Keeping Dairy Products
Iced-up ice cream?
Next time you put an opened carton of ice cream back into the freezer, press a sheet of waxed paper on top of the ice cream to exclude air and prevent ice crystals from forming.
Cheese is choosy
Cheese needs protection from moisture and temperature extremes, so wrap it tightly in foil or greaseproof paper (not clingfilm) and store it in a cool place or in the fridge. The ideal temperature is about 10-12°C (50-54°F). Bring it up to room temperature for about an hour before serving.
Don’t leave leftover whipped cream in the fridge to go sour. Pipe it into rosettes on a baking tray lined with non-stick paper. Freeze the rosettes until firm, then lift them off the paper and store them frozen in a box. Use straight from the freezer for an instant dessert topping.
Small cubes of butter flavoured with fresh herbs or spices are a handy way to liven up food in seconds. Soften the butter – don’t melt it-mix in flavourings to taste, shape into small pats and freeze. Use thawed or frozen to top grilled steaks or chicken joints.
Testing an egg for freshness
Dissolve 15ml (1 tbsp) of salt in 570ml (1 pint) of water, and lower the egg into it. A fresh egg will lie on the bottom on its side and a stale egg will float to the top. If the egg turns upright but does not float to the top it is still safe to eat, though it’s not at its freshest.
• Store eggs, pointed end down, in a fridge or a cool place.
• Leave them in the box, since the porous shells quickly pick up tastes and smells from other foods.
• Buy eggs in small quantities and use them up within a week or two, when they’re at their freshest.
• Eggs usually work best in cooking if they’re at room temperature, so take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you need them.
Leftover egg white or yolk
Both whites and yolks will last for about three months if frozen. With whites, pour them into a small container and cover the surface with a circle of greaseproof paper. Yolks freeze better if you mix them with 2.5ml (1/2tsp) of salt or sugar for every three yolks (make sure to label them so that you know what you’ve added).
Bought yoghurt usually contains a stabilising ingredient and freezes well, but the homemade variety tends to separate on thawing. It’s worth experimenting, however. Homemade yoghurt with added fruit or honey often freezes more successfully than plain, and it makes a good low-fat alternative to ice cream.
A supply of fresh milk
If you find it hard to predict how much milk you’re going to use, buy several extra cartons to keep in the freezer. Thaw them out as you need them.