The freezer is the ideal place for leftovers or items which nearing their expiration date. And even if you own one of the best refrigerators, the freezer space always ends up overloaded. So it may come as some comfort there are certain things you should never store in the freezer.
In fact, if you’ve been storing the wrong items all along, you could be wasting valuable space there. As well as these 3 reasons why you shouldn’t overfill your freezer, a tightly-packed freezer is never ideal. So if you want to organize your goods properly and free up space, here are 16 foods that you should never put in the freezer.
Ever wondered how long will food last in your freezer? We've got the answer here too.
16 foods you should never freeze
You definitely don’t want to find shelled eggs in the freezer. This is because the liquid inside actually expands when it's frozen, causing 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.
Ever wondered if you should keep eggs in the refrigerator? The answer might surprise you.
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. Freezing low-fat milk will be less clumpy, if you must freeze it.
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.
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.
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 U.S. 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.
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.
Fruits and vegetables high in water
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.
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.
Try to keep cooked pasta out of your freezer. While it won’t kill you to eat it, it won’t be particularly appetizing — cooked pasta 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 pasta, you can try cooking it al dente (still firm and slightly undercooked) before freezing, which should give you better results.
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 pasta, 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.
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.
Gravy and thick sauces
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.
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.
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.
Unless you intend to eat frozen grapes as a snack on a summer’s day, it’s not advisable to store fresh grapes in the freezer. Once you freeze them, and allow them to defrost, these end up as unappealing, soggy clumps. Too much water content will change the texture and more importantly, the taste of your sweet grapes.
If you want to preserve aromatic herbs, never store these in the freezer. Fresh bunches will not do well to retain their color or appearance, and will only turn into brown mushy messes once thawed. Instead, opt for frozen herbs that are specifically made for freezer storage.
More from Tom's Guide
For more tips, tricks, and how-tos, check out our guides on the 11 foods that you should never put in the fridge, 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.