavor of the herb while also prolonging its shelf life. After cleaning the herbs, lay the leaves on a microwave-safe tray. Pat the leaves dry or leave them to air dry for at least an hour. Once the herbs are nice and dry, pop the tray in the microwave then nuke on high for 1 to 3 minutes, pausing every 30 seconds to flip each leaf over for even drying.

After the leaves have dried, carefully place them in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

Storage and Freezing Tips

Apart from using a microwave to dry the mint leaves, you can also use a food dehydrator. You can also roast the mint leaves in the oven at 170 degrees for 2 to 3 hours until completely dry.

Release the aroma of thawed mint leaves by crushing them between your palms before adding to your favorite dish or drink.

Air-drying the mint leaves prior to packing them for freezing is also a great way to extend the herbs’ shelf life. Just leave the mint leaves to air dry for 1 to 2 weeks then pack for freezing.

Always use distilled or mineral water if you are freezing the mint leaves using water. This minimizes the risk of contamination after thawing.

Image used under Creative Commons from Darya Pino

Shelf Life and Thawing Suggestions

Frozen fresh mint leaves will keep in the freezer for at least 3 months. When dried, dehydrated, or roasted prior to freezing, the herbs will keep for at least 6 months.

There is no need to thaw the mint leaves if used in cooking or as an ingredient in drinks. Just add the frozen herbs directly into the cooking dish and the herb will thaw on their own due to the intense heat. As for the drinks, it’s best to use mint leaves frozen in water or dried mint leaves. Just pop a cubed mint leave in your drink and it will defrost slowly while cooling your drink!

Summary

Can you freeze mint leaves? Fresh mint leaves aren’t available all year round so it’s great to know that this herb freezes so well! Any of the freezing methods we’ve outlined above will do regardless of the season. Just choose the method that suits the drink or recipe that you are making!

Dessert

Can You Freeze Banana Pudding

Can you freeze banana pudding? Banana pudding is a popular dessert because of its delicious combination of flavors and textures. The delectable crunch of the vanilla wafers goes so well with the sweetness of the banana slices and the thick cream! But if say, you made a large batch of banana pudding or you have store-bought banana pudding leftovers, should you freeze the dessert for later? While we do not recommend freezing banana pudding, it can be done if only to avoid waste.

Image used under Creative Commons from Scott Vann

Should You Freeze Banana Pudding?

Freezing pudding of any type can be tricky because the dessert has high water content. Since freezing causes moisture to crystallize, the consistency of the banana pudding will become radically different after it’s been defrosted.

On top of that, bananas tend to turn to mush and develop an unsightly brownish color once they’ve been defrosted and exposed to air. These changes may not alter the taste of the pudding but they can make the pudding look unappealing.

It’s also worth noting that pudding contains temperature sensitive ingredients such as cream, milk, and eggs. Pudding made from soy or almond milk may turn watery after thawing.

So is refrigeration better than freezing? Keeping the pudding in the fridge won’t help matters either. The longer you keep the pudding in the fridge, the more it loses its flavor. Worse, banana pudding tends to absorb all the fridge aromas, which will definitely alter the flavor of the dessert! Between freezing and chilling the pudding, freezing is your best bet.

Easy Banana Pudding Recipes

Paula Deen’s Banana Pudding

Classic Banana Pudding

How to Freeze Banana Pudding?

There is a secret to extending the light color of the bananas and prevent oxidation. But this trick will only work if you made the banana pudding yourself!

Freezing Homemade Banana Pudding

Before preparing the banana pudding, fill a small dish with lemon juice. Dip the banana slices into the juice just before assembling the ingredients to make the pudding. The citric acids in lemon juice will prevent oxidation. After dipping the banana slices in lemon juice, you can go ahead and mash the fruit for the pudding.

Once the pudding has been frozen and defrosted, the bananas should retain its natural light color instead of turning a muddy brown.

Prepare the banana pudding as you normally would. If you are planning to freeze a portion of the pudding, save that portion before serving, don’t serve the whole thing. The fresher the pudding is, the better it is for freezing.

