I’ve been thinking about how to store things in the freezer in convenient portion sizes. We keep using up our freezer-safe jars and most of our useful-sized plastic containers for stocks and soups. I know I can freeze things in our silicone muffin tins, which is what I have been doing for rice porridge, but they don’t produce the most useful shape for storing in the freezer when space is getting tight. So I have been thinking and googling. I am pleased to report that I have found some useful things, which I am not getting paid to promote, but that’s not the point. I will be referring to Glad SnapLock bags, which are generally what we use to store food in the freezer. They can be purchased from most supermarkets. It’s just a pity they don’t sell them in bulk quantities. We have found they are stronger than cheaper plastic bags that get broken seals with repeated opening or compostable bags that don’t seal properly. They also have a handy white space for writing on the contents. Here are the sizes I’ll be referring to below:
I found these silicone mini loaf trays at The Warehouse for $8 each. They also have ones that look the same at Kmart for $6 each. I wasn’t sure what the volume was like so I only ordered one to start with a few other things I was purchasing online. Upon opening the box I discovered they had given us three trays. And no, it wasn’t a baby-brain ordering mistake. I had to take them back to the store. First, I measured what would fit in my one: 1/2 cup with about 5mm left at the top, which is just perfect since you don’t want spillages. I like when things are in nicely measured portions. I decided I could actually do with all three trays so would pay for the extra two when I went back to the store.
When I took them back, the lady was quite astounded and appreciative that I had actually brought them in. Isn’t that just what people do? That’s how I was raised by my parents and taught by my heavenly Father. I hadn’t paid for those things so they didn’t belong to me until I’d done something to sort it out. The lady was so touched that she insisted on giving me some chocolate. I was floored when I had to name what brand and kind of chocolate I would like to be given and “Anything” would not suffice. “A big block”, she said. I wasn’t expecting to get something in return. But that was a sweet blessing to me, leaving the store with a block of Whittakers dark chocolate. You can’t go wrong giving a pregnant woman dark chocolate. Especially just before Easter.
I have used the mini loaf trays for a few things already:
Pork stock… (A Glad SnapLock sandwich bag fits six portions with two on the top level.)
Thai pumpkin soup… (A Glad SnapLock medium bag fits 8-10 portions.)
Mini pear loaves and mini cornbreads.
There are more things to try too. Other possibilities include brownie, energy bars and mini quiches. You could also freeze fruit juice and pumpkin puree in them. The possibilities are endless. The mini cornbreads were a huge help to grab when we were headed to the hospital. The silicone trays are quite floppy so it helps to slide a flat metal baking tray underneath them to transfer them to the fridge or freezer.
After some searching, I managed to find one suitable silicone tray that holds two 1 cup amounts. It came in a set along with a tray that has four 1/2 cup sections and both trays have a lid. You can get them from Dick Smith for $19.99 – Ovela Food Portioning Silicone Freezer Pod. So far, I have made potato and leek soup to freeze in these and I plan to make more soups. A sandwich size Glad bag nicely holds two frozen 1 cup portions on top of each other. I really like having the 1 cup size option so I hope to get another set. It’s helpful to have a number of these trays if you’re making big batches of soup.
Another kind of experimenting I did was trying out three different recipes for gluten-free, yeast-free buns, or, as many other countries call them, rolls. The great thing about these is that they’re a lot faster to make than regular buns because there’s no yeast rising time.
The first recipe was Gluten-Free Dinner Rolls (Vegan) by Rhian’s Recipes. The defining feature of these ones is that they use ground flaxseed. I think I used a little much flour in the ball rolling process, but otherwise these were very nice. They had more of a wholemeal type flavour. We made little burgers with them one night and they were very tasty.
The second recipe was Yeast Free Gluten Free Dinner Rolls by Gluten Free on a Shoestring. This one has two ingredients I don’t usually have on hand – Greek yoghurt, which I substituted for coconut yoghurt, and sparkling water. Unfortunately, this one suffered from user error. I suddenly discovered that the baking powder I had bought and already used was not gluten-free. I was so distracted and annoyed by this that I accidentally put too much of the next ingredient, baking soda, into the mixture. I only realised this mishap at tasting time. This was NOT helpful in assessing the goodness of the bun recipe. Nobody wants a baking soda bun. But they looked and felt good in any case.
The third recipe I tried was Gluten Free Yeast Free Dinner Rolls Recipe by gfJules. This one also uses sparkling water and the interesting addition of puréed squash or pumpkin. Unfortunately, these also suffered from user malfunction. Do you see a recurring theme starting to emerge? The recipe said to add the baking powder and baking soda with the sparkling water to the well in the middle of the rest of the dry ingredients. When you do this, you better make sure the powders all get mixed in very thoroughly, otherwise you get little lumps of baking powder/baking soda throughout the buns. And guess what? They taste like baking soda.
So, this wasn’t exactly a fair trial, seeing as the last two kinds of buns tasted like baking soda. I am going to try the squash one again since we have plenty of squash or pumpkin on hand and still have some sparkling water. But still, I am inclined to prefer the first bun recipe in any case. It tasted more wholesome and flavourful and used ingredients that we always have on hand. All of the buns froze well and it is helpful having them there so I can easily defrost one when I need something to fill me up. They are all a small dinner roll size, but I would like to make some bigger ones to use for burgers, etc. as well. Here’s to more successful bun-making in the future…