Your freezer allows you to do everything from plan meals ahead to eliminate food waste. While you can usually throw in most dinner dishes or leftovers and be fine, the super cold temperature isn’t ideal for all foods. Certain ingredients can morph into something gross once thawed or even become a health hazard.
The freezer has it’s limits. Here are some foods that just shouldn’t be frozen:
While it would be nice to have a few quarts of this staple item stowed away, milk stored in the freezer can separate into chunks and turn watery when it thaws. It is still technically safe to consume when this happens, but the consistency won’t be anything like what you would expect for your morning coffee or cereal. If you absolutely must free milk, try putting it in an ice cube tray to lessen the effect. Pull it out, and you won’t even notice if you pop it in a smoothie or dessert recipe.
No one wants soggy mozzarella sticks or limp french fries. But that’s exactly what you’ll get if you try to freeze and thaw foods that have already been fried. Keep the crunch by skipping the fryer and opting to bake foods like these in the oven first instead.
If you freeze a gallon of liquid without leaving space for it to expand, you’re going to have a mess on your hands. The same goes for eggs still in their shell. The water content inside the egg expands when frozen and will crack the outer shell when it has no where else to go. This can leave the egg vulnerable to dangerous bacteria.
Some Fruits and veggies
Lots of fruits and vegetables do just fine in the freezer, but others have a tough time. Any produce that has a high water concentration — celery, leafy greens, watermelon, cucumber, potatoes, tomatoes — will not survive the cold temperatures. The water inside them will form ice crystals, meaning that when they thaw out again, you’ll be left with a mushy mess no one will want to eat.
Anything with a crumbly topping
Deep-dish Dutch apple pie? Macaroni and cheese casserole? Similar to fried foods, that crumbly, delicious topping will lose all of its crunch in the freezer. If you have to make these dishes ahead, freeze them before adding the topping.
Yogurt is a wise choice for your health, but unfortunately you’ll have to finish that tub in the fridge before it goes bad. While freezing yogurt doesn’t kill the healthy live and active cultures it’s known for, when yogurt thaws, it loses its texture and creaminess.
Keep your spice rack clean and away from heat, and your dried spices can last a long time. But if you don’t cook often and consider the freezer as an option for extending their shelf life ever further, think again. Freezing and thawing results in levels of extreme dryness or humidity that will alter the flavor.
If you make too much pasta but don’t want to waste it, you’re going to have to invite some friends over. Freezing cooked pasta isn’t an option. It won’t make you sick, but it will be mushy.
Similar to pasta, there is nothing wrong with eating frozen rice, you’re just not going to want to the tasteless, textureless grain.
Think you can save some cash by buying mayo in bulk and freezing it? Think again. When mayo thaws it separates, leaving a clumpy, unappetizing texture.
Frozen cheese doesn’t pose any health risks, but you’ll lose a lot of its quality. Soft cheeses, cheese with air pockets, and aged cheese are especially susceptible to the cold, so refrain from even thinking about freezing that Brie, Swiss, or sharp cheddar. Freezing alters the taste and texture of cheese. That said, if you’ve topped a pizza with some mozzarella and you’re going to eat it on dough with sauce, it’s no big deal.
Food you’ve already thawed
If you never got around to cooking those chicken thighs you defrosted, too bad. Once a frozen food has been thawed, it can attract harmful bacteria. You either have to cook the meat to a safe temperature and eat it or cook it to a safe temperature and freeze the cooked meat.
This one should be obvious, but never, under any circumstances put an unopened can of food in the freezer. Whatever is inside that can will expand when frozen and explode your can leaving with with a dangerously sharp can and an enormous mess.
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