If you’ve made a batch of soup or stew and hit upon the idea of deliberately letting it sit in the fridge – instead of freezing it for later – to develop all those delicious “leftover flavors”, this is no really isn’t necessary, according to Cook’s Illustrated. The outlet conducted a follow-up to its initial experiment with leftovers after its science editor, Guy Crosby, pointed out that the cascade of chemical reactions that takes place in leftovers to produce tasty compounds slows down once the food is eaten. is frozen – which, potentially, would be an argument for letting food “ripen” before freezing.
The outlet’s test kitchen prepared two batches of chili banana bread, freezing one batch of each just after cooling and freezing the second batch after three days of aging in the refrigerator. After each batch was thawed, the tasters sampled them and agreed that there was almost no noticeable difference. This is likely because the majority of flavor development occurs during the initial cooling phase, when hot foods come to room temperature. While there may be additional chemical processes in the refrigerator, writes Cook’s Illustrated, that’s not enough to make a real difference; and since baked goods like banana bread can quickly go stale – and bacteria will start growing even in refrigerated foods – the wisest course of action, from a practical standpoint, is to freeze leftovers. immediately.