Frozen spinach is amazing. But most leafy greens? Less so. 

By Clarissa Buch
Updated December 18, 2019
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Running out of space in your freezer? You may be storing a handful of items that shouldn’t actually be frozen, or at least some that lose significant flavor, texture, and character when the temperature drops below freezing.

Just ask these chefs, who say you should never, ever think about freezing a bag of produce or a tub of sour cream. From Judy Joo to Donatella Arpaia, these chefs had strong — if somewhat controversial — opinions. (For items that are perfectly lovely to freeze, these chefs list their favorites.)

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Cured meats

“Salami and cured meats are already preserved and will last several months on the shelf or in the fridge. Plus, the moisture from freezing will cause them to be wet and gummy." — Rusty Bowers, owner of whole animal butcher shop Pine Street Market and Chop Shop

Chapulines

“You never freeze chapulines (grasshoppers). They get super soft and it’s impossible to bring them back to their original strangely crunchy texture.” — Roberto Santibañez, culinary director of Mi Vida

White wine

"As for white and sparkling wines, we’ve all popped them in there for a quick chill only to forget and go beyond the point of optimum chill and burst the cap or cork. Freezing also reduces carbonation. Instead place the bottle in the sink and cover with chilly ice water.” — Rusty Bowers

Victor Protasio

Dairy products

“Most dairy products, such as milk, sour cream, yogurt, and cheese, should never be frozen. They’ll turn lumpy and mealy." —Judy Joo, chef, restaurateur, and television personality

Meat that’s already been frozen

“If you’ve thawed meat but didn’t use it, don’t put it back in the freezer. Once it’s thawed, place it in the fridge and cook within 24 hours.” — Donatella Arpaia, chef, restaurateur, and television personality

Pasta

“As Italian chef, I guarantee to never freeze cooked pasta. It turns into a blob of gluten after thawed. Never the same.” — Vincenzo Scarmiglia, executive chef of W South Beach

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Edible flowers

“At the risk of stating the obvious, I wouldn't freeze soda or bottles of beer! But I also don't recommend edible flowers as freezing will cause the flowers to wilt faster.” — Drew Adams, executive chef of Bourbon Steak at Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C.

Produce with high water content

"Plus, fruits or vegetables with high-water content, such as leafy greens, celery, and cucumbers, shouldn’t be frozen. The water will turn icy and the item will thaw into a limp sad mess.” — Judy Joo

Mussels

“They just lose so much of that luscious ocean flavor when they are frozen. At this point, your sauce better be good. Even if your sauce is good, now you're just chewing on something rubbery. No one likes a rubbery, bland mussel.” – Matt Wynn, executive chef of Taste Bar

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Lobster

“The meat becomes mealy and mushy. Once they are killed, an enzyme is released that greatly compromises their texture. Freezing can reduce the severity of it but does not eliminate it entirely.” – Judy Joo

Leafy greens

“I know we eat a lot of frozen spinach, but they are their own food group. Most frozen leafy vegetables lose all their texture and vibrancy when frozen.” Jet Tila, chef, restaurateur, and television personality