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Need Ideas please?

 
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I've been freezing herbs in 1-1.25C "pucks" and storing them in 1.5 pint freezer Ball jars. Works. You can store 3 per jar. The problem is dividing them. I've been making dividers of parchment or the sides of milk bottles, cut into circles. It's a PITA to make the dividers and a PITA to use too. So, I'm looking for ideas for 1C containers which will fit inside other containers in the freezer. Yes, I could buy something, but I'd rather recycle something. There's no water in these, just plant matter and seasoning, ice cubes aren't an option. I have thought about using small mouth ball jar lids. But there's a ball jar lid shortage, did you know? And I've purged all my extras long since... It really needs to be bigger than a small mouth Ball jar lid and smaller than a big one.

So... ideas?

If you want a pic to show what I'm doing, I can do that, but not now. I'm on my way out the door!

TIA -

J
 
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Why do you need dividers?  Once they're frozen into pucks, do they freeze back together into a big glob or might they stay apart forever as long as they stay frozen?
 
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So, fresh herbs with spices and no water...no oil either?

Seems like it would be possible to pack loosely in the jar and remove as needed while frozen with a spoon or fork?

I'm curious what makes them freeze into a solid block or 'puck'...just the moisture in the herb itself?

I froze some chopped fresh basil with oilive oil and it refused to become solid, it stayed in loose bits even while frozen.

 
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I am not sure what you are looking for. If it is a simple divider that fits inside a jar, why not cut some "lids" from cardboard or plastic?  If you are looking for smaller containers, consider using the plastic bottles prescription medications come in.  In smaller amounts my pharmacy will give me those things.
 
pollinator
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If you're not adding anything I would try freezing them loose then pour into the jars and just spoon out what you need when you need it. I also freeze things in puck shapes and yes they do stick together again after a while in the freezer, I generally end up throwing them at the floor in their bag to seperate them. not such a good idea in a glass jar!
 
Jennie Little
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The herbs form a sort of "foam" when frozen. They're sized the way they are for recipes, otherwise I wouldn't bother. I don't use cardboard, etc. because I haven't wrapped the food, don't want whatever is on the paper in my food, right? Although I could wrap the paper in plastic -- hadn't thought of that. Scooping out the right amount, even with the plastic disks is awkward at best/difficult at worst.

The idea is that I can decide to do a savory, Italian, or Mexican dish, with "fresh" herbs, on a whim. I make use of all the organic, fresh herbs I have and use them at their best. I used a savory disk to flavor a small meatloaf last night, for example. If I want to do marinara, it's one package of generic tomatoes, onion, celery or bell pepper + 1 Italian disk. Chili? Same thing, except use Mexican herbs. It's my form of convenience food. Want to make flavored meat balls to go along? Add one repack ground beef or chicken. The entire thing is set up to make 1 or 2 meal's worth for us, use what we get to its best advantage and give me the most flexibility.

There's only 2 of us. I tend to buy in bulk. i repack chicken thighs, ground beef, and make up batches of "generic" tomatoes: tomatoes, onion, celery or bell pepper. The meats, tomato mixture and herb disks are all sized to work for us for 1 batch of food, 1 or 2 meals.

 
pollinator
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How well do the "pucks" hold together? Can you just freeze tightly packed handfuls on a cookie sheet, then once they are frozen solid throw them together in a larger container?
 
pollinator
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Jennie Little wrote:

The idea is that I can decide to do a savory, Italian, or Mexican dish, with "fresh" herbs, on a whim. I make use of all the organic, fresh herbs I have and use them at their best. I used a savory disk to flavor a small meatloaf last night, for example. If I want to do marinara, it's one package of generic tomatoes, onion, celery or bell pepper + 1 Italian disk. Chili? Same thing, except use Mexican herbs.





Genius!
 
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I'll be honest I don't totally understand what you are going for.  I've found mini-cupcake tins to be very useful for freezing things. I've found tons of them at thrift shops.  The steel ones I use to make molten aluminum ingots.  The nonstick or aluminum ones I use to freeze chicken stock, make seed balls,  freeze pesto, etc.  You end up with about one generous tablespoon of your ingredient.  I usually freeze them in the mini-tins then drop those into some other container once frozen.
 
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I too am not fully understanding the concept.

From what I feel you are describing, would unbleached paper, parchment or silicon muffin tin liners work?  Or even unbleached coffee filters?

I understand your wish to reuse or recycle so what made me think of these is that I used to get tins of cookies at Christmas.  I always saved the paper liners that divided the different cookies to use when making muffins.
 
Jennie Little
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What I am after is a way to easily get just one portion of the herb mixture out of the jar. What I have done (parchment circles or plastic circles) works, but the stuff needs to be dug out with a spoon.

From the suggestions above, these might work:

cupcake liners, silicon might be best, then I could wash them and reuse them.

