That piece of fossilised cheddar must have been in the fridge three weeks, if not four. Into the bin it goes, along with the remains of Sunday’s chicken casserole, the yoghurt without a lid that’s starting to go green, a limp lettuce and a bag of wobbly carrots. It’s a waste but it could be worse.
Christmas week is always a lot worse, and I’m not the only culprit. Each year in the UK we throw out the equivalent of 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings and 74 million mince pies. Research by Populus has found that nearly three quarters of us don’t manage to get through all our Christmas food. Party fare is the biggest source of waste, closely followed by gravy, sprouts and turkey.
That’s why Hubbub, a new charity that’s getting mainstream consumers to embrace sustainability, is launching the Festive Freeze campaign. The basic idea is that we should freeze our surplus food and reduce the amount that ends up in the bin.
Festive Freeze aims to persuade us to change our habits by busting freezer myths, providing freezing and refreezing guidelines, and inspiring us with exciting recipes from celebrity chefs to help us make the most of what’s in the freezer.
Keep it up all year round, and we could all be a lot better off. Freezing left over food could save the average family £250 and cut household food waste by half. Not to mention the environmental benefits.
1. Myth: Frozen foods are less nutritious
Not true. Frozen fruit and veg tend to be picked and frozen at the time of their peak nutritional levels. These levels do inevitably decrease over many months, but overall frozen food gives fresh produce a run for its money.
2. Myth: Freezers are expensive to run
Well, not as expensive as fridges! Together they contribute 11% of your yearly electricity consumption, with 7% of that taken up by the fridge. Running costs depend upon how full the freezer is kept, its location, energy efficiency, frost levels and how often the door is opened. The difference in yearly running costs between an A++ grade freezer and a C grade freezer is around £200.
3. Myth: Freezing food reduces its quality
Not if you do it right. Air coupled with moisture is the enemy of frozen food; ice crystals are the tale-telling sign of freezer burn. Extracting air from packs, using sealed containers and reducing exposed surface areas will see your goods through their hibernation.
4. Myth: There are lots of things you can’t freeze
Most things are easily frozen, bar strong liquor. There are a few others to avoid: fine vegetables practically disintegrate, whilst frozen creams are prone to curdle whilst thawing. Canned foods, fizzy drinks and eggs in their shells tend to explode and coffee absorbs freezer smells. As for the rest? Full freeze ahead!
5. Myth: You can’t refreeze frozen food
Refreezing food isn’t dangerous. The danger is that food can spoil before it’s refrozen. Freezing food does not kill bacteria, it just ‘freezes’ their action. So once thawed, bacteria continue to multiply at the same rate they were multiplying before being frozen.
For more information visit the Hubbub website https://www.hubbub.org.uk/freezer-top-tips