Once the pudding is ready for freezing, scoop the portion into an airtight, freezer-safe container. Then, cover the container with cling wrap before securing the lid. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

Image used under Creative Commons from Jason Lam

Freezing Store-Bought Banana Pudding Leftovers

Storing leftover banana pudding is much trickier because you cannot prep the ingredients beforehand. Every component has been assembled into the dessert. You cannot use the pudding’s original packaging either. The original packaging doesn’t provide ample protection from the freezing temps.

To prep the pudding, scoop it gently into an airtight, freezer-safe container. Then, cover the container with cling wrap before securing the lid. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

3 Creative Uses for Leftover Banana Pudding

Got more leftover banana pudding than you can handle? Apart from serving the dessert as is, you can use your leftover banana pudding to make these goodies:

Make Banana Pudding Ice Pops

You can upcycle your defrosted banana pudding by turning it into banana pudding ice pops! Just mix the leftover pudding in milk until smooth. Pour the mixture into an ice pop mold. Give the mold a gentle tap to remove air bubbles then insert the wooden sticks. Pop the mold in the freezer. Serve once the ice pops turn solid.

Churn into Ice Cream

If you love making ice cream at home then you can use whatever’s left of your banana pudding for the ice cream. With a plastic spatula, break the pudding apart into smaller bits. While churning the plain vanilla ice cream, pour the leftover pudding until blended well. Prepare the ice cream as you normally would and serve once frozen solid!

Make Bread Pudding

Create a milk mixture by combining milk with eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Pour the mixture into a lined container of leftover banana pudding. Fold the ingredients together until well blended. Top with cubed bread and let the bread bits soak the milk mixture. Add any topping you like then stick in the oven. Bake at 325º Fahrenheit or until golden brown then serve immediately.

Shelf Life and Thawing Suggestions

Banana pudding won’t keep in the freezer for a long time because of the delicate ingredients. We recommend consuming the pudding within 1 to 2 weeks for optimal flavor.

Thawing the pudding should be done slowly so the dessert won’t turn to mush. Just transfer the frozen banana pudding in the fridge and leave it to thaw overnight. Serve immediately once thawed and do not refreeze the leftovers.

Summary

Can you freeze banana pudding? Freezing might not be the best way to store this dessert but it can be done to avoid waste. Just make sure to prep the banana slices prior to mashing to preserve the fruit’s color. Also, keep all the storage tips we’ve outlined above for best results.

Bread & Baked Goods

Can You Freeze Hamburger Buns?

Can you freeze hamburger buns? Whether made lovingly at home or store-bought, hamburger buns freeze beautifully. That’s quite a relief knowing that these buns are sold in large packs! Leftovers are inevitable. Do note that freezing any type of bread can turn dicey pretty quickly when done the wrong way.

You see, bread is prone to mold growth and moisture loss. Once the hamburger buns are frozen and thawed, the likelihood of mold growth is quite high. This goes especially if the buns were left sitting at room temperature for more than 4 hours.

Moisture loss is also an issue when freezing hamburger buns because of the freezing temperature. Once the buns lost their moistness, they become tough, chewy, and unpalatable. The best hamburger buns to freeze are the freshest ones. Stale hamburger buns tend to taste off once they’ve been frozen and defrosted.

How to Freeze Hamburger Buns?

Freezing Leftover Hamburger Buns

It’s never a good idea to use the buns’ original packaging for freezing if the pack has been opened. The packaging will not provide enough protection from the freezing temperature.

To start, prepare several squares of aluminum foil. Make sure each square is large enough to wrap the bun fully. Wrap all the hamburger buns in aluminum foil, making sure there are no exposed parts. Place all the wrapped hamburger buns in a large resealable plastic bag. Give the plastic bag a good squeeze to remove as much air as possible before sealing. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer. You can also use cling wrap if you don’t have aluminum foil.

