HOW TO FREEZE: Chai Time with Shivi Ramoutar

Shivi’s recipes are as bright and vibrant as her – so it was a joy to catch up with her during one of my 11AM chats! She recently published The Ice kitchen, a brilliant book sharing the best tricks and tips on freezing, meal prepping and organising your freezer. Freezing food is not only a great way to make ingredients go further, but also to ensure that you always have fast, fresh food at your fingertips, making busy lives so much easier!

Here’s a few tips from my conversation with Shivi. Thank you for all your questions:


For a long time, people thought that having fresh food was nutritionally so much better than frozen food, when actually fruit and vegetables left in the fridge gradually lose their goodness. If you buy fresh food and then freeze it, the nutrients are kept within the food at that peak level, helping to keep food fresh for longer. You should think about the process of freezing as a ‘pause button’, the food will retain the nutrients that were there, at the time it was initially frozen. To prevent your food from forming ice crystals you need to make sure that you store them in an airtight container.

Vegetables: it’s also better to steam or blanch vegetables first before putting them in the freezer – it kills of the enzymes that cause food to deteriorate, helping your vegetables to maintain nutrients and their vibrant colours. You tend to blanch food for about 2 minutes, before putting directly into cold water to shock it, you can then dry it and freeze it.

Nuts: you can freeze nuts, but it depends on what you intend on using the nuts for. If you defrost the nuts and don’t use them for cooking straight away, you may find that they are a little softer.

Bananas: freezing bananas is great if they are blackening and you want to save them to make banana bread you can just pop them in the freezer. You can also remove the skin and slice them up, so they are ready to put in your smoothie.

Butters: whenever you have a bit of paste left over in a jar, perhaps chipotle or jerk paste, just add it to butter and salt. Then pop into ice cube trays followed by a resealable bag and freeze. You can the take these out when you are cooking and add to your dish for extra flavour.


What is the best way to defrost?

For veg, the best way to defrost is directly from frozen, either on the hob, in the oven or steam them. Just treat them as if they were fresh, if you wait for them to defrost, they can become quite mushy.

Microwaving can cause food to lose some of their nutrients, texture and flavour, but if you are in a rush it’s a quick fix. If you are trying to maintain the highest levels of nutrients try and use the oven or hob.


How to label you frozen food?

Using a washable pen, just write on your bag or container. Make sure to include what ingredients are in there as well as the date you have frozen it. You can also buy freezer tape and write over it but take care not to smudge it.


What’s your favourite morning rituals during lockdown?

When I wake in the morning, I open my shutter, try to avoid going straight on my phone, and just take a moment to breathe and have some water.

In the evening, I try to think through the things I am grateful for and this really helps to put things into perspective.


What are you most looking forward to when everything returns back to normal?

I’d really like to go somewhere, have a change of scene, put my feet in hot sand and just swim in some fresh seawater