Ranch dressing is a versatile salad dressing that has many uses apart from being a dip or a salad dressing.
It is used as a base for soups and broths, used in mac and cheese, potato salads, and even stuffing.
This versatile condiment was invented in the 1950s by Steve Henson, who made it as a salad dressing for his workers.
He would then sell the ranch dressing by mail, and by 1970 the mail order was thriving.
Proof of its longevity comes from a 2017 survey by The Association for Dressings and Sauces.
The survey showed that ranch dressing was the most popular dressing in the US.
Ranch dressing is made mainly from buttermilk which is flavored with onions, garlic, and herbs.
With these ingredients, ranch dressing is easily spoilt.
Refrigerating is a good option, but how about freezing? Freezing can preserve most foods for months, so is it the same for ranch dressing?
Can you freeze ranch dressing without it going bad? Since it has buttermilk, there is a lot to consider.
Continue reading to find out.
Does Freezing Affect Ranch Dressing?
As expected, yes, freezing will affect your ranch dressing. It is because ranch dressing is only an emulsion.
An emulsion is a blend of two liquids that normally cannot blend but are blended using force— such as oil and water.
As such, research has found that emulsions tend to break in extreme temperatures like freezing.
Similarly, ranch dressing is made with buttermilk, an emulsion of dairy butter and whey.
So, when it freezes, the whey separates from the butter by rising to the top as a pale-yellow liquid.
The butter and the other ingredients then settle at the bottom.
So why do we freeze it? Well, in the case of store-bought ranch dressing, they can last fairly long because of the preservatives.
However, in the case of homemade ranch dressing, preservatives are absent.
Plus is a mix of so many different ingredients, making the chances for it to go bad is very high.
Not forgetting ingredients like garlic which usually don’t last long.
As such, people consider freezing as a preventive method against wastage.
The Food Safety and Inspection also accredit freezing as one of the most effective processes to preserve food.
It is because freezing can slow down all microbial and enzymic activities that continuously occur in our food.
How to Freeze Ranch dressing?
If you have no other choice but to freeze ranch dressing, then there are two methods you can follow.
Freeze in Portions
Step 1 – Pour your ranch dressing into an ice cube tray.
You can use a spoon to make the pouring easier. However, make sure you leave at least 20% space in each cube compartment.
The space is required in case the ranch dressing expands in the freezer.
Step 2 – Next, cover the ice cube tray with plastic wrap and put it into the freezer.
Let it freeze completely— it will take a few hours.
Covering is essential to prevent any contamination and to keep it from possibly drying out.
Step 3 – Once the ranch dressing has frozen, take it out and then transfer it to sealable plastic bags.
Only use air-tight and durable bags. Squeeze out as much air as you can while sealing the bags.
If your freezer has the space, then you can use air-tight, microwaveable containers as well.
Step 4 – Label the date of storage onto the bags or containers and return them to the freezer.
Freeze in Bags
Step 1 – To freeze ranch dressing in bags, transfer it to a sealable bag or an air-tight container.
Use very durable bags that are air-tight. If you want to use containers, use ones that do not leak.
Do not fully pack the container or the bag. Leave at least 20% space for the ranch dressing to expand while freezing.
Step 2 – Squeeze out as much air from the bags when you seal them.
If you are using containers, make sure it is properly sealed.
Step 3 – Label the bags or the containers with the date of storage.
Put them into the freezer. For both methods, your ranch dressing should be good for the next 2 months after freezing.
How to Thaw Frozen Ranch Dressing?
Thawing ranch dressing is straightforward. However, you might need to put in a little effort.
Here is a general rule:
- If you are dealing with cubed ranch dressing, just take out what you need.
- If you did not freeze your dressing in cubes, you would have to thaw out the entire bag/ container.
Here are two different methods:
1 – Let it Sit in Fridge.
Step 1 – Take the ranch dressing out of the bag or containers and transfer it to a separate bowl.
Step 2 – Take the bowl and leave it in the fridge for a few hours to thaw out on its own.
Leaving it overnight should thaw it out fully.
Step 3 – After the frozen ranch dressing has thawed out, you will see that the whey and fat are separated.
At this stage, getting it back to the original consistency will be impossible.
But you can try to combine the separated whey add butter by whisking it vigorously.
You can even use a mixer or a blender but start on the slowest speed and increase if necessary.
Stop mixing when the ranch dressing has reached a desired consistency.
2 – Use a Microwave.
This method is not ideal for the best consistency, but if you are on a time crunch, you can use a microwave.
Step 1 – Take your frozen ranch dressing and transfer it to a microwaveable bowl or container.
Step 2 – Microwave the frozen ranch dressing on the lowest setting or the defrost setting.
Microwave it in bursts of 10 seconds. Microwave it till all the whey has melted.
Step 3 – Grab and whisk or a blender /mixer and begin incorporating the separated whey and fat.
Refrigerating is the best option to store your ranch dressing, but it is only a short-term solution.
If you want to keep it for longer then, freezing is the better option.
However, freezing ranch dressing is very risky because of the nature of this condiment.
Because it is just oil and water, freezing it makes the ingredients separate.
And sometimes, the separation is irreversible.
Although freezing is not recommended, you can keep it as a last resort.
The freezing process is simple, and it is very handy if you’re trying to preserve homemade ranch dressing.
Always remember that even if you thaw out your ranch dressing, you may not be able to get it to its original consistency.