We’re all about reducing food waste (and saving a few bucks in the process), which is why we’re happy we can rely on the freezer to preserve our excess food…well, most of it, at least. Unfortunately, some things simply aren’t made to survive freezing temperatures. Here, a list of ten foods you should never store in the freezer—’cause, you know, knowledge is power.
1. Whole eggs
Maybe you have chickens who are laying more eggs than your family can handle, or perhaps you just found a really good deal on eggs at the store and are tempted to buy in bulk. Whatever the case may be, if you’re considering popping whole, raw eggs in the freezer to prolong their lifespan, don’t. Raw eggs will expand in the freezer, causing the shell to crack, and that’s bad news. Per the American Egg Board, your best bet is to remove the raw eggs from their shells and thoroughly whisk the whites and yolks together before pouring the egg into a tightly-sealed freezer container.
2. Thawed meat
This one is a little more nuanced, because it really comes down to how you thawed the meat. In general, thawing and refreezing meat repeatedly will degrade the texture of the meat. That said, the USDA guidelines note that it’s safe to refreeze thawed meat, provided you defrosted the meat in the refrigerator. However, meat thawed at room temperature (and this includes cold water baths) or in the microwave cannot safely be refrozen and must be cooked immediately.
3. Cream-based dishes
No doubt the cream of mushroom soup or cauliflower casserole you made last night was divine, but you better make short work of the leftovers. Yep, anything with a cream base—be it a sauce, soup, curry or casserole—is liable to either separate or take on an unappetizing curdled texture when stored in the freezer. It’s worth noting, though, that cream-based dishes that have been frozen are still safe to eat. The main issue is simply that you likely won’t enjoy them quite so much.
Given what you just learned about cream-based dishes, this one is fairly straight-forward. Indeed, yogurt, like other dairy products, has a bad habit of separating and becoming lumpy when frozen. Trust on this one—lumpy, congealed yogurt is not something you want to wake up to when preparing your morning granola. (Psst: This applies to milk and other dairy products, too.)
Any sommelier or wine connoisseur would tell you to absolutely not freeze wine…and that’s valid, assuming your intention is to drink it straight from the glass in the future. All types of wine, or at least the kind worth drinking in the first place, can be re-corked and stored in the fridge for three to five days after opening—and some of us (raises hand) would say that is plenty of time to finish the job. Still, if you’re a particularly light drinker who’s loath to see that half bottle go to waste, you can and should freeze it. The catch? Once thawed, the wine should be used for cooking purposes only, not for imbibing, as it will most certainly have lost most of its character in the harsh climate of your freezer.
6. Carbonated drinks
Ever popped a room temperature beer in the freezer because you were in a hurry to chill it down, only to forget about it and discover an exploded mess later on? If not, save yourself the disappointment (and potential danger) and take our word for it: Carbonated beverages like beer, seltzer and soda do not take kindly to freezing because they expand so much that the frozen liquid will likely crack whatever container it’s in.
What’s more, even if your canned, bubbly bev doesn’t end up bursting at the seams—a potentially dangerous scenario if it happens when you go to open the ticking, pressurized time bomb—you still don’t stand to benefit, since the carbon dioxide responsible for that invigorating fizz will dissolve at freezing temperatures. In other words, the refreshment you’ve been looking forward to will most likely fall flat.
If you’re considering freezing your favorite sandwich spread and condiment, you might want to get to know it a little better before you proceed. Mayonnaise is an emulsion of oil and egg yolk—and emulsions are easily broken by environmental factors—like freezing temperatures, for example. Bottom line: Don’t freeze a jar of mayonnaise because it will separate, and you’ll be greeted by a seriously gross mess of oil and egg gloop.
8. Fully cooked pasta
Freezing pasta (or rice, for that matter) is never a good idea for the same reason that reheating refrigerated pasta can be so tricky. Once fully cooked, pasta and other starchy grains can’t withstand much more heat. Needless to say, the amount of heat required to revive a frozen pasta is a bridge too far. The end result? A mushy mess that bears no resemblance to the al dente dinner you were dreaming of.
9. Salad greens
The case for keeping salad greens out of the freezer hardly needs to be stated. If you’ve ever tried to save a dressed salad in the fridge, you’re probably well aware of how quickly those crunchy greens turn into slimy mush. (Hint: It’s a matter of hours.) Alas, dressed or undressed, washed or unwashed, the moisture content of salad greens is simply too high to withstand the frigid temperatures of your freezer, and they’ll quickly turn into a wilted waste.
10. Soft herbs
We feel your pain: Herbs like basil, sage and parsley come in relatively large quantities, whereas most recipes call for only scant amounts. Nevertheless, you can’t just send that bunch of cilantro straight to the freezer. Soft herbs, just like salad greens, contain too much moisture to fare well in the freezer. Ironically, the solution here is…water. Yep, just fill an empty ice cube tray with washed and chopped herbs, add water, and turn the leftover herbs into ice cubes that can be thawed and used in a variety of dishes. This method doesn’t hold up as well when you’re going for an eye-pleasing garnish—but, hey, at least the flavors will still hold up.