Month: April 2018

Bread & Baked Goods

Can You Freeze Buttercream Frosting?

Baking with buttercream? Buttercream made from scratch involves endless whisking so you have to make the most out of the frosting to maximize your effort. What if you have a lot of leftover frosting? Can you freeze buttercream frosting? Excess buttercream is quite common and it is great to know that frosting does freeze well!

It is worth noting, however, that buttercream comes in 5 types. Some of these types of buttercream freeze well better than others. In addition, the five different types of buttercream are prepared in two different ways!

5 Types of Buttercream

American Buttercream

American buttercream has a fluffy and creamy consistency. It is usually pale yellow in color and is a little firmer than most types of buttercreams. Making the buttercream does not require cooking, just a lengthy beating.

French Buttercream

French buttercream has a velvety, rich flavor and a bright yellow hue thanks to the egg-yolk foam. This type of buttercream is the most difficult to make because it requires cooking hot sugar syrup and mixing it into the beaten yolks. You have to keep the mixer running while incorporating the sugar syrup because the heat could cause the egg yolks to scramble! This buttercream doesn’t hold well in warm temperature.

Italian Buttercream

Italian buttercream is made with Italian meringue, which explains its pale yellow or almost white coloring. This buttercream holds up well in warm temperature. making Italian buttercream requires cooking and it involves drizzling hot sugar syrup over an egg foam made only of egg whites.

Swiss Buttercream

Swiss buttercream is a light and fluffy frosting with a glossy finish. This buttercream is made with Swiss meringue. This is one of the easiest buttercreams to make because you don’t have to pour the hot sugar syrup over an egg-based foam.

German Buttercream

German buttercream is a custard-based buttercream with a smooth, rich consistency and a deep yellow color. This buttercream type is usually lighter than American buttercream but you can add more of the custard base for a thicker consistency.

Image used under Creative Commons from Marjolein Knuit

Buttercream Cooking Methods

There are two ways of making buttercream from scratch:

Made with Sweet Base: This preparation involves adding a sweet base, such as custard or pudding, to beaten butter.

Buttercream with Egg Foam Base: This preparation is made by combining cubes of softened butter to an egg foam base or meringue.

The five different types of buttercream can be divided into two cooking methods. American and German buttercreams are made using a sweet base. French, Italian, and Swiss buttercreams are made using an egg foam base.

How to Make Buttercream Frosting

How to Freeze Buttercream Frosting

Freezing excess buttercream frosting is so easy. Just scoop the buttercream into a resealable plastic bag and squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing. Seal, write the storage date then stick in the freezer. Place the buttercream in the coldest spot in your freezer to extend its shelf life.

Do note that freshly made buttercream freezes better than buttercream that’s been left sitting too long at room temperature or in the fridge.

General Buttercream Guidelines

Room Temperature Ingredients

When making the buttercream frosting, always use room temperature ingredients (eggs and butter). This will minimize the risk of separation between ingredients, especially if you are freezing the excess buttercream. By using room temperature ingredients, the buttercream will also come out smoother and hold its texture longer.

Watch the Butter Softness

You have to soften the butter to make the buttercream. However, the softness has to be just right. If the butter is too soft, the consistency of the buttercream will become grainy due to curdling once mixed using the mixer. To achieve the perfect softness, the butter should be melty but not overly greasy. If the surface of the butter has turned oily, it’s too soft. The butter should break off easily into pieces once tossed in the mixer.

Preventing Curdling

Sometimes the buttercream would develop a curdled texture even when you did everything right. This is normal and easily corrected by vigorous mixing. Do not stop when you see the separation between the ingredients; continue mixing until the buttercream is smooth and velvety.

Image used under Creative Commons from Clever Cupcakes

Choosing the Right Sugar

Yes, the kind of sugar you use for the buttercream could affect the frosting’s consistency! Generally, use powdered or confectioner’s sugar when making American buttercream. Powdered sugar dissolves easily into the butter for a smooth, velvety buttercream frosting. When making European buttercream frosting, use sugar syrup made from granulated sugar to achieve the right consistency. Add the sugar slowly to retain the buttercream frosting’s smooth consistency.

Reconstituting Breaking Buttercream Frosting

If for some reason your buttercream frosting breaks as you beat vigorously, there is a way to restore its consistency. Just put the frosting in the fridge and leave it to harden a bit. Then, take the frosting out of the fridge, beat it again using the mixer on high until the buttercream emulsifies. As you beat, continue adding butter gradually. If the buttercream frosting breaks beyond salvation, coat the frosting with crushed nuts after spreading on the cake.

Shelf Life, Thawing and Reheating Suggestions

When kept in the freezer, buttercream frosting will keep fresh for up to 3 months. Thawing the buttercream frosting should be nice and slow. Start by transferring the frozen buttercream frosting in the fridge and leave it to soften overnight.

When you’re ready to frost the cake, take the buttercream frosting out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature. Then, re-whip the buttercream frosting until light and fluffy. Beating still-cold buttercream frosting will result in a grainy, curdled consistency.

If for some reason the buttercream frosting remains grainy, let the frosting sit out for a little bit longer then whip again. To thicken the buttercream frosting, add a tablespoon or two of powdered.

Summary

Making buttercream frosting from scratch is by no means an easy feat but there’s just something about frosting that makes any type of baked goods look and taste even better. Can you freeze buttercream frosting? The good news is, buttercream frosting can be made ahead and frozen for later. As long as you keep these tips in mind, you can make the frosting in advance!

Dish

Can You Freeze Clam Chowder?

Nothing soothes the soul quite like a bowl of piping hot clam chowder! Clam chowder is virtually a complete meal itself although it can be enjoyed as a snack. Can you freeze clam chowder? Although shellfish like clams, which are some of the main ingredients of a clam chowder, is tricky to freeze, it’s possible to store your leftovers in the freezer.

Chowder is a term used for any type of vegetable soups served with a creamy, thick base. Usually, the base is thickened with milk, heavy cream, cheese, flour, or crushed pilot biscuits. Traditionally, clam chowder is made with heavy cream, which is quite sensitive to freezing temperature. In addition, seafood shouldn’t be stored too long in the freezer.

