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Can You Freeze Paneer?

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By Shannon Barratt

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Paneer is loved for its versatility, flavour, and ease of use. It’s the key ingredient in many dishes, from savoury saag paneer to sweet paneer jalebi. But what if you find yourself with more paneer than you can use?

Can You Freeze Paneer?

Yes, you can freeze paneer for up to 6 months. Paneer can be frozen for around 6 months. It can be frozen, uncooked or cooked. It can also be frozen in a cooked dish such as a curry. Cooking it beforehand can help it to retain some of its texture.

Does Paneer Freeze Well? Yes

Can You Refreeze Paneer? No

How to Freeze Paneer

First, let’s look at how to freeze paneer on its own. You still have a couple of options here that you need to go through. You need to decide whether to freeze it wholly uncooked or cooked.

There are benefits to both. With uncooked paneer, you don’t need to spend so much time on freezing it. With cooked paneer, you lock in the flavour and can help to retain the texture, which is often altered when freezing cheese:

How to Freeze Uncooked Paneer

If you want to freeze uncooked paneer correctly and safely, then follow these simple instructions below:

  1. Portion Up
    First of all, decide if you want to freeze your paneer in bite-sized cubes, slices or large chunks. I wouldn’t freeze it as one block as that can make it challenging to defrost.
Prepare Paneer
  1. Flash Freeze
    Take a lined baking tray and place your paneer cubes in a single layer and place this in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours until your cubes are frozen solid on the outside. They don’t need to be frozen through.
  2. Bag Up
    Remove the cubes from the freezer and place them into a zip lock bag. Squeeze as much air out as possible.
Bag Up 5
  1. Final Freeze
    Label the bags up and return them to the freezer.
Freeze Paneer

How to Freeze Cooked Paneer

By lightly frying it, you can help retain some of the texture of the paneer. If you’re worried about your paneer going spongy when frozen, then give this method a go:

  1. Slice Up
    Cut your paneer into bite-sized pieces or sizes that you’re most likely to eat. You can also add some flavouring to your paneer at this point – a light dusting of turmeric or ground coriander can work wonders here.
  2. Fry
    Heat some flavourless oil in a pan and add your cubed paneer and fry until lightly golden on each side. This will only take a matter of minutes.
  3. Remove Oil
    Tip the paneer into a paper-lined bowl to absorb the excess oil – you don’t want to freeze it!
  4. Cool
    Allow the cooked paneer to cool down to room temperature. It is also important to avoid leaving it sitting out at room temperature for too long. Once it has cooled, move onto step 5.
  5. Flash Freeze
    Spread out on a baking tray and place in the freezer. You only need to freeze it for a few hours.
  6. Bag Up
    Once frozen solid, remove the tray and tip the paneer into a ziplock bag. Seal it up, removing as much of the air as you possibly can.
  7. Final Freeze
    Finally, label the bag and then return it to the freezer.

You’ve now got perfectly frozen cooked paneer in the freezer, ready to be used in your next curry.

How to Freeze Paneer Dishes

Chances are, you won’t be eating paneer neat. You’ll be turning it into one of the many popular dishes it can be used in. Fortunately, many of these dishes are good for freezing too:

Paneer Curry

Whether you’ve made palak paneer or paneer tikka masala, any form of paneer curry will freeze well.

Portion the curry out into plastic containers and then allow it to cool to room temperature, leaving a small gap at the top to give it room to expand. Freezing the paneer curry in portions will make it far easier and more efficient to use in future.

Once cooled, seal the lids and pop a clear label on the outside before transferring it to the freezer.

Expect Stains!

Don’t use your best containers to store curry – as I learned! You’re going to stain the plastic. It will take on a dodgy yellow tinge.

Saag Paneer

You can freeze saag paneer for around 3 months. I’ve actually written a dedicated article about it here because I love the stuff so much! Ultimately, all you need to do it portion it out into containers, allow it to cool and then seal it.

You may find the spinach element becomes a little slimy during the freezing, thawing and reheating stage but this is only minimal.

How Long Can You Freeze Paneer?

If you keep it in airtight containers in the freezer, then your frozen paneer will be good for 6 months. In the latter stages of these 6 months, there is a chance the paneer will lose some of its original texture.

It’s probably a good idea to try and use it within 3 months where possible.

As always, make sure you label any containers with the date they were frozen so you know when you need to use them. There’s no point in freezing it, only to have to throw it out after 6 months.

How Long Does Paneer Last in the Fridge?

Wrapped paneer will keep in the fridge for around 3 days. Beyond this, it might dry out, leaving you with a crumbly texture you won’t be used to with paneer.

How Do You Defrost Paneer?

When it comes to defrosting paneer, slower is better. This is especially true if you want to retain its original texture as best as you can. That’s why I advise placing your paneer in the fridge overnight, allowing it to thaw over a 24 hour period.

Unfortunately, paneer will always go a little spongier when frozen, but it’ll work great for absorbing flavours when thrown into a curry.

Yes, this will require some planning, but it’ll be worthwhile.

Can You Defrost Paneer in the Microwave?

Yes, you can defrost paneer in the microwave using the defrost setting or 50% power, checking and flipping it every 30 seconds until fully defrosted. However, for better texture, consider defrosting in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight

Can You Refreeze Paneer?

Like other cheese varieties, paneer is very sensitive to being frozen, and the texture will change. The good news is that you’re probably going to be using it in a cooked, saucy dish which can help mask this textural change.

However, refreezing paneer will only act to make this worse, which is why it is not something that is recommended. Instead, flash freeze your paneer so that you can thaw the amount you need at a given time.

Does Paneer Freeze Well?

Paneer, on its own, is bland. On its own, there isn’t really much going for it. But it’s the ultimate carrier of flavours. Whether it’s rubbed in Indian spices, fried and thrown into a wrap or added to a curry sauce, it’s delicious!

But what has this got to do with whether or not paneer freezes well?

One of the main issues with freezing any food is that the flavour can degrade over time. The good news with paneer is that there isn’t a noticeable loss of flavour when freezing it because it is so subtle in the first place.

What you may notice is a texture change. Freezing paneer will cause it to become slightly spongier than it was once. This does help it to absorb some flavours. Were you to eat it on its own, it would be something you would notice.

Provided that you freeze it correctly and allow it to defrost, you’ll be hard-pushed to tell the difference between fresh and frozen when you stir it through a curry.

Sources

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Sach Foods

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