Once you own one of the best refrigerators, the freezer often becomes the go-to destination for all leftovers and food about to expire. It’s a handy little safety net which saves some serious food waste. And while it seems like the freezer can handle pretty much anything you throw in it, did you know that some things should never be kept in the freezer?
You read that right: the freezer is not suitable for certain foods. And considering how tightly packed most of our freezers end up, it’s essential that we save all of the space we can get. In fact, here are 3 reasons why you shouldn’t overfill your freezer. So if you spot one of these culprits in the freezer, now’s the time to get rid of it. Here are 14 foods that should never go in the freezer.
14 foods you should never freeze
1. Eggs — You definitely don’t want to find shelled eggs in the freezer. This is because the liquid inside actually expands when it is frozen, which causes the shell to crack open from the inside. Consequently, the egg is at risk of contamination because it’s now exposed.
If you want to freeze your eggs, simply remove the shell and beat them before storing in an airtight container or a freezer storage bag.
2. Milk — If you buy multiple cartons of milk at a time, it can be all too tempting to store some away in the freezer. However, we wouldn’t recommend this — milk which has been frozen tends to separate and clump as it’s thawed, especially if it’s high in fat.
There’s no harm in drinking it, but it won’t have the best texture for your morning cup of Joe. It is, however, ideal for cooking with, so there are exceptions with this one.
3. Cheese — Cheese is another dairy product you’ll want to keep out of the freezer. Much like milk, freezing it can change its consistency, so the texture ends up dry, crumbly and overall unappealing to eat.
Soft cheeses in particular, like cream cheese or cottage cheese, struggle in the freezer for the same reason as milk — it can clump. However, you can still use it in your baking recipes with little difference.
4. Cans of food — Cans of food should never go in the freezer. This is because the liquid inside can expand to the point where it breaks the seal, leaving it open to bacteria and contamination, much like shelled eggs.
You can still freeze your canned goods though. Simply remove what’s inside first and store it in a suitable container prior to freezing.
5. Defrosted meat — If you’ve already defrosted meat once before, it’s not a good idea to put it back in the freezer a second time. While the US Department of Agriculture (opens in new tab) advises that ‘Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking,’ meat will lose a lot of its moisture as it thaws, which can ruin the texture if it’s re-frozen. Try to only remove as much meat from the freezer as you intend to eat to avoid this problem.
6. Mayonnaise — Keep the mayo out of the freezer as well. While your favorite sauce may look as good as new in the freezer, it will separate when it thaws, leading to a thick, curdled mess. It’s perfectly safe to eat, but the consistency won’t be particularly appetizing.
If you’ve found a jar of mayo in the freezer and you just can’t throw it away, there’s always the option of combining the ingredients once again using an electric hand mixer. Just bear in mind you might need to add some extra water, which could thin it out.
7. Fruits and vegetables — Any fruit and vegetable which contains a lot of water — such as cucumber, melon or lettuce — should steer clear of the freezer. This is because the water content will turn to ice as it’s frozen and then thaw as it defrosts, which leads to soggy food. And a cucumber which has lost its crunch just doesn’t sound appealing.
8. Fried foods — Unfortunately, fried foods are a no-go for the freezer as well. As soon as they thaw, that delicious crunch will be lost and you will be left with a soggy shadow of your onion rings.
Avoid this cooking method if you want to store the excess in the freezer, and stick to using the oven. That way you can freeze the results knowing they will be just as delicious when you defrost them.
9. Cake — Try to keep cooked cake out of your freezer. While it won’t kill you to eat it, it won’t be particularly appetizing — cooked cake will turn into a mushy and soggy mess as it defrosts. If you thought it was tricky to keep on your fork before, you have no idea.
If you must freeze cake, you can try cooking it al dente (still firm and slightly undercooked) before freezing, which should give you better results.
10. Rice — Cooked rice goes hand-in-hand with pasta. As it thaws it becomes a mushy and unappetizing side dish. It won’t hurt you to eat it, much like pie, but you might struggle considering the unappealing consistency.
Uncooked rice, on the other hand, is fine for the freezer, and doing so will extend its shelf life effectively.
11. Potatoes — Potatoes get a separate mention because it’s such an everyday ingredient. As you will have guessed, raw potatoes should not be kept in the freezer. This is because these contain a fair amount of water, so thawing one will result in a mushy, grainy texture.
On the flip side, cooked potatoes are good to go in the freezer. Just remember to store them in airtight containers or freezer storage bags.
12. Gravy and thick sauce — Any thick sauces, such as milk or cream-based gravy or sauces which contain cornstarch, should be avoided in the freezer. The ingredients will separate as the sauce thaws, resulting in a gross, lumpy mess.
If you can’t face wasting gravy in the future, you can always make up a flour-based gravy instead — it should keep for up to four months in the freezer.
13. Frosting — If you’ve got something with delicate frosting or a meringue finish, steer clear of the freezer. As egg whites defrost, they lose structure and moisture, which will not only ruin the appearance, but give it a chewy texture.
14. Anything creamy — As you’ve already seen in the list so far, anything which contains cream tends to separate as it defrosts, resulting in an unappealing mess. This applies to other items you might be tempted to freeze as well, be it yogurt, custard or sour cream.
For more tips, tricks, and how-tos, check out our guides on the 10 things you should never put in the dryer, 15 things you should never put in a washing machine and 8 bread maker mistakes you never knew you were making.