There are several things to consider before freezing any type of cream-based soups. However, as long as the soup has been prepared properly, there is no reason why you shouldn’t whip up a make-ahead batch of clam chowder!

Types of Clam Chowder

Did you know that there are different versions of clam chowder? The ingredients of the clam chowder could affect the soup’s texture and flavor after freezing.

Image used under Creative Commons from Foodista

New England Clam Chowder

This is the ubiquitous version of clam chowder. It’s traditionally made with chopped clams, potatoes, and onions. New England clam chowder has a heavy cream base and butter, which are delicate ingredients. This classic chowder is often served in a sourdough bread bowl

Manhattan Clam Chowder

This is a type of clam stew that originated in New York. Manhattan clam chowder has a thin vegetable broth because the soup doesn’t contain potatoes. The broth is a distinct red shade because of the tomato juice base. Since Manhattan clam chowder does not contain heavy cream and potatoes, it is quite freezer-friendly.

Rhode Island Clam Chowder

This soup originated in the southern coast of Rhode Island. Just like Manhattan clam chowder, Rhode Island clam chowder has a broth base. However, the base is somewhat thicker than Manhattan clam chowder because it contains potatoes. This dish is often made with hard clams called quahogs.

Factors to Consider Before Freezing Clam Chowder

Exclude Delicate Ingredients

As mentioned earlier in this post, clam chowder contains several ingredients that don’t freeze well. These ingredients include the heavy cream, the clams, and the vegetables. In addition, some chowder ingredients will go bad faster than the rest of the ingredients.

If you are making homemade clam chowder, we highly suggest excluding the vegetables (celery and potatoes) during freezing until you are ready to serve. You may exclude the heavy cream although the chowder’s umami taste will not be as pronounced once the heavy cream is added during reheating. Do not be afraid to experiment to prolong the shelf life of the clam chowder. Since you are making the chowder from scratch, you can add or exclude certain ingredients as you see fit.

Preventing Bitterness 

Did you know that certain herbs and spices become bitter once stored in the freezer? Flavor changes are inevitable when you are freezing delicate ingredients so be sure to skip the herbs and spices if needed.

Image used under Creative Commons from Foodista

Preventing Rancidity in Dairy Products

Clam chowder gets its distinct richness and umami flavor from several dairy products. Unfortunately, fats from dairy ingredients could become rancid, which will affect the flavor of the chowder once thawed and reheated. In addition, heavy cream has the tendency to curdle when frozen and thawed. You can either skip the cream until serving the frozen chowder or add more of it to restore the soup’s original texture.

Half-Cooked Vegetables

If you know that you’ll have plenty of leftover clam chowder, do not cook the vegetables all the way through. This goes especially for the celery and the potatoes, they could turn mushy and unpalatable once the frozen clam chowder has been thawed and reheated. If you can, try scooping out all the potatoes from the leftover soup prior to freezing. Then, freeze the chowder and the potatoes in different containers so the texture won’t turn grainy once reheated.

Quick Cooling the Clam Chowder

Quick cooling the clam chowder minimizes the risk of bacterial growth. Since the soup is not left sitting at room temperature for long, pathogens have little time to multiply. To cool the soup quickly, immerse the pot of clam chowder in tap water, making sure the water doesn’t reach the brim of the pot. With a ladle, stir the soup continuously until it cools down.

Shelf Life, Thawing and Reheating Suggestions

When kept in the freezer, clam chowder could last for 4 to 6 months. Always keep the temperature at a steady 0 degrees Fahrenheit so the clams are preserved well. We recommend consuming your supply right away for optimal flavor. Never refreeze thawed clam chowder, its taste and flavor will be altered completely.

Image used under Creative Commons from Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Thawing the clam chowder has to be quick so it’s best to submerge the container in a  basin of hot water. Leave the chowder to thaw into chunks for about 10 to 15 minutes. Pour the thawed chowder into a saucepan then simmer over medium-high heat. Stir the chowder briskly as it melts into a liquid. Brisk stirring will prevent curdling!

At this point, you can add the other ingredients you may have excluded prior to freezing. You can also add more milk or broth to loosen the consistency of the clam chowder. Bring the clam chowder to a boil for a minute then leave to cool down to warm before serving. Do not use the microwave to reheat the frozen clam chowder.

Summary

Can you freeze clam chowder? It’s not the ideal option for preserving leftover clam chowder but freezing works in a pinch! You don’t want to waste a good batch of clam chowder, right? Just keep all these tips in mind so you can prep the chowder well prior to freezing and get great results.

Dairy

Can You Freeze Velveeta Cheese?

Velveeta cheese is a processed cheese product with a soft, smooth texture. It can be enjoyed as is, melted to make cheese sauce or dips, or as an ingredient in sandwiches and finger foods. Can you freeze Velveeta cheese? Technically, you can freeze any type of food, including cheese. However, Kraft, the maker of Velveeta, does not recommend freezing this product at all.

As seen on Kraft’s official Facebook page, the company explicitly warns about the changes that could happen if Velveeta has been frozen:

“We do not recommend that you freeze VELVEETA Pasteurized Process Cheese Product. Freezing VELVEETA Pasteurized Process Cheese Product may cause changes in the texture of the cheese. Crystals may form within the product, which may make it grainy, or its texture to become mushy. Freezing can also break down the ingredients used to make the cheese. This may cause water to form on the surface of the product. Freezing can also negatively impact the flavor.”

How to Freeze Velveeta Cheese?

If say, you are still committed to freezing Velveeta regardless of these changes, it’s surprisingly easy to prep the product for freezing:

Velveeta cheese cubed

Image used under Creative Commons from Donald Durham

Velveeta cheese is sold in blocks packed in cardboard boxes. Regardless if you’re freezing opened or unopened boxes of Velveeta cheese, you have to transfer the product to a freezer-safe container. The original packaging is not freezer-safe at all.

To prep the cheese, take the product out of its original packaging. You can either freeze the cheese as a block or cut a block into cubes so you can divide it into serving portions. Cover the cheese with cling wrap, making sure there are no exposed spots.

