Give thanks for your freezer, especially in summer. From popsicles to ice cream, popsicles to frozen pizza, items stored in this handy device keep homeowners from losing their temper.
“You can freeze anything,” says Lizann Powers-Hammond, a food preservation expert at Washington State University Extension. “It’s not a matter of security.”
However, not all should be stored in your freezer.
Thawed foods may not make you sick, but some foods don’t thaw appetizingly, Powers-Hammond tells Money Talks News.
Here are the items she thinks thaw best, or at least require some skill when freezing.
1. Milk intended for consumption
It may surprise you, but you can freeze milk for up to a month. However, the result is best used for cooking, not drinking. This is because milk separates when frozen.
Likewise, cream-based sauces can clump and thaw in ways you might not like, Powers-Hammond says.
If you don’t have room for milk in your fridge or freezer, consider buying powdered milk and preparing it in small batches as needed. Powdered milk is a stock-friendly option, as we detail in “11 Foods That Can Store for Years.”
2. Leafy greens
We should all probably eat more leafy greens, like lettuce and endive. But don’t try to freeze them.
The high moisture content that makes them so crispy and delicious when fresh makes them soggy and soft when thawed.
3. Vegetable salad
Speaking of lettuce, the raw vegetables that jazz up savory salads — like cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, and radishes — aren’t freezer safe either.
If you must freeze them, Powers-Hammond recommends blanching them first by briefly immersing them in boiling water. This food freezing guide includes instructions for blanching.
Alternatively, for a quick and easy way to use salad greens, check out “This Homemade Meal Is Cheap, Healthy, and Requires No Cooking.”
4. Russet Potatoes
Know your potato before you put it in the freezer. The popular roux, so nice and fluffy when prepared fresh, tends to turn mealy when frozen. When freezing a stew, be prepared for the potatoes to lose their shape.
Best for freezing are small, waxy red potatoes. But even these must be blanched before freezing.
5. Fried foods
It’s hard to beat a good dish of crispy fries, served hot with salt and ketchup.
But don’t freeze your leftover fries. They become soggy when frozen and then thawed.
6. Cooked pasta
For best taste and texture, freeze homemade pasta and soft, fresh pasta found in the refrigerated area of a grocery store only before — not after — cooking.
Pasta that’s fully cooked can become soft and mushy when reheated, providing an unappealing “reheated” taste, Powers-Hammond says.
Here’s a tip: if you’re making extra lasagna or other pasta dishes to freeze, don’t overcook the pasta. Aim for a classic “al dente” (slightly firm) texture.
7. Mayonnaise and mayonnaise dressings
Salad dressings made with mayo and mayonnaise “get a little gross” with freezing, Powers-Hammond says.
Mayo won’t come out of the freezer the same way it came in. It’s an emulsion – a combination of ingredients (oil, egg yolks, and lemon juice or vinegar, in this case) that don’t normally mix together easily. The emulsion tends to separate when thawed.
This rule applies twice for potato salad, since potatoes, eggs and mayonnaise are not suitable for the freezer. It’s not that frozen potato salad is dangerous. It just won’t be very delicious or appealing.
8. Hard cheese blocks or wedges
You box freeze hard cheeses, such as aged cheddar. Don’t plan on using it later in a sliced cheese platter.
Freezing hard cheese makes it crumbly. Before freezing, plan how you will use it. Crumbly frozen cheese can be great in a recipe.
Powers-Hammond recommends grating a block or piece of hard cheese before freezing.
9. Cream or custard fillings and puddings
Ah, custard and cream fillings, so hard to resist. But resist freezing them.
“Flans tend to weep,” Powers-Hammond warns. “The water escapes from it.”
And don’t leave the iced cake in the freezer for very long for the same reason. It might be time to rethink the tradition of saving a slice of wedding cake for your first anniversary.
Watch out for seasonings
Here’s an extra tip: if you’re making a spicy dish to freeze, go easy on the seasonings. Some seasonings get stronger in the freezer.
Powers-Hammond says that when she made two pans of enchiladas, serving one for dinner and freezing the second, freezing increased the heat of the spices in the frozen dish so much that his wife couldn’t believe the two dishes were from the same batch.
“Season lightly before freezing,” she concludes.
Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click on links in our stories.