In the fight to save storage space, spare yourself from these freezer failures.

By Laura Fisher
Updated March 31, 2020
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Freezing food is a great way to save money by buying foods on sale or in bulk and then saving for future use. It can also help set your mind at ease in the case of a potential food shortage, or help you hold on to the last vestiges of your mom’s famous Thanksgiving pie or that piece of wedding cake that you’re saving for your anniversary. Certain foods, however, just shouldn’t be frozen, no matter how good your intentions may be. While they won’t harm you if frozen, there are a few items that are definitely at their best when eaten fresh.

In general, it’s important to remember that anything with a high water content will change texture considerably after being frozen. For example, frozen grapes are one of my absolute favorite snacks, especially in the summer. But let those grapes defrost and they become soggy, unappealing lumps. For anything that has a lot of water, it’s best to freeze only if you plan to use in cooking—it just won’t be the same raw. Thawed raw tomatoes are going to be unappetizing on a salad, but can still work well in a sauce. Trust me, trying to preserve the foods below will only result in spoiling your appetite.

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1 Hard Boiled Eggs.

The cooked whites of hard boiled eggs do not translate well to the freezer. You’ll end up with hard, rubbery eggs that no one will touch. You can freeze raw eggs, but it’s better to take them out of their shells and freeze individually in ice cube trays. This is also a great way to preserve egg yolks for later use when making a recipe that only calls for the whites.

2 Cucumbers.

Cucumbers are a prime example of a vegetable so high in water that they become virtually useless once frozen (unless you’re planning on using them in a green smoothie, which I highly recommend). Defrosted cucumbers are a soggy mess, and bear practically no relation to their crisp, fresh origins. If you find yourself with a bounty of cucumbers that you can’t possibly use, you can pickle the cukes and freeze them with the brine.

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3 Mayonnaise.

If you freeze mayonnaise, it will look normal while still in frozen form. However, once it starts to defrost you will notice that the texture of the creamy condiment changes significantly. Mayonnaise is an emulsion typically made of oil, egg yolks, vinegar or lemon, and seasonings. As mayonnaise thaws, that emulsion will break, leaving you with the liquid, acidic ingredients and oil floating on top of the yolk base. While it won’t kill you, melted mayonnaise certainly won’t behave the same spread on a sandwich. You could always try to re-emulsify the mayo using an electric mixer, but you might have to add additional water to help the ingredients come back together, which will result in a thinner sauce.

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4 Lettuce.

Last week, the temperature in my fridge was turned too low and a box of salad greens that was stashed in the back froze over. Desperate to not waste them, I attempted to let the leaves defrost and use them in a salad. The result was a limp and slimy pile. When water (which lettuce contains a lot of) is frozen, it expands. This expansion can damage the cell walls of vegetables, which is why frozen veggies are rarely as crunchy as their fresh counterparts. Lettuce is too delicate to handle this process without turning into complete mush.

5 Soft cheeses.

All cheese will change texture slightly when frozen, but soft runny cheeses (like brie or camembert) will fare far worse than a hard cheese like parmesan. Soft cheeses have a higher fat and water content, so when thawed out, they will become watery and change consistently significantly. It’s best to buy only as much of these delicious cheeses as you can consume in about two weeks.

6 Raw potatoes.

When you go to use the thawed raw potatoes in your cooking, they will become discolored. In some cases they'll actually turn black, which renders them inedible. In the case of a bumper crop of potatoes that need to be preserved, you can freeze cooked spuds that have been blanched, mashed, roasted, or made into hash browns

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