Place the wrapped cheese into a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag then squeeze out the excess air. Seal, write the storage date then stick in the freezer. We highly suggest placing the cheese at the back of the freezer. The cheese has to be kept at a steady temperature to reduce texture changes.

If you defrosted the frozen Velveeta cheese, there should not be any leftovers. Never refreeze thawed Velveeta cheese. Frozen Velveeta cheese should only be used in cooking because of the texture changes.

Easy Recipes Using Velveeta Cheese

Since frozen and thawed Velveeta should only be used for cooking, try experimenting in the kitchen using these recipes:

RO*TEL Famous Queso Dip

Velveeta 3-Step Spicy Bacon and Spinach Sliders

Shelf Life, Thawing and Reheating Suggestions

Frozen Velveeta cheese will keep for at least 3 months. But we recommend consuming the cheese as soon as possible to minimize the texture or flavor changes. To thaw the frozen Velveeta cheese, just transfer the product in the fridge. Leave the product to defrost overnight.

Velveeta cheese on the shelf

Image used under Creative Commons from Mike Mozart

Ideally, you should thaw the frozen cheese slowly. But if you are in a hurry, you can use your microwave to defrost and reheat the frozen cheese. Just remove the wrapper and cut the cheese into cubes. Place the cubed cheese in a microwave-safe container then nuke on high in 2 minutes intervals until the cheese is melted completely.

You can also thaw and melt the cheese at the same time by adding Velveeta straight to the dish being cooked. Just whip up a dish as you normally would. Cut the cheese into cubes then add the cheese gradually when the recipe calls for it.

Summary

Can you freeze Velveeta cheese? As long as you are reserving the cheese for cooking, freezing helps extend the shelf life of the cheese. You can use the frozen Velveeta cheese for making dips, classic mac and cheese, and cheese casseroles without worrying about flavor changes.

Dish

Can You Freeze Refried Beans?

Refried beans make a wonderful snack and it makes sense to make a large batch for your next Tex-Mex feast. But can you freeze refried beans? Yes, You can freeze refried beans! The best part? No need to worrying about significant changes in flavor, texture, or nutritional value after freezing the dish! It’s worth noting that all types of beans are freezer-friendly too!

Do note, however, that frozen refried beans will become much thicker than normal after it’s been thawed and reheated. That’s okay. You can restore the original consistency of the dish by adding a little water or olive oil as you reheat it!

Easy (and Freezer-Friendly) Refried Beans Recipe

While you can always buy canned refried beans, nothing beats homecooked refried beans! But if you’d like to try a freezer-friendly recipe, try this one:

You will need:

4 cups cooked pinto beans
¼ cup oil
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. salt

Instructions

This recipe is more freezer-friendly because 1) it doesn’t have butter, milk, or lard and 2) most of the ingredients are dry. You can, of course, season the refried beans with lard or butter when reheating the dish.

You can start by soaking the pinto beans or not soaking them at all, it’s your choice. Pour the beans into a pot of water, season and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the beans are nice and tender, season with salt and drain the water. Mash the cooked blender using a potato masher or a blender until the mixture is thick.

Stir in the spices and the oil until the ingredients are well incorporated. Pour the refried beans in a pot and simmer over medium heat until the liquids are reduced. Turn off the heat and leave the refried beans to cool completely before prepping the dish for freezing.

Image used under Creative Commons from Justin Smith

Cooking Tips and Suggestions

Faster Cooking Time

Pressed for time? Here’s a great hack that will cut the cooking time in half: use canned pinto beans instead of dried beans! Just reheat and mash the canned pinto beans according to the instruction and prepare the dish as you normally would! You’ll be able to finish up in 15 minutes or less!

Creamy Consistency

If you want to give the refried beans a creamy, velvety consistency as well as a richer flavor, add milk instead of water. If you’d rather not add dairy to the dish, swap the water for chicken or vegetable stock!

Keep it Covered

It might be tempting to check the dish as it cooks every few minutes but keep the lid on if you want the refried beans to cook perfectly! This is the kind of dish that needs uninterrupted time to cook. Just leave the dish to simmer until you’ve achieved the perfect consistency (about 2 hours or so)

Robust Flavors

Want to give the refried beans a delectably robust flavor? Add sliced onions and several cloves of garlic to the cooking pot. The amazing flavors and aroma will add dimension to the dish!

Safety

Do note that refried beans may become a hazardous food and is prone to cross-contamination when it is not heated or served properly. For your safety, serve the beans at  140 degrees F to avoid any food-borne illness.

Freezing Leftover Beans

Got leftover beans? If you cook more beans than needed, don’t worry. You can save the rest for later use! Just store the cooked beans in resealable plastic bags, seal, and stick in the freezer. Now you have more cooked beans to use to make more refried beans!

Now if say, you want to give canned refried beans a little tweak, check out this video how:

How to Freeze Refried Beans

How you prep the dish for freezing depends on the state of the refried beans. Homemade refried beans must be prepped carefully to extend its shelf life.

Freezing Homemade Refried Beans

Once the refried beans have cooled completely, prepare several freezer-safe containers. Scoop the refried beans into your desired container. Pour a little oil over the top of the dish to keep it from drying out or developing freezer burns. If you’re using a resealable plastic bag, use a double bag to prevent freezer burns.

Cover the container with a heavy-duty aluminum foil prior to sealing. Remove the excess air then seal. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

Freezing Store-Bought Fried Beans

Store-bought refried beans are usually sold in cans. That means you have to transfer the product in a freezer-safe container prior to freezing. Just open the can, scoop out the product into a rigid plastic container with an airtight lid. Do not fill the container all the way, leave a couple of inches of space in case the dish expands as it freezes.

Pour a little oil over the top of the dish to keep it from drying out or developing freezer burns. Cover the container with a heavy-duty aluminum foil prior to sealing. Seal the container, write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

Image used under Creative Commons from Glory Foods

Shelf Life, Thawing and Reheating Suggestions

Canned refried beans will keep in the freezer for at least 4 to 6 months. This goes especially if the temperature is kept at a steady 0 degrees Farenheight. But for optimal flavor, consume your supply immediately. On the other hand, homemade refried beans should keep in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.

