frozen fish cakes

I made some fish cakes about 6 weeks ago (cooked fish, potatoes, egg mainly). I froze the leftovers (ie after forming but before pan-frying the fish cakes). When I thawed them this weekend, they were so waterlogged they fell apart before I could even cook them...straight to the garbage. Anyone know why this happened and how to prevent it? I waited till they cooled before wrapping them in saran wrap and into a ziploc. Should i fry them next time before freezing?



CanadaDan September 9, 2015
so many answers and opinions...think i'l try to dry out the taters a little more next time, maybe pan fry them a bit as well before freezing. thanks everyone
Nancy September 8, 2015
CV, glad you've had consistent good results freezing your potato gratin.
We agree on the success of commercially frozen raw potato products.
Further rooting around finds a specialist potato site (who knew?) citing science writers Harold McGee & Shirley Corriher on why frozen potatoes go funny.
Perhaps consider this information.
Yours sincerely,
Poppycock ;)
702551 September 8, 2015
Actually, most of the frozen potato products on the market are precooked, especially for the consumer market.

The frozen raw potato products (diced, shredded, discs) are typicaly intended for restaurant use. Restaurants also use plenty of the frozen precooked potato products: straight fries, curly fries, hash brown patties, tater tots, waffle fries, etc. as well. There are also plenty of consumer-focused precooking frozen products like "twice-baked" whole roasted potatoes.

Home cooks are sometimes at a disadvantage here since some of the freezing techniques benefit from specialized equipment, like the ability to reduce temperature very quickly or doing IQF (Individual Quick Frozen).

Still, a methodical cook can get useful results by experimenting with their recipes and preparations. At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself if it is worth it: the amount of effort to make the preparation in a manner that freezes well versus the quality of the product when defrosted. It's the same for anything that goes into the freezer.

I have found that I can make potato gratin that will result in a defrosted version that I deem acceptable for personal consumption. Are they something I'd serve at a fancy dinner party? No, they aren't, but they are good enough for my lunch or dinner.

That's really the decision every cook makes in making any preparation. What is good enough for you? What are you willing to serve for others? These aren't questions that anyone on an anonymous bboard can answer. It's really up to the individual cook to figure this out for themselves.
702551 September 8, 2015
It is likely that you need to evaporate out some of the moisture in the potatoes.

If you make mashed potatoes using boiled potatoes, the correct way is to cut them up into large pieces, then put them in an oven to dry out a bit. If the potatoes are roasted, you can skip this step. I've successfully frozen things with mashed potatoes as an ingredient.

Note that tater tots are essentially breaded mashed potato croquettes and you can easily find those in the freezer aisle of your supermarket.

As for the statement that potatoes don't freeze well, that's pure poppycock. Fast food french fries are all frozen, and I've certainly made my share of potato gratin over decades and successfully frozen, defrosted and reheated those.

I believe it can be done with your fish cake recipe, but you clearly need to experiment with various techniques to reduce the moisture content or to find some binding agents to help it preserve their integrity. Naturally, the people who make commercial frozen food are experts at the latter because there's a boatload of frozen potato products.

Anyhow, good luck.
Cav September 8, 2015
I've seen similar when attempting to freeze an over abundance of mashed potato. My guess is that freezing either breaks the cell walls of the potato, making them unable to contain moisture. Or the freezing process (guessing you're not fast freezing them with dry ice) creates large ice crystals within the cake, from all the moisture therein, which melt and go soggy. Or perhaps both. I'd not be surprised if cooking them first didn't also have the same result, depends how much moisture evaporated from the cake.

Hopefully someone with actual knowledge will pop along soon with real answers.
Nancy September 8, 2015
I remember learning (but can't remember where) that potatoes are one of the foods that don't freeze well.
For futures, Daniel, if you're making fish cakes and expect to have some left over, freeze the cooked crumbled fish in portions you would use, then mix them up with potato, egg, bread crumbs after defrosting.

In practice, the only potato dish I've successfully cooked from the freezer is one that was commercially prepared for food service use. So, it can be done, but probably not by home cooks.

here's a generally helpful, but not super-scientific, overview of which foods, including potatoes, DON'T freeze well.

OTOH, I have seen articles describing how to successfully home-freeze cooked potatoes. So maybe try one of their methods and see for yourself.
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