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What Happens In Your Freezer (Pt.1)

The freezer has changed food in America and around the world. I’m fascinated with the story of Clarence Birdseye, who discovered that flash-freezing fish was a practical way to ship seafood to distant inland locations. His name became a brand synonymous with many frozen vegetables and cooking staples.
Alas, not everything freezes as well as freshly harvested seafood and vegetables. Here’s a description of foods that freeze badly and what happens. (Source: National Center for Home Food Preservation)

Cabbage, cucumbers --  These become limp, waterlogged and quickly develop an oxidized color, flavor and aroma. These can be effectively frozen as marinated products. However, “freezer slaw” and “freezer pickles” won’t maintain the same flavor or texture as regular slaw or pickles that were not frozen.
Celery, Cress, Lettuce, Parsley, Endive, Radishes – Limp, waterlogged and these also change color, flavor and aroma.
Potatoes, baked or boiled – These become soft, crumbly, waterlogged or mealy.
Cooked macaroni, Spaghetti and Rice – Become mushy, flavor changes (described as Warmed-Over Flavor, or WOF)
Egg whites, cooked – Become soft, tough, rubbery or spongy
Meringue – Soft, tough rubbery or spongy
Icings made with egg whites – Frothy, weepy
Cream or Custard fillings – These separate and become lumpy or watery
Milk-based Sauces – Curdling and separation takes place
Sour Cream – separates, becomes watery
Cheese or crumb toppings – become soggy
Mayonnaise products – separate
Gelatin – weeps
Fruit Jelly (in sandwiches) – seeps into bread
Fried foods (except French Fries and Onion Rings) – Lose crispness, become soggy

Next time: The Atomic Kitchen will look at seasonings, spices and flavors that may change with freezing.


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