Image used under Creative Commons from Andres Rodriguez

Freezing Unopened Packs of Hamburger Buns

If say, you have several unopened packs of hamburger buns that are nearing their expiry dates; you can store them in the freezer. No need to wrap the buns individually in aluminum foil, just place the unopened packs of hamburger buns in a large resealable plastic bag. Give the plastic bag a good squeeze to remove as much air as possible before sealing. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

Creative Ways of Using Leftover Hamburger Buns

Trouble using up your leftover hamburger buns? It’s so easy to incorporate the buns in various recipes!

Bread Pudding

One of the best ways to use any type of leftover bread is to make bread pudding. This fabulous dessert can be enjoyed any time of the day. It’s easy to make too! Just replace your regular bread with leftover hamburger bread buns then prep the ingredients according to the recipe.

Paninis

Want a quick and light breakfast or snack? Instead of using whole grain bread or sourdough for making paninis, use your leftover hamburger buns. The end result is just as delicious. Fill each bun with your favorite fillings (cheese, salami, pepperoni, etc.), grill the buns and you have a delicious snack within minutes.

French Toast

Who says you have to use sliced bread for French toast? Since the recipe calls for thick-sliced bread, leftover hamburger buns make a fabulous alternative to sliced bread. To make this delectable dessert breakfast, dip the hamburger buns in a mixture of eggs, half-and-half, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pop the buns in the oven or cook on the stove and voila, breakfast is served!

Chocolate and Bread Parfaits

Wow your family with a delectable chocolate and bread parfait! Try this recipe and use leftover hamburger buns instead of sliced bread to give every meal a sweet finish!

Gazpacho

Old bread makes the perfect thickener. Hamburger buns can be used up to make a delectable batch of white Gazpacho. This recipe takes only 20 minutes to put together. Just swap the whole-grain bread with hamburger buns.

Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Verch

Shelf Life, Thawing, and Reheating Suggestions

When kept in the freezer, hamburger buns remain usable for at least 3 to 6 months. But don’t wait for months before consuming your supply, use up the buns immediately for optimal flavor and texture.

To defrost the hamburger buns, simply leave them to thaw on the kitchen counter. Thawing the frozen hamburger buns in the fridge increases the risk of mold growth. By leaving them on the counter, the buns will thaw much more quickly and they’ll absorb the moisture, softening the buns right up.

After thawing, you can reheat the buns in many ways. You can warm them up in the oven. Just preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and lay the buns in a parchment-lined baking sheet. Rub an ice cube or dab a little water over the buns then reheat for 5 minutes or until soft and golden.

You can also warm the hamburger buns in the microwave for 20 seconds on high. Place the hamburger buns in a microwave-safe plate, dab a little water over the buns then stick in the microwave until soft and warm. You can also try laying a dampened paper towel over the buns before microwaving to keep the buns nice and moist.

Finally, you can also toast the defrosted bun in a toaster oven. Cut the buns in the middle (if they’re not pre-cut already) using a sharp knife, lay a couple on the toaster pan, pop the pan in the toaster then reheat until warm and slightly browned.

Summary

Can you freeze hamburger buns? Freezing may be an unconventional way of extending the shelf life of bread but it works beautifully with hamburger buns. Try it the next time you have more hamburger buns than you can handle. But don’t forget to keep our storage tips in mind for optimal flavor.

Bread & Baked Goods

Can You Freeze Hot Dog Buns?

Since hot dog buns come in packs of 8 to 12, leftover buns are always inevitable. So how do you preserve the leftovers? Can you freeze hot dog buns?

You might think that freezing hot dog buns is an odd way of preserving these products but surprise: hot dog buns freeze so well! In fact, hot dog buns will fare better if you freeze them rather than keep them chilled in the fridge. The fridge has a high moisture level, which may encourage mold growth. As you know, mold growth is a no-no when storing bread and other baked goods. Below is a step by step guide on how to freeze hot dog buns:

How to Freeze Hot Dog Buns?

Freezing Leftover Buns

Never use the hot dog buns’ original packaging alone because it doesn’t provide enough protection from the freezing temps.

