Freezing excess food seems like a great alternative to throwing it away, but some foods don’t do as well in the freezer as others. Freezer burn isn’t the only thing you need to watch; certain ingredients can totally break down and loose quality once frozen and thawed. These foods should never be stored in your freezer, but if you do, be mindful of how you use them.
Leafy greens contain a lot of water. When you freeze greens, that water expands and bursts the cell walls that maintain a leaf’s structure, resulting in soggy and limp lettuce. If you have ever left a head of lettuce in the refrigerator too long, you understand this concept. Use leftover leafy greens in main dish salads or stirred into soups and stews – just don’t freeze them.
Eggs cooked into popular and convenient breakfast casseroles are fine to freeze. However, don’t try to freeze raw eggs in the shell. The egg will expand when frozen, which may cause the shell to crack, wasting food and leaving a mess in the freezer.
As with other foods, if you freeze cheese you risk ruining the quality of the product – and cheese is often just too expensive to ruin. Freezing can alter both the texture and taste of cheese, especially if it is soft, aged, or has air pockets. If you have a block of Parmesan or cheddar that you don’t want to waste, go ahead and cube it or grate it, put it in a freezer safe bag, and save it for casseroles and soups (and don’t forget to add the Parmesan rind to the soup for deeper flavor). If you have a quality hunk of Brie that you don’t want to waste, it is best to go ahead and use it up now.
The creamy, buttery texture is one of the things we love most about an avocado, so don’t ruin it by freezing the leftover half. It will become slimy, mushy, and incredibly unappealing. So, just don’t freeze. To properly store a leftover half of an avocado, coat the flesh with fresh lemon juice, wrap the avocado half in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge.
Yes! You can freeze hummus up to four months. Here’s the trick: it takes a few hours to completely thaw, so don’t freeze hummus in big batches. Instead, break it down into smaller portion sizes before freezing, and be sure to stir it well before using.
If you plan to use it in cooking or baking, go ahead and freeze sour cream. But it is not recommended if you are going to top a baked potato or use it in a dip. Like a lot of dairy products, sour cream will separate when frozen and take on the lumpy consistency of cottage cheese. It’s certainly safe to use, but thawed sour cream won’t have the creamy texture you would expect from.
When put in the freezer, the gelatin content in Jell-O prevents it from hardening like ice. Freezing damages the polymers and colloids that bind gelatin together, which in turn ruins the texture of Jell-O. When thawed, your lovely congealed salad will separate, and you will lose the chance to “watch it jiggle and see it wiggle.”
If you freeze yogurt, a dairy product, it can separate and become watery and grainy when thawed. Even worse, the yogurt may acquire an acidic taste and some of the live, good-for-you bacterial cultures found in yogurt may be destroyed by the freezing process. It is still ok to eat, however, if the altered taste and texture don’t bother you.