Freezing the disks on a cookie sheet and then saving them in larger containers, like I do with salsa cubes.

Can I say, again, that I love this community? I knew if I posted the question here that someone or several folks would have workable ideas, which is what happened!  

I really like the way I'm storing the disks right now, because it's a smaller footprint in the freezer. That said, I can get more per box in a larger footprint container after I freeze them. And, I can acquire silicon cupcake liners at my leisure/budget or used, as I can. I think I need some PVC pipe or a cardboard tube the right diameter. Then, put in a silicone liner, freeze. Remove disk and store in a larger container.

These ideas solve all my issues, except the larger footprint of the container. Right now, the disks are in 1.5 pint mason jars in the door of the freezer...  If I had enough silicon cupcake liners, I could still store them that way.

THANKS Guys!
 
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I have a question: you use a whole cup of herbs for a single meal for two people? Wow, that's a lot more than I would use.

I've seen a suggestion to grate ginger and freeze it in a log shape, about an inch in diameter. That is supposedly thin enough to allow you to break off as much as you need. Could that work for you? But if you need to use a whole cup in each meal, then no, I don't think it would, but now I'm thinking it might work for me for some things.

Or another idea, is after you freeze the pucks separately, could you dip botheth wide sides in oil before stacking them for storage? Would that make them possible to separate later? Hmm... nah, probably not.
 
Jennie Little
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For the savory, 1 use 3/4 cup parsley, 1/4 cup bell pepper or celery and onion. Add salt, pepper, etc. the disks end up being 1 cup.

One thing that I hadn't said? I don't own muffin tins. I got rid of them, the small loaf pans, and the pie plates, because I just didn't use them. I've made muffins once since with an alum. foil pan, but that's it in about 6 - -8 months. Otherwise, I've not missed them. I've wanted a pie plate once; used a loaf pan, worked fine.
 
Skandi Rogers
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I feel the base problem here is the jar. could you take your frozen discs and just tightly wrap them in grease proof paper? like a oversized Christmas cracker?`they would last fine for a few months with just that wrapping so long as you do not have a frost free freezer.

Expanding on that idea, how about wrapping the discs into a tube of paper/plastic whatever and then sliding that into the jar, when you want them you pull the whole tube out of the jar remove the one you want and slide the rest back in.

Another idea, stack your pucks ready for the jar then make a hole in the middle of them all and put a piece of string through it, tie it to a disk of card/silicon/old yogurt pot lid then put them all into the jar with the lid on the bottom, when you want some pull on the string they will all get pulled up and you can take the top one off without having to fish around inside the jar.
 
Jennie Little
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Skandi’s post suggested something else to me, yogurt lids, cut down, probably easier than cutting down the sides of 1/2 gallon milk containers. And here they go in the landfill...
 
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I freeze things in large peanut butter jars with a large opening.
i store these in the chest freezer except for ones in current use.
You could use small snack size zip bags as dividers. They should be reusable with most herbs and spices.
I am able to keep most of my herbs alive through or mild winters except stevia and it is better dried anyway.
 
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Jennie Little wrote:Skandi’s post suggested something else to me, yogurt lids, cut down, probably easier than cutting down the sides of 1/2 gallon milk containers. And here they go in the landfill...

Hubby had a "hamburger patty press" with plastic discs that you put between the burger to keep them apart. The only way to get them apart while still frozen, was if I put 2 discs between each layer. That allowed me to get a bread and butter knife (don't use a sharp knife as it may slice the disc or your fingers if it slips) between the two discs and twist slightly to pop them apart.

So basically, it's the same idea, but I find it more effective if they're in pairs.
 
Judith Browning
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I wonder if each disc were wrapped in a square of dry cloth they would be easy to separate and remove from the jar?
...trying to think of an alternative to plastic and small squares of cloth would be washable and replaceable.

It seems like as long as the cloth was dry when the frozen disc was wrapped that they wouldn't freeze together and could use a nice clean muslin square or any recycled natural fiber cloth.

At first I was wondering about beeswax saturated cloth but I think just cloth might work?



 
Jay Angler
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Judith Browning wrote:I wonder if each disc were wrapped in a square of dry cloth they would be easy to separate and remove from the jar?
...trying to think of an alternative to plastic and small squares of cloth would be washable and replaceable.

It seems like as long as the cloth was dry when the frozen disc was wrapped that they wouldn't freeze together and could use a nice clean muslin square or any recycled natural fiber cloth.

At first I was wondering about beeswax saturated cloth but I think just cloth might work?

Yes, it would be really nice to find an alternative to plastic that won't stick together. I have tried similar things with two layers of waxed paper and had mixed results. Waxed fabric would have less tendency to rip. A thicker fabric, like a sturdy denim (which is often easy to scrounge used) might be worth experimenting with.

Before Jennie knows it we'll be having her do multiple trials of different options and comparing the results for us!  
 
