There are a multitude of reasons why we freeze prepared food. Maybe we just made a batch way too big and are left with a bunch of leftovers. Or sometimes we would like to prep ahead for big family gatherings.
This brings us to one of the easiest, yummy, and satisfying dishes that are – hands-down – a favorite all over the world – the potato salad.
Admittedly, many of us can prepare more potato salad than what can be consumed because this staple is one of the ultimate comfort foods in hearty menus, no matter what the occasion is.
So, in case we need to – can we freeze potato salad?
Yes, we can freeze potato salad. The ingredients used when preparing it make it more or less freezer friendly. The Golden Rule of Thumb when freezing potato salad is keeping it as simple as possible.
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Not All Potato Salads Are Equal
Many vegetables we can just peel, chop, wash and drain then chuck in a bag then stick them in the freezer. This is not the case with the all-revered potato.
In itself, the potato basically is composed of a lot of starch and water that may crystallize when frozen. When you do cook a potato, some of these basic components might change slightly.
It is noteworthy that some types of potatoes are more freezer-friendly than others.
Best potato types to freeze
In general, the most ideal potatoes to freeze are those of the red and Yukon variety.
The popular Russet potato is trickier to freeze. So, when you are anticipating a surplus of potato salad, try to purchase reds or Yukon’s.
If you are unsure what potato you are buying, just keep in mind that the waxy potatoes make for better salads and keep longer as well.
These types of potatoes tend to keep the shape of the wedges better since they contain less starch.
Other ingredients used matter when freezing a potato salad
The components of your potato salad also matter greatly on the “freeze-ability” of your dish.
There are tons of recipes that we follow – be it a simple oil or based dressing, the addition of eggs, meat or seafood as well as other vegetables into the mix.
It is best to stick to the basics – salt, pepper, and herbs. If using oils and mayo, commercially prepared ones are actually better if you intend to freeze them as they keep better and last longer.
Unknown to many, how we cook the potatoes from the start affect how we can store them.
For a potato salad especially, we mustn’t put our potatoes in boiling water. Instead, it is recommended that we place the potatoes in a pot of cold or tap water, add salt then boil over high heat.
Once you see the tiny bubbles crown on top, you can decrease the heat to a simmer until they are soft enough to piece with a fork.
This way, they become firm enough to freeze, yet soft enough to eat. And perfect to go with reheated chicken wings.
How to Freeze Your Potato Salad Properly
Place your potato salad in a freezer-safe container, whether a plastic container or bag. The key is to make sure that you do not pack it to the brim and make sure it is airtight. This ensures allowance for the food to expand in the process of freezing.
Thawing is Crucial
Success in recycling frozen potato salad lies much on how you thaw it. We don’t want to have to go to all that trouble in storing the dish properly then end up with a bowl of wet, soggy, and mushy salad.
How do we do it? There are two simple ways.
1. Refrigerator Thawing
When you are planning to serve potato salad and you have at least a 24-hour leeway, you can do refrigerator thawing.
Just move your frozen potato salad package from the freezer to any level in the refrigerator – as long as your internal fridge temp is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Just let it sit and defrost!
2. Cold Water Thawing
Sometimes, we do get food emergencies and we need to include that frozen bag of potato salad on the table in less than 24 hours. There is no time to let it sit leisurely on the fridge shelf.
What we do now is place our frozen potato salad in a leak-proof container or bag If you want to use the original container that you froze it with, do check for any cracks or leaks.
Take a bowl big enough to accommodate the size of the entire package and fill with cold water from the sink.
Let your frozen potato salad sit in it for at least 30 minutes then drain the water and refill with the cold tap water.
This might be a tad tedious but it will thaw the potato salad quicker. Repeat this process until it becomes fully thawed.
Again, it must be stressed that your potato salad must be in a leak-proof package to avoid contamination.
Don’t leave the soaked potato salad package too long that the water temperature gets warm or you will allow for bacterial growth. Due diligence is needed!
Other things to have in mind when defrosting your potato salad, to make sure you do it the right way:
- Never leave or defrost a potato salad with mayo, tartar sauce or egg components on the kitchen countertop at room temperature. You will expose it to bacterial growth. Once thawed in the refrigerator, take it out only a few minutes before the actual meal.
- Don’t thaw your potato salad in the microwave as well! The sudden heat will result into a mush aside from encouraging bacteria to grow rapidly.
- Always label you’re the potato salad you freeze so you know how long it has been sitting in the freezer.
Food Safety Notes
As per the recommendation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the gradual defrosting of food in the refrigerator is recommended to keep food safe and minimizes the risk of bacterial growth as it thaws.
Check your refrigerator that it is on 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less in order to thaw potato salad properly. Remember, bacterial growth can lead to serious food poisoning and that is no joke to deal with.
Tips to prepare freezer-friendly potato salad
When preparing for a party or gathering and you foresee a potato salad Armageddon, it’s best to heed the following tips just in case you will end up with a bunch of leftovers you need to freeze.
- When doing a simple oil and vinegar dressing, season and dress the potatoes when warm since this is most ideal for the potato to absorb the tastes and aroma of the dressing.
- When you want to do a sour cream or mayo dressing, aAs soon as you are done with the boiling, let potatoes stay in a bowl with ice to cool it down and stop the cooking process. This would take about 10 minutes. The longer the cooked potato stays hot, the flakier it will become and the lesser its shape will hold. This does not bode well with freezing – and dressing for that matter!
- Always remember, basic is better. Set aside your potato salad base – the potatoes and dressing then add the other components, like shrimp, celery, meats, other vegetable when needed. This will save you a lot of pain when you end up with leftovers. Having to deal with the base potato mix is better than the entire hodgepodge. That way you can also recycle the other ingredients for other recipes.
- If your defrosted potato salad looks cloudy and a bit sad, just freshen it up with a fresh dash of herbs and spices or a dollop of new dressing.
This versatile dish doesn’t necessarily have to go to waste in case you find yourself with leftovers.
Freeze it with care and thaw with more care! The best action is still to exercise portion control. After all, what is better than a fresh, comforting serving of potato salad?