Whether it's keeping food in the refrigerator that doesn't belong there or putting the wrong things in the microwave, misconceptions about preparing and storing food are widespread. The result: Moldy onions, flavorless tomatoes and kitchen explosions, to name a few.
But the refrigerator and the microwave aren't the only sources of common kitchen mistakes -- the freezer is also somewhat misunderstood. Yes, you can freeze just about anything (and we could all probably cut down on food waste by freezing more). Some things, however, are virtually unrecognizable once they've been frozen and thawed. In other words, you can freeze whatever you want, and use these foods frozen, but some foods don't hold up after being defrosted.
Here are 11 things you should not keep in the freezer.
Freezing food is a delicate matter. No matter what you're freezing, make sure to use it within nine months or so (yes, that means cleaning out your freezer), and also make sure to defrost it correctly. Most food requires adequate time for defrosting; a slow thaw typically yields the best results. You should also be mindful of cooling dishes completely before freezing them, and storing them in freezer-safe containers.
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If you want crisp, flavorful salad greens
, don't put them in the freezer. Greens will wilt and become soft and limp after they're frozen, and they'll also lose their flavor. Instead, store your washed and dried greens in the refrigerator, ideally wrapped in a paper towel in a plastic bag.
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Frozen milk will be lumpy when you thaw it, so freezing it is not the best idea if you want to drink it straight. If you're planning to use the milk in cooking, however, thawed milk can work. Just make sure that when you defrost it, you let it sit in the refrigerator for many hours -- up to a day or longer depending on the size of the container.
The best part about fried food -- the crispy, crunchy, greasy goodness -- will all but disappear if you put it in the freezer. Delicious, fried batter will turn soft, moist and mushy. What's the point of eating fried chicken if the coating doesn't crunch when you sink your teeth into it? What's worse than soggy French fries? While you may be able to revive the crunch on certain fried foods by sticking them in a really hot oven, by the time you do so the oil will have already seeped into the food. Our advice is to eat all of your fried food
in one go.
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You know how liquid expands when it turns solid (which is why you should choose appropriate containers and leave a little extra room when storing liquids in the freezer)? Eggs are no exception. The liquid inside will harden, expand and crack the shell. Worst case scenario: You'll be left with an eggy mess that will leave your freezer smelling rotten. Best case: You'll have unusable eggs.
Fruit and vegetables with a high water content will turn icy in the freezer, and they won't thaw well. Instead of returning to their crispy, crunchy state, they'll turn limp and soggy. No one wants to eat a limp piece of celery or a soggy cucumber.
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Freezing sour cream will cause it to separate, and that's just gross. You can stir it back together and use it in cooking, but you definitely don't want to eat it alone after it's been frozen and thawed.
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Crumb toppings on things like casseroles, mac and cheese or pies will suffer the same fate as the exterior of fried food -- they'll become soft and soggy. When the whole point of a crumb topping is to bring crunch and new textures to a dish, you'd better not risk putting it in the freezer. You can defrost the casserole and add the crumb topping later.
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We're not talking frozen yogurt here. We're talking yogurt that is frozen. Okay, that's confusing, but you get the point. Putting yogurt, Greek or otherwise, in the freezer will change the texture. You won't end up with something like the frozen yogurt that has taken over America in the last few decades. You'll end up with something you don't want to eat. Like sour cream, the yogurt will separate. It'll be acceptable for cooking if you really want to use it, but otherwise not great to eat on its own.
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Because potatoes have a high water content, ice crystals will form when you put whole, raw ones in the freezer. You'll be left with a mushy potato when you go to thaw it. Potatoes are best kept in a cool, dry place. If you absolutely want to freeze potatoes, you could try cooking them first -- they may still thaw out a little watery, but depending on how you cooked them, you have a better shot at turning out with something edible.
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With cheese's long fridge life, there's really no need to put it in the freezer. If you put a hard cheese in the freezer, it will turn crumbly and mealy. If you put soft cheese in the freezer, the moisture will crystalize the cheese's light, fluffy texture. Cheese (at least the good kind) is really delicate -- don't mess with putting it in the freezer.
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Frosting made from egg whites will lose its fluffiness and emit liquid if put in the freezer. This could completely ruin your cake
-- and that's just a crime.
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