The freezer can be a real lifesaver when it comes to getting the most out of your groceries — after all, it’s so frustrating when you end up tossing barely opened foods as they pass their “best by” date. And while it’s easy enough to toss in meats and even cheese, what about other foods? Can you freeze cottage cheese? Eggs? It’s hard to know since freezing can seriously degrade the quality of some foods. That’s why we talked to experts about the foods that you should never put straight in the freezer — and what you can do to preserve them instead.
Can you freeze cottage cheese?
Cottage cheese has tons of health benefits, so we understand the urge to stock up on this nutritious snack. However, you’re not going to want to eat the defrosted result after taking a container out of the freezer. “Cottage cheese is a big no-no for freezing,” cautions Rosie Elliot, professional chef and owner of Kitchen Appliance Answer. “The high moisture content causes it to turn watery and mushy once thawed.” That means if you’re looking to preserve it to enjoy a bowl of cottage cheese and berries, the freezer isn’t a fix.
That said, the freezer can be useful: “While frozen cottage cheese may not be suitable for dishes where texture matters, like salads or as a topping, it can still work in recipes where texture is less critical, like in casseroles, smoothies or baked dishes,” says Lisa Richards, nutritionist and creator of the Candida Diet. “Just keep in mind that the taste and texture may be altered, so it’s essential to adjust your expectations accordingly.” To freeze, simply store in an air-tight container or plastic bag. To thaw, place in the refrigerator until defrosted. (Click through for these tasty reasons why cottage cheese is making a comeback.)
Other foods that should not go in the freezer
The freezer can be a true lifesaver when it comes to saving groceries that are just about to expire. But the last thing you want to do is go through all that effort just to find out that your food is no longer appetizing once thawed. Keep reading to see which foods the experts say don’t fare well in the freezer, plus the smart tricks that will help you get the most of your groceries.
1. Whole Eggs
If you accidentally bought too many eggs, you might be tempted to pop the extras in the freezer for another time. Don’t make this mistake. “Eggs can expand when frozen, which may cause the shells to crack,” says Melissa Wasserman Baker, RDN, creator of Food Queries. Freezing also causes the yolk within an eggshell to become thick and syrupy. Aside from sounding totally gross, this yolk would also not “flow” the same way an unfrozen yolk does, and it wouldn’t blend well with any other cooking ingredients, even the egg white.
How to best freeze eggs: “Crack them, beat them and store them in an airtight container or ice cube tray,” says Baker. “However, the texture of thawed eggs may change, making them better suited for baking or cooking rather than for making scrambled eggs.”
2. Canned food
Since canned foods are already shelf-stable, they don’t need to be frozen. Not only is it not necessary — it’s actually not a good idea to freeze canned goods. “The expansion of liquid in the can can cause the can to burst,” says Baker.
How to best freeze canned foods: “If you have leftovers from a can, it’s best to transfer them to an airtight container before freezing,” note Baker, who adds that some canned foods, like vegetables, may have a different texture after thawing from frozen, so they’re best used for cooked dishes.
If you put mayonnaise in the freezer, it will likely be safe to eat when you take it out. However, safe and delicious are two totally different things. “Mayo contains emulsified fats and water, and freezing can cause it to separate and become watery,” notes Baker. Say goodbye to a creamy, dreamy condiment and say hello to a lumpy, clumpy mess. Yuck!
How to best freeze foods with mayo: If you’re planning to freeze something that has mayonnaise as an ingredient, you’re not totally out of luck, thankfully. “If you need to preserve a dish that contains mayonnaise, it’s usually best to add the mayo after thawing,” adds Baker.
If you’ve ever seen limp lettuce, you know how sad it can be. According to Baker, that’s exactly what will happen to this leafy green if you put it in the freezer. “Freezing lettuce can cause it to become limp and watery when thawed, which changes its texture and flavor,” she says.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s not a great idea to put any type of salad green in the freezer due to its high water content. This goes double if the salad has any kind of dressing — just put it all in the fridge.
How to best use up lettuce: If you’ve already put your salad greens in the freezer, there is one way you can potentially save them: Try to incorporate them in a veggie soup, casserole or any dish where you can blend up the greens. (Bonus: Click through to see how veggie soups can boost weight loss.)
5. Raw potatoes
Once frozen, the cell structure of raw potatoes can actually change, according to Idaho Potato. This will negatively affect the appearance, texture and, most important, taste after the tuber is cooked — in fact, they often turn black once out of the freezer!
How to best freeze potatoes: If you want to preserve potatoes, it’s best to blanch them first, advises Baker. “Blanching involves briefly boiling the potatoes and then rapidly cooling them before freezing. This process helps preserve their texture and prevents browning. Simply freezing raw potatoes without blanching can lead to a mushy texture and an off-putting color when thawed,” she says.
Want to learn more about how to best manage your frozen food? Check out the stories below.