Potato salad is a humble side dish that pairs perfectly with any hearty meal. Suppose you love having potato salad with every meal. In that case, it is handy to triple or quadruple a recipe and serve for later.
Sadly, this good stuff only lasts for several days in the fridge. So, can you freeze potato salad for later?
That is a valid question asked by many people; maybe you’re one of them. A classic American potato salad is typically prepared with mayonnaise (or mayo-like substitutes, such as yogurt, sour cream), pickles, and eggs.
Those ingredients are not the most freezer-friendly items, so if you’re doubting whether potato salad freezes well, you’re not alone.
In this article, you’ll discover the nitty-gritty of freezing potato salad and how you should do it. Sounds like what you need now? So, keep reading!
Can Potato Salad Be Frozen?
When it comes to the success rate of freezing foods, ingredients play a significant role. Not all foods freeze equally well.
American style potato salad is usually dressed with mayonnaise. Unfortunately, mayonnaise tends to separate after thawing and affects the whole dish. The overall appearance might look soggy and mushy.
That being said, German potato salad freezes better than its American counterpart. The former is typically made with a vinegar-based dressing.
Is it safe to freeze potato salad?
Potato salad is a perishable food that is very sensitive to room temperature, which is why you shouldn’t leave this creamy salad outside a fridge longer than two hours.
If you’re planning to freeze potato salad (or any other foods), it is important to make sure that the food is still fresh and not spoiled.
There are a lot of ingredients in the potato salad that are temperature sensitive. Meanwhile, freezing only slows the growth of germs in food rather than killing them all.
For homemade potato salad, prepare the dish properly. Take an appropriate amount to serve and keep the rest refrigerated.
For store-bought potato salad, you need to be extra careful. If buying from a salad bar or a store, you need to know how long it’s been displayed on the shelves. If that’s not the case, don’t bother freezing it.
How To Freeze Potato Salad
Freezing potato salad is clearly not the best preservation method. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t freeze potato salad, just beware of the risks.
If you decide to give it a go, here is how you should do it.
1. Prepare potato salad as usual according to your favorite recipe.
2. Portion out the salad into individual serving sizes. It looks like a hassle, but it saves you a lot of time for thawing. Plus, you’re unlikely to have leftovers to deal with.
3. Pack the salad in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container.
4. Leave an appropriate headspace if using a container. Or, suck out as much air as possible from the bag.
5. Seal tightly and label with a freezing date or a use-by date.
6. Transfer the package to the freezer.
Just a side note, spare a few minutes to check your freezer’s temperature regularly. For quality and safety reasons, frozen foods need to be continuously kept at 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower.
How Do You Defrost Frozen Potato Salad?
To defrost frozen potato salad safely, simply leave a package in the refrigerator and let it soften up slowly.
If you’re short on time, you can submerge the package in cold water. You’ll need to change the water a couple of times until the salad is completely thawed.
Keep in mind that potato salad is perishable, which is why thawing it on the kitchen counter is not recommended.
American potato salad is commonly served cold, so no need to reheat it after thawing. Add some fresh herbs to improve the texture and flavor.
If you have any leftovers, keep them in a sealed, airtight container and put it back into the fridge as soon as possible.
How Long Can You Freeze Potato Salad?
With adequate preparation and handling, potato salad is best served within 2 to 3 months after freezing. If stored longer than that, this creamy salad starts to break down and become much less appetizing.
Like other prepared dishes, potato salad—homemade or store-bought—can last up to 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator if made and stored correctly. Refrigerate any leftovers and avoid leaving them out at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
Some common symptoms of spoiled food are off-smell, sour taste, slimy look, or moldy appearances. Unfortunately, taste and look don’t always indicate that foods are safe to eat. To stay on the safe side, don’t eat potato salad if it’s been at room temperature longer than 2 hours. If you’re in doubt, throw it out.
Unfortunately, raw potatoes don’t freeze well because they turn watery and soggy after thawing. The best way to freeze potatoes (and sweet potatoes) is to cook them before freezing. You can simply boil or blanch the potatoes if you plan to make French fries or hash brown. Alternatively, freeze fully cooked potatoes such as mashed, scalloped, baked potatoes, etc.
Yes, you can prepare pasta salad in advance and freeze up to 3 months. Consider packing the cooked pasta, dressing, and other ingredients separately. Some ingredients may freeze better than others. Cream-based dressing tends to get watery after thawing. Instead, add the cream later before serving.
Yes. As long as coleslaw doesn’t contain mayonnaise, it freezes quite well. For freezing, consider making vinegar and oil-based. If you like creamy coleslaw, add the mayonnaise later before serving.
Freezing potato salad is somewhat a controversial topic. That is because potato salad is typically prepared with mayonnaise. Mayo dressing tends to break down after thawing and consequently affects the whole salad.
Hopefully, now you know what to expect from freezing potato salad. Although it is not ideal, freezing potato salad is not impossible. As long as it is prepared, frozen, and thawed properly, potato salad should be safe to eat.
See more: can you freeze sweet potatoes?
*image by fotek/depositphotos