On long winter days, it's nice to sidle up to your freezer and defrost a glorious container of homemade tomato sauce made from the bountiful harvest of summer. However, there are some foods you should never put into a deep freeze in the first place. Here are six foods to avoid freezing:
Like other produce that's high in water, potatoes are best kept in a cool, dry place, not in the coldest of freezers. Pop them in the freezer and when it comes time to defrost, your once-firm potato will feel mushy. Should you have an overabundance of cooked potatoes, you can consider freezing them though, again, you run the risk of them being soft and overly mushy when it comes time to reheat them.
2. Cooked pasta
Like potatoes, it's tempting to place a surplus of cooked pasta into the freezer for later. Skip it as you'll only end up with mushy, soft and shapeless noodles.
3. Leafy greens
Farmers fear frost for the same reason you should never freeze salad greens, says Shane Allen, a certified weight loss specialist. "Salad greens become wilted and slimy after they thaw," he says. "Keep your greens in the crisper instead." Kale is one green that experts say should particularly remain freezer-free. "When you put kale in the freezer, its nutrients are degraded and its texture, color and flavor are changed," says Nichole Dandrea, RD, a dietitian nutritionist. "This may prompt a brownish color, off-flavor and diminished nutrition content."
There are plenty of heartier veggies that can be frozen, however, including green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, peas, carrots and Brussels sprouts. A good rule of thumb to follow: Opt to freeze only low moisture-containing produce.
Many of us had parents who tried to freeze milk — with little success. "My mother tried freezing milk to save money after she found milk on sale," Allen says. "It didn't turn out too well. The milk was lumpy and smelled sour, despite having been frozen." Another problem: It's hard to tell when the true expiration date is once you've frozen your milk. This no-freeze rule extends to other dairy, too, including custard, yogurt and cottage cheese, all of which will separate in the freezer.
5. Raw and hard-boiled eggs
It may be tempting to freeze eggs if you happen to have an extra dozen, but that's exactly what you shouldn't do, says Jennifer Glockner, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and creator of the Smartee Plate book series for children. "The liquid will expand and crack the shells," she says. "If you want to freeze raw eggs, you must first remove the shell and beat the whites and/or yolk." By freezing eggs in the shell you also run the risk of inviting bacteria in as frozen temperatures will prompt the egg to expand, crack the shell and allow bacteria in.
Toss items like garlic and cloves into the freezer and it's likely they'll become more concentrated when you defrost them. "This can result in a powerful, bitter taste," Allen says. "In addition, curries will become 'musty' tasting after being frozen." As for spices that can be frozen, cinnamon, ginger and cubes of frozen basil — provided they're chopped and not on the stalk — can freeze just fine.