One of the most common questions I hear from people who are interested in freezer-meal cooking is: "How do I know what will freeze well, and what won't?"
If you're unsure of how well something will freeze, freeze a single serving when you prepare the dish for a regular family meal. This way you can check on how well the item holds up to freezing and reheating.
The following lists should give you a good start at identifying potential freezing problems with various food items.
Don't Freeze Well:
- Greasy foods (they just become greasier)
- Cake icings made with egg whites
- Cream fillings and soft frostings
- Pies made with custard or cream fillings
- Fried foods (they tend to lose their crispness and become soggy)
- Fruit jelly on sandwiches may soak into the bread
- Soft cheese, such as cream cheese (can become watery)
- Mayonnaise (it separates; use salad dressing instead)
- Sour cream (it becomes thin and watery)
- Potatoes cooked in soups and stews (they become mushy and may darken. If using potatoes, cook until barely soft and still firm; then freeze quickly.)
Change During Freezing:
- Gravies and other fat-based sauces may separate and need to be recombined by stirring or processing in the blender
- Thickened sauces may need thinning after freezing; thin with broth or milk
- Seasonings such as onions, herbs and flavorings used in recipes can change during freezing. These are best added during reheating to obtain accurate flavors
- Vegetables, pastas and grains used in cooked recipes usually are softer after freezing and reheating (undercook before freezing, or add when dish is reheated)
- Heavy cream can be frozen if used for cooking, but will not whip
- Some yogurts may suffer texture changes
- Raw vegetables lose their crispness, but can be used for cooking, stews, etc.
- Many cheeses change texture in the freezer. Most hard cheeses turn crumbly(which makes them okay for grating, but not for slicing)
© Deborah Taylor-Hough Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Deborah Taylor-Hough (wife and mother of three) is the author of several books including the bestselling Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month (affiliate link) and Frugal Living for Dummies (affiliate link). For regular frugal tips and homemaking ideas, subscribe to Debi's new e-newsletter, firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tips-and-quips/ [group no longer active]