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You can freeze potato salad, but freezing potato salad isn’t a good idea because the freezing and thawing process harms the taste, consistency, and safety of potato salad.
Potato salad contains eggs, which aren’t suitable for freezing because bacteria can multiply on them while they thaw.
Potato salad also contains mayonnaise, which separates and curdles when frozen and defrosted, worsening the consistency of the dish.
Potato salad that has been frozen and defrosted won’t taste as good as freshly-made potato salad, and potato salad that has been incorrectly thawed may be unsafe to eat.
How to freeze potato salad
Freezing potato salad isn’t recommended, but there are a few safe ways to freeze it if necessary.
When stored in the fridge, potato salad is safe to eat for up to five days, but the dish starts to deteriorate after the first day.
For the best results when freezing potato salad, always freeze on the same day the potato salad was made. If you made too much potato salad and expect to have leftovers, don’t serve all the potato salad at once and instead prepare some to be frozen.
Freezing potato salad works best if the potato salad hasn’t come into contact with other foods and doesn’t contain debris from other dishes.
Divide the potato salad into two batches: a serving batch and a freezing batch. Put the freezing batch in a sealed container or ziplock bag in the fridge. If the serving batch is running low, top up the serving bowl with more potato salad from the back-up supply in the fridge.
After the meal, freeze whatever potato salad remains from the back-up supply that has been kept cold in the fridge. Don’t keep potato salad in an open container in the freezer. Cold air that comes into direct contact with food causes freezer burn, which harms the taste and appearance of the dish.
Store potato salad in the freezer for a maximum of three months, using one of the following methods.
Freezing Potato Salad in an Airtight Container
Select a container with an airtight seal. Use the right-sized container for best results. The container should be big enough to store the leftover potato salad with 1 inch of empty space at the top to allow for expansion as the salad freezes.
Avoid using a container that’s too big. If there’s too much air at the top of the container, the gasses in the air cause the potato salad to spoil quickly.
Spoon the potato salad into the container, taking care not to mash the potatoes. Seal the container and attach a dated label to the lid before placing the container in the freezer.
Position the container in a spot in the freezer where cold air can circulate around the container, allowing the salad to freeze as quickly as possible.
Freezing potato salad in an airtight container helps to keep the pieces of potato whole and prevents the salad from becoming mashed potatoes.
However, containers take up a lot of space in the freezer, so use a plastic bag for a lower-profile alternative.
Freezing Potato Salad in a plastic bag
Freezing potato salad in a plastic bag with a zipper seal saves space in the freezer, but it introduces a risk of the potato salad being crushed and turning into mashed potatoes.
Use a good quality, thick plastic bag with a strong zipper seal to freeze potato salad in a plastic bag. Spoon the salad into the bag, leaving 1 inch of empty space at the top to allow for expansion as the salad freezes.
Gently squeeze the air out of the bag before sealing the zipper. To help prevent the potato salad from going bad, remove as much air as possible from the bag before freezing.
Write the date on the bag and place the bag of potato salad on a flat surface in the freezer. Don’t place anything else on top of the bag until the potato salad is frozen solid, to allow the salad to freeze quickly and to prevent the potatoes from being crushed while still soft.
How to Thaw Potato Salad
Thawing potato salad correctly is important to ensure food safety. Potato salad contains ingredients like eggs, mayonnaise, and dairy products that are temperature-sensitive and spoil quickly at room temperature.
Avoid leaving potato salad to thaw on the kitchen counter because harmful bacteria can begin to multiply at room temperature and make anyone who eats the potato salad sick.
Don’t thaw potato salad in the microwave or by placing the salad in the sun. Using heat to thaw potato salad will make the salad taste bad and spoil quickly, causing anyone who eats the potato salad to become sick.
Trying to thaw potato salad by adding frozen potato salad to other food that is warm is also a dangerous practice that will make the potato salad spoil and also contaminate the food it was added to.
Instead, use one of the following methods to thaw potato salad.
Thawing Potato Salad in the Refrigerator
The safest way to thaw potato salad is by placing the container or plastic bag of salad in the refrigerator and leaving the salad to thaw overnight. Keeping the salad cold prevents bacteria from multiplying as the salad defrosts.
Although thawing potato salad in the refrigerator is the safest method, it requires advance planning.
Potato salad is less likely to separate or curdle when thawed in the fridge, but if this does happen the salad is still safe to eat. Mix the potato salad through gently with a spoon to blend the ingredients together again and improve the taste and consistency of the salad.
Add an extra spoonful or two of mayonnaise to enhance the consistency and make the potato salad taste fresher.
Thawing Potato Salad With Cold Water
Thawing potato salad with cold water also helps to keep the salad cold and prevent bacteria from multiplying rapidly.
To thaw potato salad with cold water, place the container or plastic bag of frozen potato salad in a large bowl or in the kitchen sink. Place some ice cubes around the container or bag, and add enough cold water to reach ¾ of the way up the container or bag.