Although they seem to last forever, salad dressings have an expiration date and will eventually go bad, even in the refrigerator. According to the USDA, salad dressing can last up to two months in the refrigerator before needing to be thrown out. However, as with many foods, you can extend the shelf life of salad dressing by putting it in the freezer.
Although it doesn’t taste as fresh as a new bottle from the store, most salad dressings can be frozen, with a few exceptions. However, you’d be making a mistake with your salad dressing if you just put that plastic squeeze bottle straight into the freezer. Instead, you should transfer the contents into an airtight container, making sure to create a tight seal with the lid. There should be no air bubbles in the mixture as they can prove disastrous during the freezing process. Air bubbles can cause freezer burn, which causes the outer layers of food to lose moisture and can ruin the dressing.
You should also check the expiration date before freezing. Keep in mind that freezing foods suspends them in the state they already are in and therefore cannot save a dressing that is going bad. When prepared properly, your frozen salad dressing will last up to three months in the freezer. However, as with everything, there are a few exceptions to the rule that should be kept in mind.
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Exceptions to Freezing Dressing
When it comes to freezing salad dressing, salad dressings usually work best. Salad dressings are a fusion of vinegar and oil and will freeze well because they are temporary emulsions. Temporary emulsions are two ingredients that temporarily join together before separating. However, there are two types of salad dressings that you should probably reconsider freezing. You should not freeze salad dressing if it contains a permanent emulsion. Consider mayonnaise-based salad dressings. Mayonnaise is a combination of oil and egg yolks with vinegar, melted continuously. However, when you freeze a permanent emulsion, its ingredients separate during the freezing process, ruining the dressing.
Likewise, you should probably reconsider freezing dairy-based salad dressings. Dairy-based salad dressings are known for their creamy texture, which likely isn’t the same after the freezing process. However, you can try to salvage the dressing by defrosting it halfway, then whisking the mixture vigorously to try to give it some volume. Alternatively, you can also use frozen dairy-based salad dressings that have lost their consistency for cooking rather than salads to reuse the condiment. It’s also best to temper your expectations. Thawed salad dressings may not taste exactly the same as they would before frozen because some ingredients may have been changed.
Can you freeze salads?
You have your frozen dressing ready when you need it. You’re probably wondering if you can also put your salad greens in the freezer to eat them as you please. Although salads are delicious, they can also be a bit of a pain because they have a very short shelf life. According to the USDA, salads will last three to five days in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be a good idea to throw your salad mix in the freezer.
Salads contain several ingredients that lose their quality when frozen. In particular, green vegetables like spinach and lettuce become slimy when frozen, making for a bad salad. You won’t get that crisp lettuce that every good salad needs. The problem is that lettuce and salad greens don’t freeze well. They contain too much water. When you freeze lettuce, ice crystals form and destroy the vegetable at the cellular level.
Some salads can be frozen. Think, for example, of variations of romaine or Boston lettuce. However, you still won’t throw them in a salad once thawed, as the vegetables will be mushy. Instead, they could be cooked into a recipe, but not into a salad. Likewise, other vegetables like tomatoes don’t freeze well.