Making homemade lasagna isn't difficult, but it does require several steps and a few dirty pans. If you plan on freezing the lasagna to have a quick meal on hand for busy nights, it tastes freshest if you freeze it unbaked. You can safely use raw eggs in a frozen lasagna as long as you cook the lasagna thoroughly before you serve it.
Raw eggs can carry harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, but freezing a lasagna that contains raw eggs is safe if you follow proper freezing and cooking procedures. When the lasagna is frozen at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, bacterial growth is temporarily suspended. The bacteria begin to grow again once the lasagna is thawed. So long as you cook the lasagna to an internal temperature of 160 F, any bacteria in the raw eggs will be destroyed. The USDA recommends reheating frozen prepared foods to a temperature of 165 F.
Raw eggs and ricotta cheese both have a reputation for being difficult to freeze. Raw eggs may become rubbery after being frozen and ricotta cheese may separate and become watery. However, these problems are most obvious in foods where the eggs and cheese play a starring role. Combining eggs and cheese with other ingredients stabilizes them and makes any changes in texture less apparent. Properly package and freeze the lasagna and you'll be happy with the results. Another option is to use a pasteurized egg product in the lasagna. These products have been cooked at low temperatures, which helps stabilize them and destroys any bacteria present.
When cooking a lasagna that you plan to freeze, cook the noodles for a bit less time than you normally would. Freezing causes them to soften and they'll soften further when you reheat the dish. Another option is to use oven-ready lasagna noodles that don't require cooking. Add a bit more water to your sauce if you use oven-ready noodles. Combine the raw eggs thoroughly with other filling ingredients, such as ricotta cheese and seasonings. To freeze a lasagna, place the lasagna in a freezer-proof baking dish or in a disposable aluminum pan. Cover it tightly with aluminum foil and write the date, the name of the dish and any reheating instructions on the foil with marker. Freeze the lasagna at 0 F for up to four months.
Baking a Lasagna
You've got two options when it's time to cook the lasagna. You can thaw the lasagna covered overnight in a refrigerator set at 40 F. Preheat the oven to 375 F and bake the lasagna for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown and a thermometer inserted in the middle registers 165 F, which eliminates any worry about raw egg safety. You can also bake the lasagna without thawing it, but you'll need to double the cooking time. In both cases, bake the lasagna covered until it's completely cooked through. Remove the foil to brown the cheese.
- USDA: Shell Eggs From Farm to Table
- University of Georgia Cooperative Extension: Freezing Prepared Foods
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Freezing Cheese
- USDA: Freezing and Food Safety
- University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension: Common Foods That May Not Freeze Well
- University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service: Make-Ahead Meals
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