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Foods You Should Not Freeze 

Freezing food has been a go-to preservation technique used by ancient cultures for thousands of years. People who thrived in frozen climates preserved foods by freezing, while those in tropical climates used the sun to dehydrate foods.

A large chest freezer stocked with wrapped meat.

Both techniques have their strengths and weaknesses. The ever-notorious freezer burn changes the flavor and texture of food. While some foods freeze well after you cook them, some don’t. Read on to learn what foods you should not freeze.  

Freezing for Food Preservation

Have you ever wondered if you could freeze milk when your cow’s milk production is high? Is it possible to freeze eggs as a method to preserve eggs when there is an abundance? Are freezer meals like chicken pot pie or easy freezer meatloaf as tasty after being frozen? 

Let’s examine foods you should not freeze and why.

There are several ways to preserve foods for a well-stocked pantry. Freezing food in our deep freezers is another way we beat inflation at the grocery store and eat well on a budget. 

Preparing for inflation with canning 101, dehydrating 101, fermenting 101, root cellaring 101 and freeze-drying with the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer keep our pantry and freezers full with a year’s worth of food for our large family.

Our goal to successfully implement garden planning for serious food production so we can grow a year’s worth of food and preserve it using multiple preservation methods is important for our homesteading lifestyle.

Because freezing is one of these methods in our preservation plan, knowing how to deep freeze foods correctly and knowing foods you should not freeze is vital.

Freezer thermometer up close.

Freezing Safety Tips

Temperatures for safely freezing foods vary depending on the freezer you’re using. Deep freezers should be kept at or below a chilly 0°F (or -18°C.) The refrigerator with a freezer can be 0°F-10°F and keep our favorite homemade vanilla ice cream recipe perfectly frozen.

Deep freezers are made to freeze foods faster and generally have below-freezing temperature gauges. We use deep freezers for our meats, knowing that proper storage and below-zero temperatures will keep our food at optimal levels of preservation for a solid year.  

Two girls harvesting beans.

Why Are Some Foods Not Suitable for Freezing

When frozen, some foods’ quality degrades, and textures can become mushy, limp, and soggy when defrosted and brought to room temperature. 

Food expands when frozen at a cellular level, bursting delicate cell walls and resulting in texture changes. The flavor of the food can be affected, which can be frustrating if you’re trying to get three home-cooked meals on the table every day. 

Improperly wrapped foods subject the food to freezer burn due to oxygen exposure. Water escapes from the food, and it becomes dried out with a grayish, white color changing the flavor and texture, so it’s imperative to wrap or seal your foods before storing them in the freezer.

A white mug of dandelion root tea latte.

Foods You Should Not Freeze 

Do not use trial and error while learning which foods you should not freeze. Instead, follow the guide below to understand why these foods are unsuitable for freezing and other ways to preserve them.

Coffee Beans

Just like in the food you should not freeze dry, coffee beans are also unsuitable for freezing. Freezing coffee beans does not help them stay fresh longer, but instead will deplete the flavor and, at times, absorb the smells in your freezer.

You can store freshly roasted coffee beans at room temperature, sealed in an airtight container away from light for up to a year. And green, unroasted coffee beans can be stored for several years when stored away from moisture or heat.

Beyond that, you can freeze-dry prepared coffee and store it in an airtight container for up to 25 years.

Homesteading Hack: The shelf life of coffee beans shortens after you break the airtight seal. Store your beans in small enough containers after roasting to consume that amount within a week to a month after opening.

Various dairy products sitting on a wooden countertop.

Dairy-Based Foods

Dairy-based sauces or foods made with dairy products, such as; sour cream or cream cheese, tend to separate or curdle when thawed. Eating leftovers for lunch or an evening meal is a budget-friendly alternative. 

Egg Whites – Cooked

Raw eggs or raw egg whites freeze great, but cooked egg whites without the fat in the yolk can become rubbery. Avoid freezing cooked egg whites for long-term storage. Instead, always freeze or freeze dry egg whites while still raw.