Jennie Little
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Experiment and report 'eh? I must might!

What I've done up till now is measure 3/4C of my primary herb in my 1C (marked) measuring cup. Add 1/4C mixed onion and secondary herb. Will make a mounded 1C measure. Sprinkle with other seasoning, as appropriate (salt/pepper, cumin, oregano...) . Put through a canning funnel into the 1.5 pint wide mouth jar. Tamp down flat with a coffee tamper. We already owned all of these pieces. Add plastic disk, parchment circles, etc.


I had, because of this discussion, thought about possibly buying a hamburger press. They sell papers for commercial kitchens to separate burgers, but that's insane. There are plastic separators for sale too.

I don't know if the hamburger maker gadget makes sense, likely NOT. I hate single-use tools. We have burgers oh, maybe 6 times a year? Don't know if I want to store something that will be used in the fall for a month and maybe 6 other times during the year, at most. Probably NOT. Forming 2 burgers from 1/2 lb of meat 6x a year is not a hardship. If I had a family of 6, teenagers, etc. it would be entirely different. I don't. But they do sell the separators for those burger makers. I suppose I keep that idea in mind, as a last resort. Actually, what i'm doing works, just not well.

I need to measure a wide mouth jar and determine how big it is, exactly, so I can go look at the indy hardware store on the way home today.

Re waxed fabric? I have fabric I could use, but all the beeswax I have is not food grade. I use it on wooden floors and furniture. Paraffin is out; I'm allergic or sensitive to almost all petro. chemicals these days!

 
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I would try just fabric, which seems like a brilliant idea if you use a heavy fabric that can take some stress if you have to haul on it to pull apart two frozen pucks. the odd bits of jeans that are left after you use the bottoms to make something large might be just right.
 
Jay Angler
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I realize this requires buying more stuff, but have you considered the 250ml wide mouth jars? One lot of mix per jar, thaw the whole thing and be done and they should stack in your freezer fairly well?

Around here they're called "fish canning jars" as people use them to can their own salmon. You identify being in New England, so they may be available second hand, although some things like that aren't any cheaper second hand as new.  Unless of course, you're like me, and people keep just giving me their old canning jars as they don't want to bother canning anymore. Find a neighborhood with older residents and offer to work a trade?
 
Jennie Little
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Putting the herbs in individual jars won't work, because I just don't have enough space in my freezer! I have a couple of those jars and if I have an extra herb disk, I'll use one. Otherwise, I tend to use the 1.5 pint jars. They hold 3 disks well, and even though I do not mix the types per jar, I still need to separate them -- and that's what prompted the question.

The last time I used them, I started trying to spoon the loose disk out of the jar. Used a large spoon. The herbs were lightly frozen together, but it was frozen, right? So dig the spoon in, lever it up and Whoooosh! there goes herbs across the kitchen.

That is what prompted the question. I really wanted to avoid confessing that the reason I'd asked this at all was that i ended up flinging herbs around my kitchen a few times before I figured out where to put the spoon so I could just lift out the food. Thankfully, my husband wasn't coming in the kitchen at the time... I was tempted to yell, "Food Fight!" except of course, it wasn't, unless you count me fighting myself.... :-(
 
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When I freeze things with wax/parchment paper between, I use 2 layers so the layers don’t stick together. Using square sheets in a round container would leave corners poking up that you could grab. But tbh I like the silicone muffin cup idea best.
 
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With all due respect, I'm not seeing the advantage to using a canning jar in the freezer.  Why not use them for canning, and scrounge or salvage commercial jars to use in the freezer?  If you're concerned about the air-tightness or seal, line your jar with a used plastic bread bag cut to size, place your product in the bag and close it with a twist tie before closing the lid.  If you have zip-lock type bags where the zipper has failed but the bag is intact, just cut the zipper off and the bag will work admirably for this purpose.  You can also slip a note into the jar labeled with the content and date.  This technique will also protect your product should power go off:  Your label stays dry, and the interior bags will not be contaminated from the drips that inevitably happen when other items thaw.

As far as keeping your pucks separated so they don't glom onto each other:  Next time you have a box of crackers or cereal, harvest the bag they come in.  Tear it open along the seams into a flat sheet, and cut it into whatever size or shape you need to "file" in between each item.  When I do buy bread, I use these sheets to separate the slices before freezing.  I use this material instead of wax paper between layers if I'm freezing a batch of cookies, or even just putting them on my porch to soften now that the weather is cooler.  The material is food-safe and lasts forever; another good reason to keep it out of the landfill by giving it service in your home.
 
Jennie Little
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Recycled materials work, but not all that well. I do use plastic disks cut from milk bottles. Re the storage jars, I already have the 1.5 pint freezer/ball jars and they fit in the door of my freezer so I use them. The plastic cut from milk bottles works but it’s a pain to make them and I have the same problem I started with, that is it’s difficult to get the disks out.
 
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