To thaw the frozen refried beans, just leave the dish to thaw in the fridge for several hours to overnight. Once thawed completely, the consistency might be on the watery side, that’s normal. Just stir in a little oil or water to restore the dish’s original consistency. You can reheat the dish on the stove or in the microwave after thawing.

Serve the refried beans immediately and do not refreeze the leftovers. Again, the dish could become a hazardous food once it’s been left sitting at room temperature for hours. If the leftover has been left sitting on the counter within 48 hours, discard it.

Summary

Can you freeze refried beans? It’s great to know that this yummy dish keeps so well in the freezer! Now you can prepare make-ahead refried beans for later use. For best results, keep all the storage tips we’ve outlined in this post in mind when prepping the dish for freezing.

Dessert

Can You Freeze Rice Pudding?

Rice pudding is a satisfying and healthy dish made using milk and white rice. Enjoyed as a dessert or as a side dish, rice pudding is the perfect snack for kids and kids at heart alike! But how long will rice pudding keep? Can you freeze rice pudding?

Milk and rice are quite sensitive to temperature changes so flavor and texture changes are likely when you freeze the pudding. Still, rice pudding keeps surprisingly well in the freezer so no need to worry if you made a large batch. However, if you’d like to maximize the shelf life of the pudding prior to freezing, we’ll be sharing a couple of storage tips later in this post!

Easy Homemade Rice Pudding

Using the freshest ingredients is key to prolonging the shelf life of rice pudding. Here is a simple rice pudding recipe to get you started.

You will need:

1-quart whole milk
1 cup short-grain or long-grain white rice
6 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more as needed
A pinch salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
Chopped nuts, dried or fresh fruits, nutmeg or cinnamon and other toppings

Instruction

Heat a medium saucepan then pour the milk, rice, and sugar. Bring the ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat then season with salt. Stir the mixture well until the sugar has dissolved completely.

After bringing the mixture to a boil, lower the heat to a bare simmer. Leave the saucepan uncovered as you simmer the mixture for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the white rice is nice and tender.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the vanilla or almond extract then add more sugar or salt when needed. Place a ladleful or two in a bowl, add your favorite toppings, and enjoy!

Image used under Creative Commons from Brad Greenlee

How to Freeze Rice Pudding?

Now to prep the rice pudding for freezing, wait until the dish has cooled completely to room temperature. Once the rice pudding has cooled completely, pour the dish into a freezer-safe container with an airtight lid. Leave about two inches of space so the pudding has room to expand while it freezes. Cover the container with cling wrap before sealing with the airtight lid. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

If you are pressed for time, you can accelerate the cooling process by giving the sealed container an ice bath. Just pour the still-warm rice pudding into a freezer-safe container with an airtight lid then cover with cling wrap. Close the airtight lid then submerge the container in ice water. Leave to cool for at least 20 minutes before storing in the freezer. Never re-freeze the thawed rice pudding.

Freezing Tips

Milk Substitutes

Traditionally, rice pudding is made using whole milk. Since whole milk has a short shelf life, freezing the dish for long-term may affect its flavor and texture. To minimize the flavor or texture changes, consider using other milk substitutes such as evaporated milk, coconut milk, or sweetened condensed milk. These milk substitutes may alter the cooking times of the dish so make the necessary adjustments in the recipe.

Type of White Rice

The texture of the rice pudding will also depend on the type of white rice you used for the dish. Short grain white rice yields a more watery consistency while long grain rice makes for a denser, slightly drier pudding.

Exclude the Toppings

If you have leftover rice pudding, do not add the toppings as you prep the dish for freezing because these ingredients will turn bad much more quickly than the rice pudding. Just freeze the toppings in a different container and when you’re ready to serve, sprinkle the thawed toppings over the defrosted rice pudding.

Exclude the Milk

Since milk goes bad quickly, it is possible to prepare the pudding without it to extend its shelf life. Just prepare the rice pudding as you normally would but replace the milk with plain water. Prep the cooled rice pudding for freezing. Once you are ready to serve, reheat the rice pudding on the stove, gradually stirring in the milk until smooth and thick.

Divide into Serving Portions

Want to make thawing frozen rice pudding less of a hassle? Try dividing the leftover rice pudding into serving portions so you don’t have to defrost an entire tub of the dish. Remember, you cannot re-freeze the thawed rice pudding!

Prepare several packets of resealable plastic bags. Pour the cooled rice pudding into each of the resealable plastic bags, making sure to leave a couple of inches of space to let the pudding expand as it freezes. Seal then write the storage date. Store flat in the freezer.

Whenever you are craving for a soothing bowl of rice pudding, take a couple of bags of frozen rice pudding then thaw before reheating!

Image used under Creative Commons from Bex Walton

Shelf Life, Thawing and Reheating Suggestions

Frozen homemade rice pudding will keep in the freezer for at least 3 months. However, we don’t recommend waiting this long before consuming your supply. You have to finish the rice pudding as soon as possible for optimal flavor and texture.

To thaw the rice pudding, just transfer the frozen dish to the fridge. Leave the frozen rice pudding to thaw overnight. Once the rice pudding has thawed completely, it’s ready for reheating unless you enjoy the pudding cold. Never defrost the rice pudding at room temperature. The pudding will go bad much more quickly if thawed this way.

To reheat the pudding, just simmer the dish over low heat in a saucepan. Pour the dish into a bowl, add a handful of toppings and enjoy! You can also reheat the rice pudding in the microwave. Just make sure to place a cup of water before reheating the pudding so it won’t dry up.

Summary

Who knew freezing rice pudding is this easy? Keep our freezing tips in mind if you want to extend the shelf life of the pudding and minimize texture or flavor changes!

Dairy

Can You Freeze American Cheese?

American cheese is a type of processed cheese with so many uses. It’s a kitchen staple that’s best enjoyed in a sandwich but you can also use the cheese for cooking or as a quick snack.

But what if you bought American cheese by bulk, can you freeze American cheese?

