Can You Freeze A Cream-Based Tomato Sauce?

tomato cream-based sauce with chicken
tomato cream-based sauce with chicken - from my point of view/Shutterstock

A lot of pasta dishes come with either a cream or tomato-based sauce. Fie on that! Why not simply combine the two? Also sometimes known as rosé sauce (like the wine, not the flower), creamy tomato sauce can be a great way to have the best of both worlds for dinner. But let's say you make too much of the stuff. There's no way you'll be able to eat it all before it goes bad, so you want to put it in the freezer. But how, you wonder, is that going to turn out?

The answer is probably not well. Oh sure, it isn't going to hurt you, but it's all but guaranteed to break during the thawing process. There are ways you can try to fix this, but it won't come out of the freezer the same way it went in. To understand why, it's important to understand the science behind what happens when you freeze things -- and why certain foods freeze much better than others.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

Cream-Based Sauces Separate When They're Thawed

penne alla vodka
penne alla vodka - Grandriver/Getty Images

Let's start with the basics: Water expands when it freezes. We all know that; we learned it as kids. But it's important to note that the rule applies to solid or viscous foods because they also contain water. When that water freezes, it forms ice crystals, which expand, rupturing the cell walls of the food in question and damaging its texture. This is why it's important to freeze something like meat quickly: Because then only smaller crystals have a chance to form, which causes less damage to the cell walls.

With anything cream-based and soft, like milk, sour cream, or soft cheese, freezing the liquid (regardless of speed) will cause it to separate from the dairy fat present, as the fat itself cannot freeze. This isn't a problem with harder dairy products like, say, cheddar cheese (there's not enough moisture to push out the dairy), but when it comes to a tomato cream-based sauce (or any cream-based sauce, really), the cream is going to find its way to separate from the rest of it, leaving behind something that, while edible, is less than appetizing.

You Can Sometimes Re-Emulsify These Sauces

cream sauce whisked
cream sauce whisked - New Africa/Shutterstock

That being said, it isn't going to hurt you if you eat the sauce even in its broken form -- it just probably won't taste good. There is, fortunately, a way to fix the issue, although it's not 100% foolproof. After the sauce is thawed, reheat it while whisking continuously; there's a chance you can get it to re-emulsify as you go. You can also add back a small amount (no more than a tablespoon) of very hot water and stick the mixture in a blender to try to re-engage emulsification. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Ultimately, when it comes to freezing tomato and cream-based sauces, it's not so much a question of "can" as it is "should." You can try it -- and you may even get lucky and have it work -- but it's not really highly recommended. Besides, that stuff is delicious; why not just eat it as leftovers before it goes bad?

Read the original article on Daily Meal.