We love chipotles (smoked, dried jalapeńo chiles) packed in cans of adobo sauce (a vinegary tomato sauce flavored with garlic). But it can be hard to use up a whole can once you’ve opened it, because you usually only need a few chiles due to their heat. Rather than throwing the rest out, we like to freeze both the peppers and the sauce. Simply spoon out the chipotles, each with a couple of teaspoons of adobo sauce, onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper. Freeze the globs, then take them off the sheet, put them in a zipper-lock bag, and store them in the freezer. They keep indefinitely.
Once you’ve used up the juices from a lemon, don’t throw the shell away. Instead, freeze it in a zipper-lock bag, and when you need acidulated water to keep peeled apples, potatoes, or artichokes fresh, just take a spent shell from the freezer instead of wasting a whole new citrus. The shell has enough juice and acidity to keep the food from turning brown.
After a big weekend breakfast, there are usually a few uneaten pancakes or slices of French toast lying around. Don’t throw them out! Instead, layer parchment paper between the cooked French toast slices or pancakes, wrap them in plastic wrap, and store them in the freezer. To reheat them, unwrap them and put them on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, or just stick them in the toaster.
Soaking bamboo skewers before grilling helps keep the wood from burning before the food is cooked. But waiting for them to soak can take too long if you’re involved in an impromptu grilling session. Instead, think ahead: Soak a few ahead of time, and then freeze them in a zipper-lock bag so they won’t dry out. They’ll be ready the second you need them.
Similar to the skewer tip above, waiting for wood chips or chunks to soak can be a pain (at least 30 minutes or 1 hour, respectively) if you're eager to begin smoking food. The wood needs to soak in water before being added to the grill in order to maintain a slow smolder rather than a quick burn, which can impart an acrid taste to your meat. If you want to smoke food over wood without waiting, soak either chips or chunks ahead of time and then freeze them in a zipper-lock bag so that you can grill whenever the fancy strikes. When it does, just place the frozen chunks on the coals: They defrost quickly and impart as much flavor as freshly soaked chunks. Use frozen chips for gas grills: Place them inside a foil pouch with holes cut into it for ventilation.
Like these? See more quick tips at Cook's Illustrated.