Q&A Lists of Foods that Freeze Well, Poorly and Badly

Some foods freeze 'Well', others are moderately affected by freezing and thawing and so they rate as 'Poor'. Some foods should be 'Avoided', as they just don’t cut it and end up a mushy, soggy mess when thawed. Many dairy foods separate when they are frozen and thawed., making then unusable.

That said, freezing has many advantages for food that are suitable:

Some foods do, some foods don't - Freeze well that is. Discover the differences here
Some foods do, some foods don't - Freeze well that is. Discover the differences here. Source: Pixabay Free Images. Public Domain

This article provides guidelines to help you discover which foods are

GOOD for freezing,

POOR for freezing with some loss of quality when thawed. There are some preparation tips which helps reduce the loss of flavor

AVOID Freezing - You should avoid freezing these foods which become degraded and unappealing when frozen and thawed. Most of these foods have high water contents and the ice crystals that form shatter the texture and form of the fresh food, tuning it into sloppy mush.

Stocking up the freezer with Vegetables pre-packed for use
  is a great idea, especially for seasonal varieties
Stocking up the freezer with Vegetables pre-packed for use is a great idea, especially for seasonal varieties. Source: Pixabay Free Images. Public Domain
A well-stocked freezer
A well-stocked freezer. Source: Pixabay Free Images. Public Domain

Tips for Knowing When a Food is Suitable for Freezing

Freezing seldom improves the taste, color or texture of the food. If the food doesn't taste good fresh, or it is stale and of poor quality it won’t get any better after freezing and thawing. The possible exception is curries and stews when the freezing softens the meat and tends to blend the tastes together. Mostly the food will have less taste or a slightly different taste. Freezing changes the texture of most food and also dull the color and sparkle of fresh food. However, sometimes the frozen ingredient will be added to a dish where the changes don't matter as much. For example, frozen garlic will usually get chopped or crushed before it is added to the dish.

  1. Freezing any raw food with a high moisture content such as think cucumbers, lettuce, watermelon, tomatoes, oranges and pears is only worthwhile if you DON'T intend to eat these foods RAW when thawed. The moisture in the food forms ice crystals that smash the structure of these foods into mush. So, only consider freezing these foods when they are going to chopped or processed in a way that the loss of texture and form does not matter.
  2. Anything creamy, particularly dairy products such as custards, soft cheese, yogurt, butter, sour cream freeze very poorly. When frozen and thawed they separate into curds and whey and they become lumpy and insipid. Freezing these foods is never a good idea.
  3. Whole eggs and anything with an external shell of container will chatter when frozen as the liquid expands in volume as it freezes. This applies to bottles and any sealed containers filled with liquids or solids with a high water content.
  4. There are many preparations which make freezing of difficult items work. Don't forget to blanch your vegetables. Many types of food freeze poorly when whole, but work quite well when cut into smaller pieces. This applies to many fruits such as peaches and pears. Chopped vegetables also generally freeze well. Fruits purees and juices freeze very well. Many herbs freeze poorly when whole, but work well when frozen in ice cubes. Expect some loss of texture, but this is less important is a prepared dish with many other ingredients. Learn more of these tricks in the article below.
  5. Remember, these principles apply to individual foods frozen by themselves as whole items. The issue changes entirely when these foods are mixed with other ingredients in a dish. Similarly most chopped, pureed and juiced foods and ingredients will freeze well.
Foods that Freeze Well
Foods that Freeze Well. Source: Pixabay Free Images. Public Domain
Recommended Maximum Storage Times for Frozen Foods
Recommended Maximum Storage Times for Frozen Foods. Source: Pixabay Free Images. Public Domain

Guide for Thawing

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For normal defrosting, the USDA recommends three ways it considers safe:

The best option is overnight slow defrosting in the refrigerator. For a quicker thaw the item can be securely wrapped and immersed in cold water on a bench top. But, make sure the water stays cold during the process. Change it every 30 minutes. If the water gets warm the food will get warm and will start to deteriorate. If using the microwave to defrost, you should aim to cook the thawed food immediately as some of the the food will be warm when you finish. The disadvantage of microwave thawing is that the food may be partially cooked by the microwaving. The thawing may be uneven with some inner parts still frozen. This may make it hard to cook the food evenly.

List of Foods that Do Not Freeze Well

Foods unsuitable for freezing
Foods unsuitable for freezing. Source: Pixabay Free Images. Public Domain

Vegetables => Celery, cucumbers, potatoes (especially raw), lettuce, onions, peppers (especially green), radishes, sprouts, salad greens, kale, leeks, zucchini.

Fruit => Apples, grapefruit, grapes, peaches, plums, lemons, limes, oranges (but citrus is OK), watermelon

Dairy => Cheese (especially soft varieties), mayonnaise, sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, custard, salad dressings, yogurt

Herbs => Unsuitable (but see note below) if frozen alone in sprigs as they will wilt and become mushy: basil, parsley, chives, and most other soft herbs.

Other => Whole eggs in shells, crumb toppings on baked dishes and casserole, frostings, meringue, egg white and cream based sauces and topping, fried foods, pasta, rice, sauces (especially those made with flour or cornstarch).

Tips for Freezing Vegetables and Herbs

Foods that Freeze Well, Poorly and Foods to Avoid Freezing

Below is a tool to help you get information on the freezing suitability for most foods. The color key used is:

GOOD for freezing,

POOR for freezing,

AVOID Freezing, generally unsuitable

Scroll through the list or enter a food name in the search tool and the information for that food will be displayed.

Search Tool - Enter Items to check for Freezing Suitability