Freeze With Ease For Your High Holiday Celebrations

hero image
Strawberry in Ice Cube
04 Sep 2008

As the Jewish Holidays approach, my phone starts to ring and my inbox overflows with emails from people who are panicking about preparing for the upcoming holidays. The number one question on everyone’s lips is “Does it freeze?” The second question is “How far in advance can I make this?”

Here are some helpful guidelines to help you with your holiday preparations. And be sure to save this column for future use as a reference guide!

Chicken soup freezes well, as do most soups. Flash-freeze your matzo balls on a cookie sheet in a single layer, then transfer them to resealable bags, seal tightly and freeze. Cooked noodles also freeze well when stored in resealable plastic bags. They will defrost when you reheat them slowly in the hot soup.

Roast brisket, veal or other meats will freeze very well, but if you don’t want to freeze them, you can make them a few days ahead and keep them tightly covered in the refrigerator. See my scrumptious recipe for Cranberry Brisket with Caramelized Onions (below) from my latest book Norene’s Healthy Kitchen: Eat YOUR Way to Good Health (Whitecap $34.95), which includes terrific tips to make preparation easier.

Chicken and turkey freeze extremely well and so do meatballs and cabbage rolls. However, don’t stuff chicken, turkey or roast veal if you plan to freeze it.

Frozen gefilte fish balls will become watery when thawed. My mother taught me her secret to freezing gefilte fish which I am now sharing with you: Just simmer the thawed fish balls for about 15 minutes in enough water to cover, then drain well. Your gefilte fish will taste freshly cooked!

Side dishes like knishes, kugels, latkes, mock kishka, couscous and kasha all freeze well but vegetable salads are best prepared shortly before serving.

Honey cakes freeze very well and will stay moist and tender for several days when stored at room temperature if you wrap them well. Sponge, chiffon, carrot and chocolate cakes also freeze well. Apple pie or other fruit pies freeze well if you assemble them and freeze them unbaked – just be sure to double-wrap them well first. They can be baked without defrosting by unwrapping them and placing them in the oven right from the freezer.

Apple cake might get a little soggy when thawed, so a good trick is to place it in the oven, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes to evaporate any excess moisture. Same thing applies to fruit crisps.

Home-made challahs can be made in advance and frozen. One of my friends makes a big batch of medium-sized challahs and freezes them for the whole month of holidays.
Cookies of all kinds (chocolate chip, mandelbroit, biscotti) and squares freeze well and even taste good straight from the freezer!

In my latest book, Norene’s Healthy Kitchen (Whitecap Books), I made sure to provide do-ahead advice for each and every recipe, how long it could be prepared in advance, how long it could be frozen.






* * *

While writing this article, I spoke with Jamie Geller of Monsey, NY. She is the author of QUICK & KOSHER: Recipes From The Bride Who Knew Nothing (Feldheim Publishers; November 2007, $34.99). A former TV producer for HBO, Jamie came into marriage and kosher cooking without knowing a spatula from a saucepan. She admits that before she was married, she had never turned on the oven in her apartment – instead she used it as a storage place for her clothing!

Determined to master cooking yet short on time, she was dismayed to find that most cookbooks consider an hour of preparation time “quick,” and presumed more culinary skill than many people have. So Jamie decided to compile a collection of quick and easy recipes with step-by-step instructions that would require no more than 15 minutes to prepare – recipes that would deliver scrumptious, eye-catching, satisfying meals to impress her family and friends.

QUICK & KOSHER is the result of her quest, with more than 160 recipes and 120 full-color photos that will prove invaluable not only to culinary novices but also experienced cooks who love Kosher food. Most recipes require less than 10 minutes before they are popped into the oven, set atop the stove or served directly to your hungry, eager guests!

Here are some of her favorite recipes from her terrific cookbook that Jamie shared with me for your holiday celebrations. She chose recipes that can be made in advance and frozen so you can be “the hostess with the mostest!”

Jamie wrote, “Challah Kugel is my very first real success! Thanks to Grandma Martha’s patience, I have now mastered her famous recipe – most probably because I made her stay on the phone and walk me through each step “holding my hand” and offering much needed emotional support.

I bake this kugel in our family-heirloom, grease-stained, metal loaf pan. To my surprise, it even comes out great (with the quantities doubled) in a 9 x 13-inch disposable pan! It’s a dish made from leftovers, yet a novelty at the table. And it freezes beautifully, too! What could be better?

Norene Gilletz is a cookbook author, cooking teacher and food consultant based in Toronto, Canada. Her latest book is NORENE’S HEALTHY KITCHEN: Eat YOUR Way to Good Health (Whitecap). For information about her cookbooks, cooking demonstrations and culinary services, call 416-226-2466 or visit her website at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.