Flavor bases like mirepoix are a vital foundation for good cooking. Starting with the right flavor base takes your recipe halfway to done.
Flavor bases like mirepoix are a vital foundation for good cooking. But all that chopping! Prep work is tedious and can’t be skipped. There’s not much you can do to speed the process — until now. You know how big restaurants run their prep? They buy it from a central prep kitchen. A lot of places have bags of freshly chopped vegetables delivered right to their kitchen. Some of them cheat even more by freezing it all for later.
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Which Is Why You Should Make Mirepoix in Bulk to Freeze
It doesn’t take too much longer to make twice as much mirepoix as you need. Dice four onions instead of two. Dice twice as much celery, and twice as many carrots. Then put half of it into a Ziploc bag and toss it into the freezer. Next time you need to cook a French dish, half of your work is already done.
But Wait, There’s More Mirepoix
Meal prepping is a major time saver for busy cooks. For anyone, really. But why not do some real prep when you’re doing meal prep? While you’re spending all day Sunday knocking out a week of recovery meals, why not prep a bunch of flavor bases? You already have the food processor out on the counter. You have the ingredients. It’ll take no time at all today. But the time you save in the future is priceless.
How to Prepare Bulk Mirepoix, Sofrito, and Other Bases to Freeze Ahead
I use a food processor with a dicing attachment that I have, perhaps, an unnatural affection for. I use Ziploc bags.
Prepare your prep station
- 10 to 12 large white onions, peeled and halved
- 10 medium carrots, peeled
- 10 celery stalks
- 5 leeks, white parts, cleaned thoroughly nal)
- 5 shallots, peeled (optio
For the Holy Trinity (Cajun Mirepoix):
- 10 to 12 white and purple onions, peeled and halved
- 8 to 10 bell peppers, cored and cut into large chunks
- 10 celery stalks
- 3 to 4 heads of garlic, separated and peeled
- 3 Poblano peppers, seeded and halved) (optional)
- 2 Jalapeno peppers, seeded (optional)
For Spanish Sofrito:
- 40 garlic cloves
- 32 medium onions
- 8 green peppers, seeded and halved
- 8 red peppers, seeded and halved
- 8 leeks, white and light green parts only, thoroughly cleaned
- (This is not the complete sofrito, these are the base ingredients to which you’ll add tomato paste when you cook.)
Make those flavor bases!
- If you are using a food processor (and please use a food processor), use the dicing attachment or dicing blade configuration. You can just use the blade and chop everything, but you risk pureeing the onions and the peppers, which will change the flavor. Pureed onions will make the base too oniony. If you are not using the food processor, then sharpen your knife and remember to use safe and proper knife skills.
- Dice the ingredients for the flavor base individually, then remove to large, separate mixing bowls.
- Open eight large Ziploc freezer bags by folding the opening over, date them for six months from today.
- Fill another large bowl or a clean sink with at least 8 inches of water.
- Snap a rubber band around the 1 cup mark on a glass measuring cup.
- Fill the measuring cup with two cups of onions, add them to a bag.
- Fill the measuring cup to the rubber band (1 cup) with celery, then with peppers; add each to the bag with the onions.
- Flatten the bag on your counter, pressing out air, then close partially.
- Lower the flattened bag into the water all the way to the zipper of the Ziploc bag, using the water pressure to vacuum seal. (If you have a vacuum sealer, why didn’t you say so when we started? Use that!)
- Continue from step 6 until all the ingredients are bagged.
- Stack the bags on the counter with a paper towel between them, flatten again if necessary.
- Freeze flat overnight (use a cookie sheet or other flat surface if you have space).
- Re-organize to store them vertically in your freezer to save space.
How to Use Your Frozen Mirepoix
Slip a bag out of the freezer and pour the frozen ingredients into your pan, as you would any other time. You may have to sauté a minute or two longer to get them golden brown, or how you like them. For sofrito, you’ll want to add tomato paste.
But Wait, There’s More!
Not every recipe calls for a holy trinity. Some just need a handful of onions or some peppers. Since you have all those diced onions and carrots and celery, you can also freeze each ingredient separately. Freeze them exactly the same way you did the mirepoix. A few weeks down the road, you’ll remember you needed to toss some onions in the chicken recipe and you can grab a frozen slab of them from your freezer stash. I like to freeze them in single-cup portions.That way, I don’t have to measure. I know each bag’s portion so I can snatch up one or two or three depending on my recipe. You’re welcome.
Yes. you can freeze any flavor base. Note that the water in onions and peppers bursts through during freezing so your mirepoix might be a little more watery. You can thaw the frozen mirepoix and drain it if you wish.
You don’t have to. You may consider blanching the vegetables before freezing, but I’ve never noticed a significant difference between blanched and unblanched frozen mirepoix.
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