Although freezing is not a recommended storage option for American cheese, it can be used to extend the shelf life of the product. American cheese is generally made from semi-soft, processed cheese. Since American cheese has low water content, flavor or texture changes are kept at a minimum. Still, there is a good chance that the cheese could turn brittle, tasteless, or crumbly when frozen.

Is Freezing a Good Idea?

As you know, freezing any type of dairy product is tricky because there’s a good chance that the texture and flavor will be altered after the product has been defrosted. The cheese could turn crumbly, dry, or tasteless if it’s not prepped properly prior to freezing.

Freezer burns are also a concern when freezing any type of cheese. If the product has been packed poorly, ice crystals will start forming on the surface and within the cheese, causing freezer burns. Freezer burns will alter the texture of the cheese.

Since American cheese is heavily processed, it should keep for weeks in the fridge with no problems at all. The preservatives will extend the shelf life of the cheese, which means freezing isn’t necessary. That being said, you can freeze American cheese if left with no choice. Do note, however, that the frozen cheese should be strictly used in cooking.  If you’re not planning to use the cheese for cooking, do not freeze it.

can you freeze American cheese

Image used under Creative Commons from Jonathan Lin

How to Freeze American Cheese?

American cheese is often sold in individually packed slices, pre-sliced block to slabs. You can prep the cheese in different ways for optimal flavor:

Freezing American Cheese Slices

Freezing American cheese is easy because the product itself is packed in a freezer-safe packaging. In addition, the slices of cheese are packed individually so prepping the product for freezing is down to a minimum.

If you bought American cheese in bulk, leave the cheese that you’d like to freeze unopened for optimal freshness. Just place the packs of sliced American cheese in a freezer safe bag then squeeze as much air as you can before sealing. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

If say, you are worried that the plastic wrapping will stick to the cheese slices after thawing, you could remove the packaging first prior to freezing. Just unwrap the cheese slices one by one and then layer them with a piece of waxed paper in between each slice. Place the cheese slices in a double layer of freezer-safe resealable plastic bags. Squeeze out the excess air then seal. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

Freezing Pre-Sliced American Cheese Blocks

Unopened packs of pre-sliced American cheese blocks are easy to freeze. Just place the product in a freezer-safe container, write the storage date then stick in the freezer. For leftover blocks of cheese, wrap the leftover cheese in aluminum foil then place the cheese in a double bag. Squeeze out the excess air, seal then write the storage date.

Freezing American Cheese Slabs

Unless you have a walk-in freezer, we recommend dividing the block of American cheese into manageable portions prior to freezing. This way, thawing the cheese won’t be as inconvenient.

Using a sharp knife, cut the cheese into smaller pieces (no larger than a ½ pound each), the size will depend on the capacity of your freezer. Wrap the pieces of cheese in cling wrap then placer them in a freezer safe double bag. Squeeze out the excess air, seal then write the storage date.

Freezing Grated American Cheese

Yes, you can grate blocks of cheese prior to freezing. This is a great option if you’d like to divide a large slab or block of cheese into manageable portions. We do, however, recommend consuming the grated cheese as soon as possible. Leaving the grated cheese in the freezer for months on end could cause the product to turn brittle due to the freezing temps.

Start by cutting the cheese block in two. Using a grater, grate the cheese by hand. Prepare a couple of freezer-safe resealable plastic bag and spoon the grated cheese into the bag. Squeeze the excess air then seal. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

can you freeze American cheese

Image used under Creative Commons from opacity

Shelf Life, Thawing and Reheating Suggestions

Frozen American cheese will keep for 3 months and beyond in the freezer. However, we do not recommend waiting this long before consuming your supply. Use the cheese as soon as possible for optimal flavor. To reiterate, frozen and thawed American cheese should be strictly used for cooking. You can use the cheese for making soups, casseroles, and sauces.

To thaw the frozen American cheese, simply transfer the container to the fridge. Leave the cheese to thaw overnight. Once the cheese has been thawed completely, you can cut it into the desired portions and add to the dish directly, no reheating needed.

Summary

Can you freeze American cheese? It’s great to know that you can freeze American cheese with ease and avoid waste! Just keep these storage tips in mind to retain the taste and quality of the cheese!

Vegetables

Can You Freeze Cooked Cabbage?

Cabbage is a nutritious, delicious vegetable that keeps so well in the fridge. But what about keeping cooked cabbage in the freezer? Can you freeze cooked cabbage? Freezing is not recommended for storing any type of fresh leafy vegetable. Cabbage, in particular, is quite delicate because it is mostly made up of fibrous membranes with high water content. Freezing this vegetable raw could alter its texture.

The good news is, it is possible to freeze cabbage with little to no flavor or texture changes as long as it is cooked. Or at the very least, blanched. Cooking the cabbage makes the vegetable resistant to freezing temperatures.

Different Types of Cabbages

There are different types of cabbages, some freeze better than others:

Green Cabbage

Green cabbage is the most popular type of cabbage and is best used in cooking. It is used in a variety of cooking including stir-frys and slaws.

Red Cabbage

Red cabbage has a deep red to almost violet hue. This type of cabbage is just as popular as green cabbage but is best utilized in slaws and raw salads.

Savoy Cabbage

Savoy cabbage has a distinctive wrinkled or patterned leaves and a medium to light green hue. It is often used for cooking. Savoy cabbage is a seasonal vegetable so it is not always readily available. This cabbage is perfect for stir-frys and soups.

Bok Choy

A mainstay in Chinese cooking, bok choy is distinct for its fleshy stems and deep green leaves. Since bok choy is quite hardy and fibrous, it should be steamed first before adding to any recipe.

Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Verch

Picking the Perfect Cabbage for Cooking and Freezing

The quality of the cabbages prior to cooking does affect its shelf life after the product has been frozen and defrosted. That’s why it is important to choose the freshest produce for freezing. Choose cabbages with dense, solid heads. The leaves should be fresh and green. Avoid cabbages with wilted or yellowing leaves or browned edges.

