Frozen Assets: What Foods Can't Freeze?

by Deborah Taylor-Hough


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One of the most common questions I hear from people who are interested in freezer-meal cooking is: "How do I know what will freeze well, and what won't?"

If you're unsure of how well something will freeze, then freeze a single serving when you prepare the dish for a regular family meal. This way you can check on how well the item holds up to freezing and reheating.

The following lists should give you a good start at identifying potential freezing problems with various food items.

Don't Freeze Well:

  • Greasy foods (they just become greasier)

  • Cake icings made with egg whites

  • Cream fillings and soft frostings

  • Pies made with custard or cream fillings

  • Fried foods (they tend to lose their crispness and become soggy)

  • Fruit jelly on sandwiches may soak into the bread

  • Soft cheese, such as cream cheese (can become watery)

  • Mayonnaise (it separates; use salad dressing instead)

  • Sour cream (it becomes thin and watery)

  • Potatoes cooked in soups and stews (they become mushy and may darken. If using potatoes, cook until barely soft and still firm; then freeze quickly.)

Change During Freezing:

  • Gravies and other fat-based sauces may separate and need to be recombined by stirring or processing in the blender

  • Thickened sauces may need thinning after freezing; thin with broth or milk

  • Seasonings such as onions, herbs and flavorings used in recipes can change during freezing. These are best added during reheating to obtain accurate flavors

  • Vegetables, pastas and grains used in cooked recipes usually are softer after freezing and reheating (Undercook before freezing, or add when dish is reheated)

  • Heavy cream can be frozen if used for cooking, but will not whip

  • Some yogurts may suffer texture changes

  • Raw vegetables lose their crispness, but can be used for cooking, stews, etc.

  • Many cheeses change texture in the freezer. Most hard cheeses turn crumbly (which makes them okay for grating, but not for slicing)

Recipe
(From the book Frozen Assets from Champion Press, Ltd.)

Spaghetti Pie
(6 servings)

This recipe can easily be double, or tripled. The original Spaghetti Pie recipe calls for a full pound of ground beef, but I only use half a pound per pie. I find half a pound to be more than enough. This recipe could also be made with ground turkey, Italian bulk sausage, TVP (texturized vegetable protein), or no meat (or meat substitutes) at all.

6 oz. dry spaghetti noodles
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 well-beaten eggs
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (8-oz.) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes (don't drain)
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, American, or Jack), shredded

Cook spaghetti noodles. Drain. Stir margarine into hot noodles until melted. Stir in Parmesan cheese and eggs. Form pasta mixture into a crust shape in a buttered 9-inch pie plate. In skillet, cook ground beef and onions until meat is browned. Drain. Stir into ground beef, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar , oregano and garlic. Heat through. Spread cottage cheese over bottom of spaghetti crust. Top with tomato/meat mixture. Sprinkle grated cheese over all. Cover pie pan with foil; label and freeze.

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To Serve:

Thaw. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes at 350 F. Remove foil and bake for 5 minutes more until cheese is lightly browned.


Deborah Taylor-Hough is the author of the bestselling Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month and A Simple Choice: a practical guide for saving your time, money and sanity. She also edits the Simple Times email newsletter. To subscribe, visit Debi online at: thesimplemom.wordpress.com.

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