Saturday, September 08, 2007

Be Prepared

Though I've long been in the habit of preserving fresh local food for later, the more I do to fill my pantry and freezer, the more I learn.

Here's one example: I've long known that I could keep herbs by chopping them, stuffing them into ice cube trays, filling them with water, freezing them, and then popping the cubes into a zippered freezer bag. I've also been in the habit for a number of years of using those same ice cube trays for freezing single-serving portions of pesto.

Seems logical, right? If you can freeze things in individual portions, it makes it easier to take one small lump of herb or pesto or sauce out of the freezer because then you don't have to thaw the whole thing and use it all up quickly.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that I could do the same thing with the various elements of the Indian sauces I love to make.

In making the makhani sauce recently, I needed to puree the onion, garlic, and hot pepper to make a smoother sauce, and it occurred to me then that I could puree this aromatic mirepoix in larger quantities and freeze it in small (1/4- to 1/2-cup) portions.

Since that worked so well the other week, I decided to make more today.

Coarsely chopping a red onion, several garlic cloves, and a couple of hot peppers from the Archivist, I tossed them all into my mini food processor and pureed them.

I lined my pottery ramekins with cupcake liners and then scooped in the puree. (Normally I don't like to use these liner papers, but for a project like this, it does make it much easier to keep portions separate.)

After a couple of hours, the portions were sufficiently frozen for me to pop them out of the ramekins, wrap them in a small piece of foil (for extra protection), and slide them into a big zippered freezer bag. Now I'll have to do is thaw one when I'm ready to make sauce!

As I worked, I thought I might as well do the same thing with the tomato-cilantro combination that gets used so much in Indian cooking. And since I have pints of tomatoes and tomato sauce that will get hauled out when I'm ready to cook, I decided to use the faithful old ice cube trays to make these portion-sized nuggets.

So easy... why didn't I think of this before?

Now I can be prepared for almost any curry emergency!



At 9/08/2007 6:48 PM, Blogger Nosher said...

Did you use raw tomatoes and cilantro? Did you blanch/peel the tomatoes first? I was planning on doing something with some of tomato harvest tonight....

At 9/09/2007 1:26 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

You know, I should have known that was too easy! No, I didn't blanch and peel the tomatoes. I'm thinking it will still be OK, since I'll only throw a couple of these cubes in with the tomatoes or sauce I've already canned. Guess I'll find out!

At 9/11/2007 1:43 PM, Anonymous jasmine said...

I love ice cube trays for things and will often freeze the extra coconut milk or what have you -- I should use it more to preserve the summer's bounty. I just got Pint-sized Ireland from the library and I am loving it. Thanks for the recomendation -- he is really funny and I keep feeling compeled to read passages outloud to my boyfriend.

At 9/11/2007 1:52 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Good thinking on the leftover coconut milk! I've been thinking I should reduce my vegetable stock and freeze it the same way... haven't yet. So many possibilities! Though I would like to find something a little larger than ice-cube-size... more like cupcake size... for things like squash. Guess I'll use my ramekins again.

Glad you're enjoying the book... I ripped through it in two days because it was so lively. And shortly after, I had to take meself out for a pint! :-)


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