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Foods you can’t freeze

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Some foods thrive in a freezer: granitas and ice-creams would be nothing without a blast of below-zero chilling. Other foods like whole eggs and egg yolks are too delicate and only deteriorate when frozen. Here are just some of the ingredients that it is not wise to freeze.

– Cucumbers, melons, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, apples, lemons and limes – any vegetable with a high water content goes to mush when it is frozen and defrosted. (However, the zest of citrus fruit can be frozen: if your lemons or limes are about to die but their peel is intact, zest it, store it in a freezer bag and use it in stews and soups and desserts).

– Whole eggs just go rubbery if they have been frozen and the shells can crack and bacteria can get in which creates a food safety issue. The solution is to split the egg into egg yolks and egg whites. Freeze the egg whites in plastic bags and defrost them to make meringues. When you freeze the egg yolks, stir a pinch of salt or sugar into them before you freeze (depending on how you will use the egg yolks later: use salt for savoury dishes, sugar if you are going to use them for desserts) – this helps to keep them stable when you defrost them.

– People say that you can freeze fresh herbs, but they don’t thrive in the freezer. Pop a bag of fresh herbs in the freezer and you’ll see – they will be virtually unusable when you go to retrieve them a few days later. If you want to save those herbs, chop them finely, add them to water or wine and pour the liquid into an ice-cube tray. When they are frozen, put them in a freezer bag. Drop a herb ice-cube into soups, stock, risotto or gravy to add flavour. Or add the freshly chopped herbs to a freezer bag of stock and use the stock to make soup. (They somehow seem to survive in the freezer when suspended in a liquid.)

– Soft cheese like ricotta can’t be frozen: it separates. Nor can egg-based sauces like hollandaise, custard or mayonnaise.

– Add cooked pasta to the don’t freeze list – it just goes limp and loses its texture when defrosted.

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