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Can I freeze cream-based sauces and soups?  

Hi Sammy & Bella, Is it okay to freeze cream-based sauces and soups? I’ve read conflicting reports!

Answered Wednesday 11 September 2013

Although freezing cream based soups and sauces won’t hurt you health-wise, they can change texture and this will affect the flavour when reheated.

The problem is that dairy products tend to split when frozen and end up grainy and unpleasant on the palate. So why is it ok for ice cream? When making ice cream, you start with a custard which is effectively emulsified. This means that the egg has stabilized the mix and formed a bond for the proteins, preventing the water based molecules from splitting from the fat based molecules.

Commercially, food products often have an emulsifier such as xanthan gum or lecithin added during cooking to prevent splitting. If you’d like to experiment at home, these are available at retail at some supermarkets and health food stores, otherwise you can find them online.

More commonly, a good way to emulsify and stabilize a cream based sauce using a roux, a mix of butter and plain flour.

Dairy based soups and sauces will also split when heated at too high a temperature, or have an acid such as lemon juice added. So it’s also a good idea to reheat slowly on the stove top (don’t even bring it to the simmer, it should just be warmed through), and make sure you don’t have any acids in the sauce. Also, salt can cause curdling so it’s worth seasoning after you have defrosted.

It’s also worthy to note that the lower the fat content, the more likely it is to split. So if you’re planning on freezing, it’s best not to use skim milk. You can also consider leaving out the cream, and simply add it in fresh once you’ve defrosted.

So what happens if your sauce has split? Don’t throw it away just yet – there is one last chance to save it! Take some fresh cream and slowly reduce it down to 1/3 of its original volume. Slowly drizzle it into your sauce while whisking constantly and (fingers crossed) it should emulsify.

Home Cooking Experts

Sammy and Bella

These food-obsessed Sydney sisters find their cooking inspiration through family, friends and travel.

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