It's possible to make big batches of pasta sauce and store them in your freezer. However, you shouldn't try freezing spaghetti sauce that's made out of creamy, emulsified ingredients. Freezing pasta sauce is only likely to be successful when you have tomato-based sauces.
Making Pasta Sauce to Freeze
Freezing pasta sauce is fairly easy, as long as you're trying to freeze a sauce made with a tomato base. Freezing cream-based sauces is not recommended. These sauces are likely to split in the freezer, which changes their texture, flavor and overall consistency.
Freezing pasta sauce is easiest to do when you've prepared a simple recipe. If you're adding other ingredients into your sauce, you may need to be a bit more cautious. Certain herbs and vegetables don't freeze very well.
Basil, sage, thyme and rosemary are excellent flavor additions to your tomato sauce. According to an October 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society, herbs like these are rich in antioxidants too.
However, these herbs are likely to add bitterness if left in frozen pasta sauce — especially if you've overcooked them. If you choose to flavor your pasta sauce with herbs like these, it's often best to extract them from your sauce prior to freezing.
Certain vegetables may not freeze very well either. Watery vegetables, like celery, tend to change in consistency when frozen.
Adding seeded fruits or vegetables, like eggplant, can give bitter undertones to your pasta sauce. This can even be the case for tomatoes as well.
Although it's not necessary to remove seeds when freezing pasta sauce, you may need to add extra ingredients to your sauce afterward. If you've accidentally ended up with a bitter pasta sauce after freezing, you can reduce the bitterness by adding a pinch of sugar or salt, pat of butter or splash of cream when you heat it after it has thawed.
Freezing Pasta Sauce
A plain tomato-based pasta sauce is the easiest to freeze. Freezing tomato sauce in plastic containers, freezer bags or freezer-safe glass is easy: You just need to make sure you don't have more than a cup or two of sauce in each container.
The University of Georgia's National Center for Home Food Preservation reminds you not to fill up the containers all the way, though. As a liquid, the sauce will expand, which means that you need to leave a bit of space. Leaving half an inch or an inch of space at the top of the freezer safe container is usually sufficient, depending on the total volume of pasta sauce you're freezing.
You should also make sure you don't leave your pasta sauce cooling for too long. It's best to freeze food as rapidly as possible. According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, this prevents bacterial growth and the formation of ice crystals in your food.
Finally, keep in mind that frozen food can still expire. The Mayo Clinic recommends throwing away any food that's been in your freezer for more than a year.
It's usually best to consume frozen pasta sauce within three months. After that, it's possible that your frozen sauce may experience freezer burn, which can affect its consistency and flavor.
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: "Resources for Home Preserving Tomatoes"
- Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society: "Antioxidant Properties of Three Aromatic Herbs (Rosemary, Thyme and Lavender) in Oil-in-Water Emulsions"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Freezing and Food Safety"
- Mayo Clinic: "Spring Into Better Health: The Freezer Edition"
- BBC Good Food: "Top Tips on Freezing Food"
- Splendid Table: "Don't Eliminate Bitterness; Balance It With Fat and Salt"
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: "General Freezing Information: Foods That Do Not Freeze Well"