It seems like a simple appliance, but your freezer and its contents are more complicated than you think. There are a ton of secret money-saving tips, but you’ll waste money in the long run if you don’t understand how to use your freezer properly. Knowing what foods can and can’t go in the freezer is a good place to start. These are the 15 foods you should never put in the freezer. We’ll cover a confusing kind of food (page 7) and a popular topping that you can make at home (page 12), so let’s dig in.
You can put milk in the freezer if you want to, but you might as well pour down the drain. Frozen milk that’s later defrosted separates into water and curdled chunks. No one wants to drink that.
The same thing happens to other dairy products. Sour cream also separates and curdles if you put it in the freezer. Yogurt won’t stay creamy if you freeze it, so avoid trying to make homemade frozen yogurt.
Here’s a little pop quiz. What do mozzarella sticks, French fries, and chicken wings have in common? They’re all fried, and they’re all foods you should never put in the freezer. You’ll be safe if you freeze them and eat them later, but they’ll be mushy instead of crisp, which defeats the purpose of frying them.
We just discussed why you should never freeze french fries or any fried food. Just to be on the safe side, never put a potato in the freezer. Freezing mashed potatoes or cooked spuds in a stew is fine, but raw potatoes won’t hold up to subzero temperatures. According to Delish, the water and starch don’t freeze well so you just get a mealy, grainy mess if you put it in the freezer.
Eggs in the shell should never go in the freezer. The watery insides expand, the shell cracks open, and raw egg (and bacteria) gets all over your freezer. However, you can freeze raw eggs for up to six months if you shell them and beat them first.
Your fine brie, delicate goat’s cheese, and creamy ricotta don’t stand a chance in the freezer. Similar to what we saw a minute ago with milk, soft cheeses separate into water and curds when they’re frozen and defrosted.
Fresh fruit and vegetables
Because of their high water content, fresh fruits and vegetables are foods you should never put in the freezer. The water freezes, but when defrosted the water and the plant fibers separate, leaving you with a gooey mess. However, some fruits and veggies are actually better when you buy them frozen, so it’s fine to keep those cold.
Here’s what you can and can’t do with meat in the freezer. You can:
- Store whole cuts of raw meat in the freezer for up to 12 months.
- Keep uncooked ground meat for up to four months.
- Store cooked meat for up to three months as leftovers.
If you remember anything about meat and the freezer, remember what you CAN’T do:
- Never put defrosted but uncooked meat back in the freezer. Bacteria can grow on the meat when it’s defrosted, and when you put it back in the freezer it can spread to other items.
An individual coffee bean is a small thing, but there’s a huge amount of confusion about how to store your grounds. The National Coffee Association (yes, that’s a real thing) recommends keeping beans airtight and cool, but putting them in the freezer is a big no-no. Here’s why.
Coffee grounds absorb moisture, odors, and tastes from the surrounding air. Most storage containers still let some air in and most freezers have several kinds of food inside, so if you freeze coffee you end up with smelly and damp grounds that don’t taste good.
Tips for freezing avocado are all over the internet, including instructions for halves and mashed avocados from the California Avocado Commission. However, the folks at Food52 tried the CAC method and got brown, spongy, and slimy avocados. We’re playing it safe and saying avocados are one of the foods you should never put in the freezer.
Nothing spruces up a dish like rosemary fresh from the garden or a basil leaf, but we’d daisy fresh herbs are foods you should never put in the freezer. There are various methods for keeping herbs in the freezer, such as these tricks from Serious Eats, but the flavor and texture will change dramatically. So unless you like mushy rosemary and wilted basil, we say play it safe and avoid the freezer.
If you make a water-based gravy to go with your Thanksgiving turkey, you might be OK freezing it, though there’s a chance the water and fat will separate. You’re probably safe freezing flour-based gravy. However, as Chowhound explains, dairy-based gravies don’t freeze well at all. So either finish that gravy Thanksgiving Day, toss it, or make it fresh, because it doesn’t keep at all.
Restaurants keep it on the table. You probably have a bottle in your refrigerator at home. But ketchup is one of the foods you should never put in the freezer. Delish writes that the tomatoes separate from the water and vinegar when ketchup freezes, and you’re left with a gloopy mess. So, never put it in the freezer, especially if you take the time making an easy homemade version.
Putting canned food in the freezer is a definite faux pas, and it should be a no-brainer. Canned food has a lot of water. Water expands when it’s frozen. So unless you want baked beans or soup all over your freezer, don’t put them in there. Plus, canned food is shelf stable, so there’s no reason to preserve it any further.
We discussed why you should never put coffee in the freezer a minute ago. Well, ground spices are in the same boat. The containers they come in aren’t airtight, and storing them in the freezer with other foods will change the flavors you get from spices such as pepper, garlic, and onion powder. So play it safe and never put your spices in the freezer or fridge.
If you put vodka or the college staple Jägermeister in the freezer, you’re fine. Hard liquor with its high alcohol content won’t become solid in your typical home freezer, and it’s the one exception when it comes to putting alcohol in the freezer. However, beer, champagne, and wine have less alcohol and more water than liquor, so they are foods you should never put in the freezer.