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Mar 14, 2012 01:43 AM

Freezing Food

Tonight I am making meatballs. The recipe (from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything) contains bread crumbs that have been soaked in milk, and Parmesan cheese. I was hoping to freeze the leftover meatballs. I’ve heard that you shouldn’t freeze dairy. Will these meatballs be OK, or should I use an egg and olive oil instead?

I’ve been slowly learning to cook. I only cook for myself, so I’m trying to find meals that can freeze well or be easily adjusted for one person.

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  1. I always freeze dairy. And meatballs. If I'm not sure, I just freeze things anyway and see how it holds up, for future reference. Many times not as good as fresh, but once it's further cooked you won't be able to tell. I always want to freeze something rather than throw it away.

    As a rule of thumb, if you see it in the frozen section of the supermarket, it will freeze fine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: coll

      I guess I’m only cooking for myself, so it can’t hurt to try. Mince is cheap anyway. Thanks for the reply.

    2. Freezing milk/cream by themselves can be a little problematic, but freezing cooked foods containing them is usually no problem.

      1. Ice cream is dairy and freezes pretty well.

        I've never heard of any problems freezing dairy, I've seen plenty of frozen dairy, from cheese to milk and cream. Sure, it might change the structure of it, I'd maybe not want to put frozen milk in my cereal, but I've seen it frozen before it expires and then used in coffee and baking fine.

        That aside, I don't think you'll notice much difference in your meatballs, I think they will be completely fine when reheated. The parm especially will not be a problem, I've experienced frozen parm in ravioli filling and its made no difference.

        1. I wouldn't freeze milk or a block of cheese on it's own, but mixed in meatballs (or lasagna or baked ziti, etc.) it is totally acceptable. At any given time, I always have various types of meatballs in my freezer portioned out for dinners for my kids.

          1 Reply
          1. re: valerie

            Have you ever seen the movie "Mother" with Albert Brooks and Debbie Reynolds? When she takes a huge block of cheese from her freezer - it just kills me.

            As for freezing things that contain dairy... I have never had a problem freezing mac and cheese.

          2. You can freeze milk directly but the fat tends to separate but it won't hurt you. It's possible that the texture could change very slightly even after you have shaken the thawed milk to reincorporate the fat.

            If you are contemplating freezing milk, remember, liquid expands when it freezes so you would need to remove a cup or so for every gallon.

            In short. Feel free to freeze your meatballs.

            It's an excellent idea to cook fairly large quantities of things you eat a lot of and freeze the excess in 1or 2 serving packages especially if you are cooking for one.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Hank Hanover

              Hank notes the problem freezing dairy fairly well. I learned this lesson with a large batch of pesto a number of years ago. The only thing that went wrong with it is the parmesan cheese separated a bit. The pesto was still okay, but it wasn't as good as fresh. The color and texture suffered a lot, and it felt more oily.

              I would imagine if there's any detriment to your meatballs, it might be that the fats in the milk and cheese may separate a bit, making them feel oilier. They'll be fine though, otherwise.

              1. re: Hank Hanover

                My bachelor little brother freezes milk without any loss of flavor or texture, or so he says. He travels frequently and instead of throwing out a half-jug of milk he put it into the freezer and when he returned, he said it was fine after thawing. Cheese is another matter.

                1. re: John E.

                  Milk is fine as long as you shake it, because it separates. I freeze cheap cheese (grocery mozz and cheddar) and it is fine for melting in casseroles or similar.

                  1. re: John E.

                    I've got shredded mozzarella in 1 qt bags in the freezer.