Welcome to Freezer Tours, where we get intimate with your icebox to unpack all the tasty, quirky, and sometimes straight-up kooky things that people keep below zero.
I am a writer and cheese educator based in Vermont. I love cooking and eating and am pretty spontaneous in doing both. When my boyfriend first saw my freezer, he was shocked at how much was in it.
He was also shocked that there were no ice cubes. He’s a big cocktail guy, and not having ice in your fridge is like a baker not having flour in their cupboard. Most of what I freeze has little to do with my work with cheese, but I’ve still got some, um, interesting things in there that might give you some ideas for how to stock your own freezer.
I like the idea of meal planning and prepping, but I ultimately don’t find either of those things compelling enough to actually do.
I like having flavor-driving staples in my freezer that I can build a meal around, and I’ll also keep a few premade things for emergencies—tamales, dumplings, things like that. When I cook, I generally cook way too much, so I end up freezing leftovers.
Give us your best cheese-related freezer tip.
You should freeze cheese only if you’re 100 percent sure you only want to cook with it. Freezing cheese compromises the texture and can dull the flavor. I ordered three containers of fromage blanc at the beginning of the pandemic when cheesemakers were panicked about whether they could survive while restaurants were shut down.
It’s been a year, and now it’s probably just fit for the trash, which is a REAL shame. I don’t know if I have the heart to throw out such good cheese.
What’s something in your freezer that’s just for you?
One pint of Pots of Gold & Rainbows ice cream from Salt & Straw. This is SO GOOD. We weren’t allowed to eat sugary cereal when I was growing up, so it or anything made with it feels like a huge treat. I LOVE Lucky Charms, and this ice cream is brilliant. If I met whoever came up with it, I would probably literally applaud them.
It’s a seasonal flavor, though, so I’m trying really hard to talk myself down from ordering a whole case of it before it disappears for another year.
What item isn’t being used for its intended purpose?
Two bags of frozen cranberries. I… really could not tell you why these are in here. I know I bought them, but I don’t remember what I intended to do with them. For now, I feed them to my dog, hidden under a healthy layer of peanut butter, when she’s peeing weird. They seem to help?
You would perhaps assume, in hearing about these cranberry bags, that I bought them to make into a cheese pairing condiment. Is it weird that the thought never once crossed my mind before writing this?
When I’m snacking on cheese at home, I like to keep things pretty simple and pretty savory — I’m either eating big hunks of cheese by themselves or paired with potato chips (which I strongly believe pair better with cheese than any cracker out there). That said, something like cranberry mostarda may be fun to try? Hm.
What item would look weird to outsiders raiding your freezer?
My stock stash. Currently, this includes carrot tops, giblets, some miscellaneous onion bits, and an embarrassing amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rinds.
It also will generally include a chicken carcass or two, but not at the moment. I found this incredible farmer near me who will deliver rotationally grazed organic steaks straight to my door, so I’ve been more on the beef train lately. Once the bag gets full, I turn this hodgepodge into delicious stock for cooking with.
Also, uh, when I say “Parm rinds,” I mean a lot of Parm rinds. We eat an embarrassing amount of Parm in my household. I throw at least three into every stock I make, meaning my stocks are bonkers flavorful. There are usually some other cheese rinds, too, especially Comté rinds.
Even if you don’t enjoy eating the rinds of harder cheeses (please eat your soft cheese rinds!), they pack a lot of flavor and shouldn’t be wasted. Just make sure to take off any wax or paper first.
What leftovers are you saving for later?
Gumbo. I love gumbo, but, like most of the foods I love making, it takes all day to make. I love those days of queueing up like six podcasts and hanging out in my kitchen for hours, but I don’t get as many of them as I’d like. So I always make enough to glut myself on that evening, with plenty left to freeze for later.
Not only did I freeze the gumbo I made a few months ago, but I also froze the leftover chocolate roux (the superflavorful long-cooked base for gumbo or étouffée) for next time.
What’s the best thing of all?
Vermont Creamery cultured butter. I am obsessed with biscuits for breakfast, and I know this is braggy, but my biscuits are very good. This is thanks to the genius of Carla Hall, whose recipe I mostly follow to a T. The only thing I do differently is sub in soft white whole-wheat flour that I grind on my little tabletop flour mill. It results in a nuttier, fluffier, more flavorful biscuit.
I use frozen butter for the recipe, so I always have some Vermont Creamery butter in the freezer. It’s incredible for baking or really anything else. It’s a bit more expensive than some other grocery store brands, but worth it. Butter may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of cheese, but cultured butter goes through the same fermentation process that cheese does, which gives it that tangier, fuller flavor.
Honestly, butter is my favorite cheese.
Christine Clark is a professional food and beverage nerd. She is a Certified Cheese Professional by the American Cheese Society, with bylines in Food52, Wine Enthusiast, VinePair, Epicurious, AllRecipes, and more. You can follow her on Instagram here or check out her website here.