For store-bought cabbages, check the label to gauge the freshness. Usually, the cabbages are harvested at the peak of ripeness and stored in warehouses for several days before being sold at your local supermarket. If you want the freshest produce possible, buy cabbages from your local farmer’s market. Ask the vendors when the heads were picked to check for freshness. If you are harvesting cabbages from your own garden, do it during the early morning before the day gets too hot. Wait until closer to frost before harvesting the cabbages for optimal freshness.

Prepping the Cabbages for Blanching

Blanching is the perfect way to prep any type of vegetable prior to freezing because it locks in the nutrients and enhances the natural color of the produce. But you have to be careful when blanching delicate veggies because you might overcook them.

To prep the cabbage for blanching, wash the heads thoroughly. Remove aphids, beetles, caterpillars and other critters that are hiding under the leaves. Soak the cabbages in a salt and water solution for half an hour just to make sure the cabbages are free of bugs. After soaking the cabbage, rinse well with plain water.

Peel off any yellowing leaves then cut the cabbage in quarters using a sharp knife. Do not remove the core because it will hold the leaves during blanching. Pat the cut cabbage heads with paper towels. It is now ready for cooking or blanching.

To blanch the cabbage, fill a large stockpot with water then bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, add the quartered cabbage heads using a colander. Blanch the vegetable for one and a half minutes.

After blanching, you have to give the vegetable an ice bath. This will stop the cooking process while locking in the color of the produce. Using the colander, collect the quartered cabbage heads and submerge in iced water. When the cabbage has cooled completely, take it out of the ice bath and shake off the excess water.

Image used under Creative Commons from Philippe Put

How to Freeze Cooked Cabbage?

Be sure to pat the blanched cabbage dry prior to packing to prevent freezer burns. Place the blanched cabbage on a cookie sheet then stick in the freezer to flash freeze. Leave the vegetable to freeze for an hour or two. Once the cabbage is frozen, transfer the vegetable to freezer-friendly plastic bags. Squeeze out the excess air, seal the bag then write the storage date. Place the cabbage in the freezer and you’re done.

Freezing Cabbage Rolls

Got leftover cabbage rolls? Since the cabbage has been cooked thoroughly prior to making the rolls, you have to prep the dish for freezing. Otherwise, the cabbage rolls will turn into a soggy, soupy mess! If you’re making the rolls from scratch and you are anticipating a lot of leftovers, try freezing the filling and the cabbage separately. This way, the sauce won’t make the vegetable soggy.

On the other hand, if you are freezing leftover cabbage rolls, you want to freeze the dish slowly. Start by chilling the leftovers in the fridge for several hours to overnight. Place the dish in a freezer-friendly container beforehand so you don’t have to transfer the rolls once you’re ready to freeze. When the rolls are nice and chilled, transfer the container to the freezer.

Freezing Fried Cabbage with Bacon

This is another popular cabbage-based dish that’s a cinch to prepare and freeze for later!

Simply prepare the dish as you normally would then leave it to cool completely. Do not cook the cabbage all the way through for minimal texture changes after defrosting. Once the dish has cooled completely, spoon it into several resealable plastic bags. Squeeze out the excess air then seal. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

Freezing Cabbage Soup

Yes, it’s quite possible to freeze cabbage soup for later enjoyment. Just make sure the soup has cooled completely when preparing it for freezing.

If you have a lot of leftovers in your hand, prepare several rigid plastic containers with an airtight lid. Using a ladle, transfer the soup into the containers but do not fill the containers completely. The liquid will expand as it freezes so leave about an inch or two of space when prepping the soup for freezing.

Once you’re done, close the lid, make sure it is sealed completely then write the storage date. Stick in the freezer and you’re done.

Image used under Creative Commons from ripplestone garden

Shelf Life, Thawing and Reheating Suggestions

When kept in the freezer, cooked cabbage will keep to about a year or more especially if the freezing temperature is kept at a steady 0 degrees.

Thawing cooked cabbage – or any type of frozen vegetable for that matter – has to be slow. Never thaw the cooked cabbage or dish at room temperature because this will affect the texture and flavor of the vegetable. Simply place the frozen vegetable in the fridge to thaw overnight.

Once the cooked cabbage has been thawed completely, you can start reheating the dish in the microwave or on the stove.

Summary

Can you freeze cooked cabbage? Of course, you can! As long as you prepped the vegetable properly prior to freezing, you can extend the shelf life of the cooked vegetable.

Dairy

Can You Freeze Nacho Cheese Sauce?

Nacho cheese sauce and chips make a knockout pair because life is infinitely better with cheese! But what if you made too much cheese sauce? Can you freeze nacho cheese sauce? Dairy products are quite tricky to freeze and nacho cheese sauce is no exception. When done the wrong way, the end product is a runny, unappetizing mess. But when done right, you can enjoy the cheese sauce for months.

So the quick answer is yes, you can freeze nacho cheese sauce successfully! However, homemade cheese sauce tends to have a much shorter shelf life than its store-bought counterpart. That’s something to keep in mind when making the cheese sauce from scratch.

Easy Nacho Cheese Sauce Recipe

Homemade nacho cheese sauce is superior to store-bought cheese dip in flavor and quality so go ahead and make your own using the finest ingredients! Try this easy nacho cheese sauce recipe:

You will need:

¼ cup melted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-teaspoon all-purpose flour
3 cups cold pasteurized milk
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon ground dried chipotle pepper
¼ teaspoon ancho chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper salt to taste
½ pound sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
¼ pound Muenster cheese, shredded

Instructions

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat then sprinkle 3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon of flour. Whisk the ingredients for 3 to 4 minutes or until smooth and thick. Pour the cold milk into the mixture gradually, whisking constantly until the ingredients are incorporated well. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes but continue stirring.

Add the paprika, ground chipotle, ancho chili powder, cayenne pepper, and salt, stir well then reduce the heat to low. Then, add a handful of the sharp Cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, and Muenster cheese at a time while stirring constantly. Once all the cheeses are added to the mixture, stir the sauce until smooth. Season with salt to taste, leave to cool down then serve!

Image used under Creative Commons from jeffreyw

How to Freeze Nacho Cheese Sauce?

