The Fresh Loaf

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Tales from the Back of the Freezer: I Came, I Thawed, I Conquered

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GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Tales from the Back of the Freezer: I Came, I Thawed, I Conquered

If one prepares and freezes stocks and stews and sauces, and breads, it  is necessary to re-organize one's freezer frequently.  In my case, "frequently" means approximately annually.

I recently went on an expedition in my freezer, to determine whether there was a stash of frozen pesto there (there was not, so I have another project when I didn't need to have another project).  In the course of my expedition (picture pitons and ice axes), I realized that I was reorganizing my freezer.  Fine, it needed it.

In the process, I came to a useful realization: Bread that isn't very good frozen and then thawed (e.g., my cheese-onion-curry bread) just sits in the freezer, gathering age, with no real prospects for a happy future.  This is especially true of breads that don't make good croutons or bread crumbs or altus (the proper destiny of most mediocre loaves).  So, I've adopted a new rule: don't make more cheese-onion-curry bread than we can eat or give away within a day of baking.

Also, in the process of organizing my freezer, I found a forgotten treasure.  Way in the back, in the bottom, behind and/or beneath the 2010 baguette experiments (destined to be crumbs) and the 2010 Smoked Turkey Gumbo (destined to be dinner this week), I found one of the first pan loaves I ever baked.  Labeled "Honey Whole Wheat Bread September 2010", it appears from my blog that this bread was baked on September 28, 2010, approximately one month after I started baking bread.  I didn't really remember this bread, but I had bacon, lettuce and tomatoes on hand and I was not interested in a BLT on stale baguette.

So out came this frozen specimen, like a Mastedon from the Arctic ice.  Unlike a Mastedon from the Arctic ice, however, it thawed quickly and I sliced it up, toasted it up, mayoed it up and ate it with the above-mentioned B, L and T.   And here's what I found: (1) a well-packaged sandwich loaf keeps very nicely for 10 months in the freezer, (2) that honey-whole wheat formula (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/wholewheathoneybread) is pretty dang good and I should try it again, (3) forgetting things in the back of the freezer can be exciting (if you don't have a life), but doesn't really make for much of a blog post.

So, do any of you have a shorter memory than the freezer-shelf-life of your breads, so that you make exciting "discoveries" when you go on an expedition in your freezer?

Happy Thawing!

Glenn

Comments

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I wish Mike would remember to put that ground chuck that expired and was kept in the freezer till garbage day...in the garbage on garbage day 'lol'.

Sylvia

holds99's picture
holds99

Glenn,

Thanks for your post.  It's reassuring to know that there's someone out there with a similar challenge.  We have a large freezer in the garage where I store bread, yeast, coffee, spices and a lot of items that I cook, mostly in 16 oz clear plastic cups, covered tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil with a date and the name of the item contained in the cup inscribed on the foil cover using a marks-a-lot.  I've even placed cardboard boxes (liquor store boxes are perfect size) with sides cut to 8 inches, so they can be stacked two high on the freezer shelves in an effort to organize and optimize the space inside the freezer.  That drill works for about a month then things begin to get reshuffled and moved around as the frequent searches for "stuff" occurs.  Other than the garage freezer, the only place that has more unorganized "stuff" is our attic.

The whole wheat honey bread sounds good.  I'll give it a try in the near future.

Howard

 

lumos's picture
lumos

I have a small notebook in my kitchen drawer to keep record of what I have in my freezer because without it, my food inventory management would be nightmare due to my incurable forgetfulness. (See my other posts...) Everytime I freeze something (anything!), I write down the date, what it is, how much it is, etc. etc., and everytime I use something from the freezer I cross off the entry. At both times I browse the pages quickly to see if there's something I should use as early as possilbe or discard. ......Well, that's the theory, anyway.  In reality, I often forget to check my notebook to see if I have a stock of certain thing in a freezer already and buy a new one, or forget to cross off what I used and panic because I can't find it.  But still, the life is a bit easier with it than without.

Anyway.....Frozen breads.

Is it just me or  is there someone else here who thinks levain-rich campagne type bread can tastes better after it was frozen and thawed? I've never had an experience of excavating antique bread older than a few weeks old from the deepest corner of a freezer, but quite often I've noticed the taste of those kind of bread and sourdough bagels become more settled (rounder?), deeper and complex, though the aroma is never as good as before it's frozen. 

lumos

 

holds99's picture
holds99

Can't say for sure if it tastes better but it's certainly possible.  I almost always mix up 8.5 lbs of dough and bake either 2 large miche typle loaves (2.2 lbs each + or -) or four 2 (+ or -) pound boules.  So, I give a lot of bread away and freeze a lot of it, and I don't think freezing hurts it one bit.  IMO it tastes as good after it's thawed out and sliced as it did coming right off the cooling rack.

Howard

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Thanks for the entertaining post, Glenn!

I occasionally find artifacts in my freezer - most recently a challah that was not wrapped as well as it should have been. Alas, it was not wonderful. However, for artisanal boules, I almost prefer frozen. Reheating them for 15 minutes at 350 or so refreshes the crust in a most delightful way and yields a bread that is typically crunchier than my unfrozen high hydration loaves.

Thanks!

Jay

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Glenn,
I unearthed a chipotle sourdough from the freezer and it seemed to have a spicier taste, after freezing and thawing.
I noticed the same thing too, with a lavender-honey-walnut bread I made and froze last summer...the lavender taste was stronger after the loaf had been through a freeze.
I don't know why freezing intensified the flavoring in these loaves - but I certainly didn't mind.
:^) from breadsong

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

Please come visit. My right hand still isn't up to a lot of work and re-organizing a freezer requires 2 hands (and mittens). It sure would be fun to have a playmate, too. For some reason my husband doesn't think a trip through memory lane with the freezer is fun. I know we have pesto. You are most welcome to all of it.
See u soon, Pam

EvaB's picture
EvaB

my freezers (yes plural) suffer from stuff it and forget it syndrome. I have one I haven't opened in about three years, I know its working the room doesn't stink! But the stuff on top of the thing keeps me from getting into it, am trying to organize so I can but so far that has suffered malfunctions of its own. Every time I get a space I think I can move stuff to from a huge shelf that is total chaos, something else takes up the shelves I emptied! I think you get the picture, and yes I am weeding out stuff as I go, but things just keep happening to me! Whine!!!

But I will say that well wrapped bread is great, and seems to develop more taste in the freezing, not sure why, but we used to freeze plain old bread, (flour, yeast, a tiny bit of shortening (read bacon grease) and water) when my mother baked, and the frozen bread always tasted as good or better than the fresh stuff! She eventually found a recipe for one loaf to make with her food processor and stopped freezing bread, but I remember the taste of those loaves.