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Freezing already cooked food


Susanwusan
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I want to make and freeze macaroni cheese.  What is the best way, or recipe if you have one, to prevent the macaroni absorbing all the sauce during cooling, freezing and baking.  My plan is to cook the pasta, cook the sauce and mix them together, then when needed, put the container in the oven to bake (and thaw).

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It’ll either be fine…or suck. I mean, frozen lasagna is a thing, no? So I imagine if you do this properly, your finished, baked product will be okay.

 

What’s proper, you ask?  With properly undercooked pasta, and properly cooked sauce, you should be fine.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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I'm not worried about safety , but perhaps the sauce will break.

 

A fully cooked mac  and cheese should be fully hydrated, ie no more water can be absorbed.

 

I think.

Edited by gfweb (log)
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1 hour ago, gfweb said:

but perhaps the sauce will break.

That would be my main concern.  

 

1 hour ago, weinoo said:

and properly cooked sauce, you should be fine.

Is there a trick to properly cooked sauce that won't break?  Would sodium citrate guarantee an unbroken freeze-thaw?

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According to the Washington Post 

Here, There is no need for any special changes to the normal preparation. I apologize if it is behind a pay wall but here is an excerpt.  

 

“Macaroni and cheese freezes very well. I ought to know; I worked on a big mac and cheese project last year and was eating the research materials for months afterwards. You don’t need to do anything special when preparing whichever recipe you choose; just make sure that when you cook your pasta, you keep it al dente. That will help stave off the mushiness you’re concerned about. Another thing: I haven’t really noticed this, but some cooks believe that the cooked pasta absorbs too much of the sauce over time and makes the dish dry. The antidote is to cut back slightly on the amount of pasta, to increase the ratio of cheese to mac. If you find that your defrosted portions are too dry, try that technique.”

 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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I frequently freeze pre-baked mac and cheese for the kids.   Never a problem.    Also have frozen whole baked casseroles of m and c.    This refers to cream-sauce based m and c, not old-fashioned milk and cheese style.    I

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Ed makes large batches of macaroni and cheese sauce and then I freeze it in suitable meal portions.  He's never paid any attention to the niceties of undercooking the pasta or much of anything else, and it's always been perfectly good.  But maybe then we aren't connoisseurs where macaroni and cheese are concerned.  

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I do this all the time. I do use sodium citrate and evaporated milk, both which prevent the sauce from breaking. Also make sure that the pasta is just al dente and as mentioned above, make it "soupier" than I would if serving immediately.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Modernist cuisine Mac and cheese freezes and thaws repeatedly without any issues. Béchamel Mac and cheese I’ve found can split, but I blend a little gum in (xanthan) and it’s fine as well. Sour cream with xanthan freezes fine but needs a really small amount and you need to blend using a blender, I’ve used a few different gums for freezing and all are usually fine. Ultratex 4 is my go to these days for anything I want glossy and easily mixed in. 
 

you’d be surprised at how well a lot of foods handle being frozen after being cooked and with sauces if there is a worry I put ultratex in and no issues. 
 

only exceptions have been really delicate items you can’t wrap well so if you put it in a container expect it to develop freezer burn pretty quick. Anything you can either vacuum pack or cover the surface of using cling film will freeze fine after it’s cooked.

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