As you can see, nacho cheese contains different cheeses so you are running the risk of separation between the ingredients if you froze the sauce improperly. Good thing prepping the cheese sauce for freezing is easy!

Freezing Homemade Nacho Cheese Sauce

If you intend to make the cheese sauce in advance for freezing, leave the sauce to cool completely first. Once the sauce has cooled down completely, transfer the sauce in an airtight container. You can either use a rigid plastic container with an airtight lid or a resealable plastic bag. When pouring the sauce, leave about an inch of space or two. This way, the sauce could expand without leaking. Seal the container then wrap in another resealable plastic bag. Write the storage date then stick the sauce in the freezer.

Freezing Store-Bought Nacho Cheese Sauce

Store-bought nacho cheese sauce is often sold in sealed glass bottles so you have to transfer the product in a freezer-safe container prior to freezing. Spoon the product into a resealable plastic bag or a plastic container with an airtight lid. Do not fill the container completely, leave about an inch or two of space. Seal the container then wrap in another resealable plastic bag. Write the storage date then stick the sauce in the freezer.

Freezing Tips

Freezing is a great way to preserve cheese sauce but to retain the quality of the sauce, consider these tips:

Store at a Steady 0 degrees

Generally, dairy products are tricky to freeze because you run the risk of altering the taste or consistency of the product. The cheese sauce is no different. To extend the shelf life of the nacho cheese sauce in the freezer, keep the temperature at a steady 0 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature inhibits bacterial growth that could otherwise cause the product to go bad. The steady temperature also protects the cheese sauce from contamination.

Divide into Serving Portions

Defrosting a massive slab of nacho cheese sauce can be impractical unless you’re throwing a huge party. To save yourself the hassle, divide the cheese sauce into serving portions prior to freezing. There are many ways to do this but our favorite involves using ice cube trays.

Just scoop the product into your desired container and freeze the cheese sauce for two hours or more. Once the cheese is frozen solid, pop the cheese sauce squares out and place them in a resealable plastic bag. Bring the bag of frozen cheese sauce squares back in the freezer. Just pop a couple in the microwave when you’re ready to serve!

Use Pasteurized Milk

When making nacho cheese sauce at home, do not use powdered milk or ordinary milk. These milk products may turn rancid much more quickly. Defrosting the cheese sauce with ordinary milk or powdered milk increases the risk of cross-contamination too. If you’re making a large batch of nacho cheese sauce, use pasteurized milk. Pasteurized milk is free from contaminants that could either shorten the shelf life of the sauce or cause sickness.

Double Bag

It’s best to use a double bag to store the cheese sauce to prevent freezer burns. Using two freezer-safe bags prevents leakage too.

Image used under Creative Commons from jeffreyw

Shelf Life, Thawing and Reheating Suggestions

Homemade nacho cheese sauce should keep in the freezer for six months or more if the temperature is kept at a steady 0 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, store-bought nacho cheese sauce will keep beyond the six-month mark. However, we recommend consuming the sauce as soon as possible. Regardless if you are using homemade or store-bought sauce, the quality of the product will degrade the longer it is kept in the freezer.

To thaw the frozen cheese sauce, transfer the product to the fridge and leave to defrost overnight. Once the cheese sauce thaws, the milk fats might clump together, leading to a clumpy, watery consistency. Give the sauce a quick mix to incorporate the ingredients together. To reheat, pop a portion of the sauce in the microwave then nuke for a minute or more. You can also simmer the cheese sauce over low heat then serve.

Summary

Can you freeze nacho cheese sauce? As you can see, making, freezing, and defrosting nacho cheese sauce can be done easily! With these tips, you can freeze a large batch of cheese sauce and store the rest for future snacking!

Dessert

Can You Freeze Pecan Pie?

Holidays are meant to be enjoyed with foods that take us back to simpler times, such as good ol’ pecan pie! Whether homemade or store-bought, nothing beats a good slice of pecan pie! But what if you have leftovers? Can you freeze pecan pie?

Why Should You Freeze Pecan Pie?

Pecan pie can be frozen although it will be tricky to do so. For one thing, the pie has an egg-based filling, which is sensitive to freezing temperature. Freezing is not the best storage method for pecan pie but it is better than letting the pie sit at room temperature for hours on end.

Pecan pie makes a wonderful make-ahead dessert. Making the pie ahead of time and freezing it for later will save you more time. This works great if you’re pressed for time hosting a party or an intimate get-together. With servings of pecan pie in the freezer, you can make yourself a delicious snack, any time of the day.

Image used under Creative Commons from Stuart Mudie

How to Freeze Pecan Pie?

How you prep the pie for freezing will depend on several factors such as the state of the baked goods prior to freezing. Here are ways to freeze pecan pie:

Homemade Pecan Pie

Homemade pecan pie does not contain artificial preservatives so its shelf life is shorter than store-bought pies. When freezing homemade pecan pie, or any pie for that matter, you should always prep the crust the right way. If not, the crust could turn soggy once the pie has been defrosted and reheated!

Prepare the pie as you normally would. After baking, leave the pie to cool completely on a cooling rack before prepping for freezing. Wrap the pie tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Make sure the pie is covered completely to prevent freezer burns. Write the storage date on the label then stick the pie in the freezer.

Store-Bought Pecan Pie

Generally, store-bought pecan pie has a longer shelf life compared to its homemade counterparts so you can chill the pie in the fridge. But if you want to store the pie in the freezer, you have to wrap the product tightly using aluminum foil. Then, place the wrapped pie in a resealable plastic bag to protect it from freezer burns. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

Freezing Tips and Tricks

Freeze the pie immediately after cooling

If you made more pies than you can handle and you know that you will store some of it in the freezer, do not leave the pies sitting at room temperature for too long. Egg-based fillings tend to go bad much more quickly at room temperature. The chances of bacterial growth and contamination are high if you leave the pies unattended for hours. Our advice is to prepare the pies for freezing the second they cooled down completely after baking.

Exclude the toppings

A slice of pecan pie isn’t complete without a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. If you’re freezing the pie, exclude these topping. Dairy products do not freeze well. In addition, ice cream and whipped cream could cause soggy crust after defrosting. Add the vanilla ice cream or whipped cream only when you’re ready to serve.

