As you know by now, I'm a huge fan of the cook and freeze method. I've been doing it for almost half my lifetime which probably makes me officially "old." I've frozen everything from lemon juice to lasagne to buttercream frosting. I know which casseroles my family loves and which ones are better left unmade.
Also? I've learned that there are indeed a few foods better left unfrozen.
Over the years I've been able to adapt our family's favorite recipes for freezing in order to save time and to preserve ingredients that I find at a great price. Almost any cooked recipe that you love can be frozen at some stage in the game, even if it's just roasting the peppers and slicing the onions that you'll use in a freshly made skillet dish.
While there's a long list of things that will freeze well, there's also a short list of things that don't belong in your freezer:
- Blocks of cheese - Cheese will freeze well, but its texture often undergoes a transformation, making it crumbly instead of easy to slice or shred. Instead of freezing the whole block, do your shredding and slicing prior to freezing.
- Soft cheeses, like Brie or Camembert - Again, the texture changes when soft cheese are frozen and thawed. They won't go "bad", but they won't work for fresh uses.
- Salad greens or other vegetables for fresh use - You can freeze spinach and other hearty greens that you plan to cook, but those you plan to serve fresh are better left unfrozen. Soggy salad? No thanks.
- Canned goods - Canned goods are shelf-stable; they don't need to be frozen. And I'm pretty sure the can will explode if you try. However, if you open a can of something, like chipotle peppers in adobo, and decide you can't use it all in the next four days, feel free to repackage it for freezing.
- Eggs in the shell - Ever forget a soda in the freezer? Yeah, same thing will happen to the egg. Things expand when they freeze. Don't put whole eggs in the freezer, but you can mix up a quiche and freeze that (unbaked).
- Cream sauces - Cream-based sauces can separate during freezing making them a less preferred candidate for freezing. However, I have frozen soups with cream many times. If you're curious about your recipe, freeze a small amount next time you make it, thaw, and do a taste test.
- Mayonnaise - Mayonnaise is another item whose texture doesn't hold up well. Store it in the fridge instead.
Short list, right? The most important thing not to freeze, though, is...
Any food you don't like - If you don't like it, then it shouldn't be taking up valuable real estate in your freezer. It's kitchen clutter that you will be better off without. At some point, it's okay to declare freezer bankruptcy on the things you just can't deal with. Give yourself a clean slate and stock up on the foods you do love.
That's what a freezer cure is all about.