Why Do Some Things Freeze Better Than Others?

Welcome to my new column, Ask Kenji. I’ve spent the last decade and a half of my career rigorously researching and testing recipes, techniques and widely accepted kitchen wisdom to figure out the whys of cooking. I’ll try to answer the questions you’d answer yourself — if you had the resources and time, diving into research, tapping writers, chefs and scientists, and designing kitchen experiments to get to the bottom of your burning cooking questions. This week, we look at a reader question and figure out why, when it comes to the freezer, smaller (and faster) is better.

Q: I’m curious why quickly freezing peas would affect how much cell walls break. I would have guessed the water expands just as much regardless of how quickly they freeze, but maybe I’m missing something?

The cookbook author J. Kenji López-Alt has spent a decade and a half of his career rigorously researching and testing recipes. Now, he’s answering reader questions.Credit…Adam Centrella/The New York Times

A: Whether scattered into a beef stew, stirred into a stovetop macaroni and cheese or simply sautéed with butter, frozen peas are an easy last-minute addition to many meals. Moreover, they’re often sweeter and more consistent than my spring pea hauls from the farmers’ markets.

But why do they freeze so well?

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