To start, prepare several squares of aluminum foil. Make sure each square is large enough to wrap the bun fully. Wrap all the hot dog buns in aluminum foil, making sure there are no exposed spots.

Place all the wrapped hot dog buns in a large resealable plastic bag. Give the plastic bag a good squeeze to remove as much air as possible before sealing. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

Image used under Creative Commons from TheCulinaryGeek

Freezing Unopened Packs of Hot Dog Buns

If say, you have several unopened packs of hot dog buns that are nearing their expiry dates; you can store them in the freezer. No need to wrap the buns individually in aluminum foil, just place the unopened packs of hot dog buns in a large resealable plastic bag. Give the plastic bag a good squeeze to remove as much air as possible before sealing. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

Shelf Life, Thawing, and Reheating Suggestions

When kept in the freezer, hot dog buns should keep up to 3 months. The buns could keep indefinitely if the temperature is kept at a steady 0 degree Fahrenheit. However, we recommend using up the buns right away for optimal flavor and texture.

To defrost the hot dog buns, it’s best to simply leave them to thaw on the kitchen counter. Thawing the frozen hot dog buns in the fridge increases the risk of mold growth. By leaving them on the counter, the buns will thaw much more quickly and they’ll absorb the moisture, softening the buns right up.

After thawing, you can reheat the buns in many ways. You can warm them up in the oven. Just preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and lay the buns in a parchment-lined baking sheet. Rub an ice cube or dab a little water over the buns then reheat for 5 minutes or until soft and golden.

You can also warm the hot dog buns in the microwave for 20 seconds on high. Place the hot dog buns in a microwave-safe plate, dab a little water over the buns then stick in the microwave until soft and warm.

Finally, you can also toast the defrosted bun in a toaster oven. Cut the buns in the middle (if they’re not pre-cut already) using a sharp knife, lay a couple on the toaster pan, pop the pan in the toaster then reheat until warm and slightly browned.

Image used under Creative Commons from jeffreyw

5 Clever Ways of Using Leftover Hot Dog Buns

Make Croutons

Give your favorite soups a richer, creamier taste by making your own croutons using leftover hot dog buns! Just cut the leftover buns into small squares, place the bread bits in a mixing bowl then add 1/4 cup of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the bread bits then bake in the oven at 375 degrees until golden brown.

Bread Crumbs

Bread crumbs are a kitchen staple because they have a lot of uses. You can use bread crumbs as breading for fried dishes, as topping to pasta dishes or to thicken soups and stews. You can make bread crumbs out of leftover hot dog buns by processing bits of the bread in the food processor. If the buns are a little moist, bake them first in the oven at  350 degrees for 10 minutes before processing.

Salad Topping

You can use bits of leftover hot dog buns as salad toppings. The leftover hot dog buns will give the salad a delightful crunch. Just break the hot dog buns into small pieces then bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown. Sprinkle a handful on a bowl of salad, toss then serve!

Garlic Bread

Who doesn’t love garlic bread? Perfect as a healthy snack and best paired with pasta dishes, garlic bread can be made using leftover hot dog buns.

Combine melted butter with a little olive oil and chopped fresh garlic or garlic powder. Brush the mixture on the buns then sprinkle a little thyme and rosemary. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until the buns are lightly toasted. Serve and enjoy!

Pizza Buns

This is a great recipe to try if the kids are picky eaters. Turn your leftover hot dog buns into mini pizzas. Spread a little tomato paste in the middle of a cut bun. Add your favorite pizza toppings such as pepperoni, mushrooms, bacon, sausages, etc. Season with salt and pepper then top with grated cheese.

Stick in the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees until the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese has melted. Serve immediately.

Summary

Can you freeze hot dog buns? As you can see, freezing, thawing, and reheating leftover hot dog buns is so easy, anyone can do it. Of course, be sure to keep our step by step guide in mind and don’t miss any steps when freezing the hot dog buns. This way, your leftover buns will always come out perfect even after they’ve been frozen and reheated.