How to Freeze Paneer
First, let’s take a 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 completely uncooked or cooked.
There are benefits to both. With uncooked paneer, you don’t need to spend so much time on the freezing process. 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:
- Portion Up
First of all, decide if you want to freeze your paneer in bite-sized cubes, slices or large chunks. We wouldn’t advise freezing it as one block as that can make it challenging to defrost.
- 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.
- Bag Up
Remove the cubes from the freezer and place them into a zip lock bag. Squeeze as much air out as possible.
- Final Freeze
Label the bags up and return them to the freezer.
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:
- 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.
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.
- Remove Oil
Tip the paneer into a paper-lined bowl to absorb the excess oil – you don’t want to freeze it!
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.
- Flash Freeze
Spread out on a baking tray and place in the freezer. You only need to freeze it for a few hours.
- 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.
- 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
Freezing paneer on its own is all well and good, but one of the huge benefits of having a freezer is the ability to store batch-cooked meals that are ready to go during the hectic workweek. That’s why we’ve outlined a couple of popular paneer dishes below and how to go about freezing them:
How to Freeze Paneer Curry
If there’s one thing that you’re going to make with paneer, it’s curry. It’s the ultimate vegetarian-friendly curry that can be batch cooked and then store in the freezer. But how do you go about it?
- Cook Curry
Make your curry! It’s obvious, but make your curry how you normally would. If you want to mix it up a little, then Olive magazine has published their best paneer curries here.
Next is the most important step, and that is to make sure your curry has completely cooled to room temperature before you consider freezing it.
Once cooled, grab some portion-sized containers. Freezing the paneer curry in portions will make it far easier and more efficient to use in future. Add your curry to the containers, leaving a small gap at the top to give it room to expand.
- Seal and Freeze
If your containers have solid, tight-fitting lids, then you can place them straight into the freezer. If you’re worried about either liquid leaking or odours escaping, then wrap the container in clingfilm.
How to Freeze Mutter Paneer
Mutter paneer is, essentially, a form of curry. It is a North Indian dish consisting of paneer and peas in a tomato-based sauce. If you want to freeze mutter paneer, then the method is much like that outlined above.
Cook your mutter paneer, allow it to cool, portion into freezer-safe containers and then freeze.
5 Tips for Freezing Paneer
Now you know how to freeze it, we’ve got our 5 top tips which we strongly recommend following when freezing paneer to have the best results:
- Always Flash Freeze – When freezing your paneer on its own, always take the time to flash freeze it. This will ensure none of the cubes sticks to one another, making it far easier to grab a portion as and when you need it. If you don’t flash freeze, then you’ll be left with one clump of paneer.
- Cooked is Better than Uncooked – If time allows, giving it a quick fry in some flavourless oil beforehand is a must. It will importantly help you to retain the texture – much like blanching vegetables does.
- Allow Paneer to Cool – If you have cooked it, whether that’s on its own or in a curry, you need to give it time to cool to room temperature. Freezing it hot can impact the texture and increase the internal temperature of your freezer, which can impact other foods and make your freezer work extra hard.
- Use Glass Container for Curries – Curry will do its best to stain everything. If you freeze curry in plastic containers, they will quickly stain and take on a yellow hue. Instead, use glass containers that are far less likely to stain with curry.
- Label with Content and Date – You might be able to tell the difference between paneer and feta normally, but when it is frozen, it can be a little more challenging. That’s why you should label your bag with both the contents and the date it needs to be consumed.
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.
You Can Freeze Paneer for up to 6 Months
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 we 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 it’s thrown into a curry.
Yes, this will require some planning ahead, but it’ll be worthwhile.
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 actually help it to absorb some flavours. Were you to eat it on its own, it will 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 the fresh and frozen when you stir it through a curry.
If you’ve still got questions about freezing paneer or paneer in general, then these may help:
Where to Buy Paneer?
Paneer is now widely available from most major supermarkets and is incredibly affordable too. Tesco sells its own brand of Paneer, for example. If you’re looking to save even more money, then either looking in the Asian section of the supermarket where you’ll often find it or visit your local Asian store.
How to Cook Paneer?
Paneer is one of the simplest things to cook. If you want to give it a little Indian spice, cut the paneer into equal-sized cubes, then roll in a mixture of turmeric and crushed cumin. Fry over medium heat in a little drizzle of rapeseed oil. Keep turning the paneer until it is golden on all sides, then enjoy.
What Cheeses Freeze Well?
If you’re looking to freeze different cheeses to paneer, then we have a whole article on freezing cheese in general. Some cheeses do, however, freeze much better than others. Mozzarella will freeze well, for example, unlike camembert, where the flavour and texture will degrade when frozen.
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