Homesteading Hack: Dishes made with whole eggs freeze well, like this egg-based flexible frittata recipe. 

Pan sauce in a white bowl.

Gravies or Sauces

While flour-based gravies and sauces will freeze well, other thickeners (like cornstarch) used in gravies and sauces become watery after being frozen and thawing. The bond weakens between the cornstarch and moisture, and it will be a thinner consistency.

This easy pan sauce recipe whips up so quickly that we don’t find the need to preserve gravy.

Baby greens in a pile.

Lettuce

Lettuce has a high water content. When frozen, the water expands, breaking the cell walls, and your thawed lettuce will become a soggy mess; not a good idea! To preserve lettuce, dehydrate it and make it into this DIY greens powder instead.

Cooked Rice or Pasta

When we have an excess of eggs, we like to make homemade egg noodles from scratch and dehydrate them for preservation. The high starch content in fully cooked pasta and rice appears to freeze well… until you thaw it. 

The fragile cell walls break, and the texture becomes mushy. The end product is flavorless and disappointing, to say the least. Instead of preserving leftover cooked pasta and rice, try a different approach with better meal planning on the homestead.

Low-Fat Fish

Cod, Flounder, Tilapia and Sole are lean fish that don’t have enough fat as an insulator to freeze well, becoming waterlogged when thawed.  

A bowl of mayo with a spoon, cracked eggs and a halved lemon on a counter.

Mayonnaise and Ketchup

The smooth texture of mayonnaise and ketchup is compromised when frozen. However, fermentation is an ideal way to extend the shelf life and increase the nutritional value of mayonnaise and ketchup. 

Try this easy lacto-fermented mayonnaise or this fermented ketchup recipe.

Potatoes in a basket and a bag.

Raw Potatoes

Freezing potatoes raw is not a good idea due to the high starch and water content. When thawed, the potato’s texture becomes grainy and mushy. Using a root cellar to store your potatoes until you are ready to prepare them is the best method to use.

Furthermore, frozen raw potatoes will turn gray or black. This is due to oxidation (when the starches in the potato are exposed to oxygen) and the color is harmless.

Eating black potatoes certainly isn’t appetizing! Therefore, we prefer to freeze dry potatoes instead.

Homesteading Hack: You can freeze cooked potatoes and thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. You can make sweet pepper hash from stored and thawed potatoes in this way.

BONUS: Previously Frozen Meat

Though this doesn’t make the “foods NOT to freeze” list, it’s worth mentioning here! There’s a misconception about refreezing meat. This practice is perfectly safe when your meat is properly thawed in a refrigerator and re-frozen using higher-quality sub-zero freezers. 

Homesteading Hack: Always wrap your meat sufficiently to seal out air and moisture to prevent freezer burn.

A woman lifting jars of canned stew up into a pressure canner.

Mastering Food Preservation

Growing, preserving, and preparing food from scratch is the key to feeding your family healthy whole foods on a tight budget. As young parents, we had this desire, but we didn’t have anyone around us that we could ask about how to make this homesteading thing work. 

This led to years of studying and a lot of hard work to master these skills. We didn’t want others to go through the same struggles we experienced, so we created the Homestead Kitchen Membership.

With your membership, you gain access to in-depth training, practical resources, and a supportive community of like-minded homesteaders to help you start THRIVING in your homestead.

A woman holding up a jar of freeze dried food with filled pantry shelves of home canned food behind her.
A man and wife smiling.

Welcome to Homesteading Family!

Josh and Carolyn bring you practical knowledge on how to Grow, Cook, Preserve and Thrive on your homestead, whether you are in a city apartment or on 40 acres in the country. If you want to increase your self-sufficiency and health be sure to subscribe for helpful videos on gardening, preserving, herbal medicine, traditional cooking and more.

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