Go through any Indian restaurant’s vegetarian menu, and you will find various paneer dishes beckoning you to taste them. No wonder paneer is a favorite of Indian cuisines globally. However, the most exciting aspect of paneer is that it cooks quickly and does not require you to possess extraordinary culinary skills to prepare these dishes.
Almost every Indian household uses paneer most frequently in their homemade recipes. Therefore, you will find adequate stock of paneer in every home. Thus, it brings us to the question.
Can You Freeze Paneer?
Fortunately, the answer is in the affirmative. You can freeze paneer, cooked or uncooked. It is also possible to freeze paneer dishes. Let us understand all these procedures in the following paragraphs.
How Do You Freeze Paneer?
Uncooked paneer is the easiest to freeze. However, freezing cooked paneer required locking in the flavor to help retain its texture. Generally, it gets altered when freezing cheese.
How Do You Freeze Uncooked Paneer?
Please follow the instructions detailed below to enable easy freezing of uncooked paneer.
- Freezing entire paneer blocks is not advisable because it can be challenging to defrost them. Therefore, it is better to cut them into small pieces to facilitate easy consumption.
- Place the paneer cubes in a single layer on a lined baking tray. Freeze the cubes for three to four hours until they become solid from the outside.
- Remove these partially frozen paneer cubes and transfer them to a zip-lock freezer bag. Remove excess air by squeezing the bag. Seal the bag and label them.
- Place the zip-lock bag inside the freezer.
How Do You Freeze Cooked Paneer?
Cooked paneer can be slightly more challenging than uncooked paneer to freeze because it can go spongy on freezing. However, light frying the paneer cubes helps them retain their texture.
- Apportion the paneer into sizes that you can consume. Flavor your paneer with ground coriander or turmeric powder if required.
- Heat flavor-less oil in a frying pan and add the cubed paneer to it. Fry until they become light brown. It will not take more than a couple of minutes.
- Remove the fried paneer from the oil and transfer it to a paper-lined bowl. It helps soak up the excess fat from the paneer to facilitate freezing.
- Cool the paneer to room temperature. However, it is better to ensure that you do not leave it at room temperature for a long duration.
- Place the cubes on a baking tray for the flash freeze process. It could take a couple of hours.
- Remove the frozen paneer from the tray and store them inside a sealable freezer bag. Remove excess air and seal the bag before labeling it. Then, place the bag inside the freezer.
The paneer remains frozen for extended periods. You can use them in various recipes.
How Do You Freeze Paneer Dishes?
Paneer is used extensively in vegetarian dishes. Some examples are paneer curry, mutter paneer, palak paneer, paneer fried rice, paneer pulao, paneer parathas, etc.
We shall not discuss freezing all these dishes. However, we shall see how to free the two most popular paneer recipes, paneer curry, and mutter paneer.
Freezing Paneer Curry
- Cook paneer curry and cool it down to room temperature.
- It is better to store paneer curry in consumable portions. So, have suitable containers on hand for freezing. Then, pour the curry into these containers and leave some gaps for expansion during the freezing process.
- Using airtight containers is the best option because you can transfer them directly to the freezer. Otherwise, it is advisable to wrap the containers with cling film to prevent the leakage of liquids or odors.
Freezing Mutter Paneer
Mutter paneer is a delicious Indian recipe consisting of paneer, peas, and tomato sauce. The method of freezing mutter paneer is similar to paneer curry. Follow the procedure carefully. Cook the mutter paneer, cool it, apportion, and freeze it in airtight containers.
How Long Does Frozen Paneer Retain Its Taste And Flavor?
Generally, you can keep paneer frozen for three to six months. However, the dish can lose its texture during the later stages. So, it is better to consume paneer within three to four months of freezing. Hence, labeling the containers before freezing can prove helpful. After six months, there is no use in freezing paneer. You can discard them.
Why Is Flash Freezing Of Paneer Recommended?
Flash freezing paneer ensures that the cubes do not stick to each other. Therefore, it becomes convenient to remove and defrost them.
Which Is Better – Freezing Cooked Or Uncooked Paneer?
Cooking the paneer before freezing is a better option as it helps retain its texture. It is similar to blanching vegetables.
Why Should Paneer Cool To Room Temperature Before Freezing?
Placing hot paneer inside the freezer can alter the freezer temperature and impact other foods freezing in it. Besides, freezing hot paneer can affect its texture.
Can You Use Glass Containers For Freezing Paneer Curries?
Using glass containers is a better option than plastic for freezing paneer curries. Plastic containers can turn yellow with paneer stains.
How Do You Defrost Paneer?
Frozen paneer takes a long time to thaw. The process can last up to 24 hours. So, it is better to plan your cooking and defrost frozen paneer in the refrigerator a day before you use them. While paneer can become spongy on defrosting, it can absorb flavors when added to the curry. That makes paneer recipes delicious.
Can You Refreeze Defrosted Paneer?
Paneer, like cheese, is a dairy product. Therefore, we do not recommend refreezing paneer. Instead, you can immediately remove the quantities you need while letting the other cubes remain frozen.
Does The Paneer Change Its Texture During The Defrosting Process?
Paneer can change its texture on defrosting. However, it is good at absorbing other flavors. So, using paneer in a spicy dish can help mask the textural change.
How Long Does The Paneer Remain Fresh In The Refrigerator?
Paneer remains fresh for two to three days in the refrigerator. However, it is better to keep it moistened and soft. If you wish to store paneer for more time, it is advisable to change the water regularly. Otherwise, the best alternative is to freeze paneer.
Paneer is indispensable to North Indian recipes because almost every dish has a generous helping of paneer. Therefore, storing paneer properly is critical. The heartening fact is that you can freeze paneer and maintain its texture and flavor for three months. So, if anybody asks you, can you freeze paneer, give them a thumbs up.