Extra cookie batter? Freezer. Left over soup? Freezer. Meat in bulk? Freezer.
Freezers are the best way to keep food as fresh as possible over an extended period of time. But what happens when certain foods actually aren’t meant to go in the freezer at all?
Not every type of food is freezer compatible. According to Jonathan Deutsch, Ph.D., professor at Drexel University and director of the Drexel Food Lab, all food can freeze. However, some foods will deteriorate under freezing temperatures.
For example, water expands when frozen, meaning sub zeros temps can disrupt the cellular structure in water-based food. Moreover, these freezing temperatures will ultimately damage cell walls and alter the texture of many foods once thawed. Deutsch also notes some foods can even develop an off taste from absorbing other odors within the freezer.
So, when it comes to foods you shouldn’t freeze, which foods are a big no-no and why?
Avoid storing cabbage, iceberg lettuce or romaine lettuce in the freezer. Freezing and thawing damage the delicate leaves’ cellular structure, making them less crisp.
However, it’s still possible to store other vegetables and fruits in the freezer when properly prepared. Vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, chard and peas can be chopped, blanched, frozen and then transferred to a vacuum-sealed bag for long-term storage in the freezer.
Sauce and Gravy
Sauce or gravy thickened with cornstarch will often become watery once thawed. Consequently, the freezing weakens the bond between the starch and moisture it incorporates, leaving it less smooth.
In contrast to stock-based soups, cream-based soups are less compatible with freezing temperatures. Once thawed, creamy soups previously can become watery and lumpy. The cream may also separate, creating an odd texture.
Cooked Macaroni, Spaghetti Or Rice
It may come as a surprise that cooked macaroni, spaghetti and rice are not the best candidates for the freezer when frozen alone. This is because they can have an unpleasant mushy texture and warmed-over taste once thawed. Although, when incorporated into a previously prepared meal, these ingredients will do just fine in the freezer.
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP), sour cream should not be frozen. The freezing process causes the sour cream to separate and become watery. Consequently, once the sour cream is thawed, it will not return to its original consistency.
Even though eggs can be frozen, freezing just its whites yields a mushy, rubbery texture upon thawing. But according to NCHFP, freezing eggs is generally not necessary. They can be kept in the fridge for up to a month.
Despite effort, deep-fried foods won’t regain their original crispiness after being frozen. Moisture and oil bleed into the food, making it a soggy mess. So, savor that heavenly crunch while it’s fresh.