Opt for premade filling

This tip involves making and baking the crust in advance, then freezing it first. Then, create the filling a day before serving the pie and leave it to chill in the fridge. Thaw the pie crust completely, pour the pre-made filling and bake. It takes more effort to freezing pecan pie this way but here us out: if you really want to retain the quality of the pie after thawing, this is the best option.

Image used under Creative Commons from Pete Markham

What Happens When You Freeze Pecan Pie?

This depends on how you prepped the pie prior to freezing. Assuming that you prepped the pie properly, reheating won’t cause the crust to turn soggy. The filling won’t take on an odd texture or flavor.

On the other hand, if the crust is still moist after baking or the filling seeped through the crust prior to freezing, there is a good chance that the crust will become soggy after thawing. This cannot be corrected.

Once the pie has been frozen and thawed, you cannot refreeze the product. Refreezing and defrosting the pie a second time will cause the ingredients to degrade. There will be noticeable changes in the texture and flavor too.

Shelf Life and Thawing Suggestions

Frozen pecan pie will keep for two months or more in the freezer. However, we don’t recommend waiting this long before consuming the pie to minimize any flavor or texture changes. To thaw frozen pecan pie, just transfer the pie to the fridge. Leave the pie to thaw completely before reheating.

How to Tell if Pecan Pie has Gone Bad?

At a glance, you can tell if the pie is no longer safe to eat. If it looks off or overly mushy, it may have gone bad. Check for any off-smelling aroma or the appearance of mold. If it starts smelling funky or you’re seeing the presence of mold, discard the pie.

Summary

Pecan pie makes a delightful finish to any meal. But can you freeze pecan pie? As long as you followed the tips we’ve outlined in this guide, there is no reason why you shouldn’t store the pie in the freezer.

Salads

Can You Freeze Chicken Salad?

A special meal or a BBQ is not complete without a heaping bowl of chicken salad! It’s a quintessential dish that’s wholesome, healthy, and of course, delicious. But what if you made too much chicken salad? Can you freeze chicken salad?

If say, you overestimated the food you serve or you simply want to stock up on chicken salad, we’re happy to report that this dish keeps well in the freezer. However, prepping the dish is critical to the longevity of chicken salad in the freezer!

Factors to Consider Before Freezing Chicken Salad

Chicken salad contains mayonnaise and other ingredients that could separate or turn rancid much more quickly than the chicken meat. In addition, chicken salad contains crunchy vegetables, such as scallions and celery, which are quite sensitive to freezing temperatures.

Image used under Creative Commons from Kathy Maister

If say, you intentionally made a large batch of chicken salad, divide the servings between portions that you’ll serve and portions you’ll freeze. For portions that you have to freeze, hold the mayonnaise until you are ready to serve. Mayonnaise is not a great candidate for freezing and adding it before freezing the salad will only affect the integrity of the dish. You can add the mayo a few minutes before serving, just as the salad thawed completely.

It’s also worth noting that mayo substitutes, such as whipped salad dressing, pesto, olive oil, and mustard, freezes better than mayonnaise. These subs will not clump when frozen and thawed. If you want to freeze the salad as is, using whipped salad dressing should simplify the prep process.

How to Freeze Chicken Salad?

Chicken Salad with Mayonnaise

If you’re committed to storing a traditionally-made chicken salad, one that’s made with mayo, you can. Just prepare the salad as usual. Once you’re ready to prep, prepare several freezer safe containers with an airtight lid. You can also use resealable plastic bags. Scoop the salad into the container (according to your desired portion then squeeze as much air as you can before sealing. Write the storage date then place the chicken salad in the freezer.

Chicken Salad without Mayonnaise

If say, you’d like to use any of the mayo subs we’ve outlined previously, prepare the salad as you normally would then prep for freezing.  Scoop the salad into your choice of a freezer-safe container then remove as much air as possible before sealing. Write the storage date then place the chicken salad in the freezer.

On the other hand, if you want to exclude the mayonnaise (along with the greens) until the salad has been thawed, do not add this ingredient prior to freezing. Just prep the chicken meat and season it. Refer to the freezing preps outlined above.

Once you are ready to serve, thaw the seasoned chicken meat then add a dollop of mayo. Chop fresh celery and scallions, mix them with the rest of the salad then serve.

Image used under Creative Commons from Foodista

Shelf Life and Thawing Suggestions

Frozen chicken salad will keep in the freezer for three months or more. However, we highly suggest consuming your supply as soon as possible for optimal flavor. To defrost, just transfer the frozen chicken salad in the fridge and leave the dish to thaw overnight. If the consistency of the salad turned watery, give it a good whip until the ingredients are well mixed. You can also add a tablespoon of the dressing/mayonnaise to achieve a thicker consistency.

If you are in a hurry, submerge the container into a bowl of tap water. This trick should thaw the frozen chicken salad much more quickly. Of course, you have to make sure that the container is tightly sealed so water will not seep into the dish.

Avoiding Contamination

Chicken salad with mayonnaise is highly perishable and prone to contamination so keep food safety in mind before freezing and prior to serving.

For the homemade chicken salad, we suggest freezing the dish on the day it is made. You can also chill the homemade salad in the fridge first prior to freezing. Never let the salad sit at room temperature for long because the mayonnaise could go bad.

As for the commercially made chicken salad, you have to freeze the product as soon as you opened it. If the salad has been left sitting for hours at room temperature or has been transported without refrigeration do not bother freezing it. The risk of contamination is too great.

How to Tell if Chicken Salad has Gone Bad?

It’s easy to tell if the chicken salad is no longer safe to eat. If the dish has turned abnormally mushy or it is giving off an odd aroma after thawing, the salad has gone bad. If it’s watery but there is no difference in flavor or aroma, it is still safe to eat.

Summary

Can you freeze chicken salad? Yes, you can freeze chicken salad, with or without mayonnaise! Freezing chicken salad is easy but certain factors have to be considered so you do not ruin a batch. Remember, you have total control over the ingredients so you can always add sensitive ingredients until you are ready to serve.