As you know, at Zips It Up, we like to bring you a bit of lifestyle as well as fashion, but I bet you didn’t expect to be reading about freezers?
Frozen food’s been out of fashion since the 1970s. But thanks to a boom in fancy frozen food, the Freezer is 2019’s coolest trend.
Yes, freezer used to be the least glamorous of the white goods family. Shunned for hot excitement of an Agar, or ignored in favour of a fancy coffee maker or a stylish and healthy Nutribullet.
The poor old chilly domestic workhorse’s image was downgraded in public perception with one cheery catchphrase, ‘Mum’s gone to Iceland!’ From that day onwards I steered clear of my local Iceland, never to return.
At home, our freezer is simply somewhere to house frozen petits pois, ice packs and ice cubes. Maybe some vanilla ice cream if we aren’t watching waistlines.
Until now. Yes, freezers are having their moment. As life gets busier and busier, frozen food grows in popularity. The latest figures show that the frozen food market in the UK in 2018 was worth a hefty £6.2 billion, a 4.8 per cent increase on the previous year and, according to the British Frozen Food Federation, it is the fastest-growing retail category.
Frozen food is no longer seen as second best. As something for emergencies or a poor alternative to a take-away. We increasingly appreciate its benefits: it’s often cheaper, especially for soft fruits, and fruit and veg sometimes retains more of its nutritional power, compared to fresh stuff that may have been sitting around on the supermarket shelf for a bit.
Personally, I love the frozen smoothie mixes that mean, in a matter of seconds, I can throw together something relatively healthy first thing in the morning. Also, frozen chopped onions, mushrooms and spinach, because who has a pan large enough to cook fresh spinach?
And as we become more conscious of cutting down on waste, our freezers are a potent weapon. WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) reports that we throw away up to a quarter of the food we buy, with each UK household tossing away the equivalent of eight meals a week. At the very least, the freezer is the waiting room for the bin. Sometimes things stay in the fridge for a few days and I don’t really fancy them so I demote them to the freezer.
Picard, the French frozen food company, known by some as Waitrose on Ice, is now available via Ocado. It’s a festival of gougères, mini croque monsieurs, garlic snails and Breton oysters with apple vinaigrette, as well as all manner of gratins and confits, fondants and tatins. Plus, tiny pearl onions, artichoke bottoms and chopped tomatoes, all ready to chuck into stews without any fiddly peeling and prepping.
Then, of course, there is Waitrose, the mothership of middle-class convenience. Its Cooks’ Ingredients frozen range is like having your own kitchen porter to do all of the boring stuff.
Then there’s Cook — the shops, and also online. It specialises in ‘homemade’ frozen food good enough to fool your domestic goddess devotee friends.
Cook sells lots of homely pies, bakes and casseroles, and party dishes for eight, such as fish pie and lasagnes, which you can buy in rustic ceramic dishes if you’re really desperate to pass them off as your own.
Even Iceland these days isn’t what it was. Have a look at their scallops, lobster tails and tempura prawns…
And in these uncertain political times, there is something enormously comforting in knowing that whatever happens, there will be a freezer full of gourmet fish pie, chicken gyozas and chocolate ice cream with blood orange sorbet to see us through Brexit.
Or at least exchange for firewood and fresh water, should the need arise.