Paella is a delicious Spanish rice dish. It is traditionally made with seafood and fish but it can also be made with meats such as chicken and chorizo or vegetables and beans.
However, it is quite a lengthy process to make paella so can you make it in bulk and freeze some of it? The answer is yes, and it does, in fact, freeze well. In this article, we will tell you how to freeze it and how to defrost it.
How To Freeze Seafood Paella
It is a little complicated to freeze seafood paella (see also Can You Freeze Cooked Fish?). First of all, you need to know where the seafood has come from. You don’t want to freeze seafood that has already been frozen. If you refreeze seafood, the chances are that ice crystals will form, and when defrosted, the seafood can end up mushy.
Refreezing also increases the risk of bacteria forming. So, ask your fishmonger how your seafood has been stored and if it was frozen, don’t freeze it together with the paella. Add it after you have defrosted the paella.
Another thing that you shouldn’t do is freeze the seafood with the shells on. You will need to take them off before you freeze them. If you do want to decorate your paella with shelled mussels, clams, or scallops (see also How To Freeze Scallops), keep a few back and add them when you are reheating the paella. Seafood paella does look attractive with a few scallops or mussels still in their shells.
This is the way to freeze seafood paella:
1. Prepare the paella
Use your favorite recipe to make the paella. If your seafood hasn’t been frozen before you can prepare it now by removing the shells (see also Freezing Crab) and any inedible bits on the seafood. Seafood doesn’t take that long to cook so add it at the end of the cooking process.
2. Cool down the paella
You need to do this quickly as rice shouldn’t be left at room temperature for longer than two hours. After this time, bacteria may start to form, and you could get food poisoning. You will need to remove the paella from the hot pan and then spread it out on a baking tray. This should speed up the cooling process.
3. Put the paella into containers or freezer bags.
It is a good idea to divide the paella into meal-size portions so that you only defrost as much paella as you need for one meal. This saves on wastage.
If you are using a freezer bag, make sure that you squeeze out all the air so that freezer burn doesn’t occur. Freezer burn changes the taste and texture of food for the worse. If you are using a container and don’t think that it is tight-fitting enough, you can cover it with aluminum foil or cling film. This helps to stop freezer burn.
Put labels on the containers or bags with the date frozen and the contents.
How To Freeze Meat Paella
1. Make the paella.
Meat usually takes longer than seafood to cook so start off by frying the meat and then add the rice, stock, and wine.
2. Cool down the paella.
Spread the paella on a cold baking tray to speed up the process. Don’t leave it out for longer than two hours.
Don’t put the paella in the freezer while it is still warm as it can bring up the temperature. Other food may start to defrost and when it refreezes, bacteria could start to form.
3. Put the paella in airtight containers or freezer bags.
Separate the paella into meal-size portions, squeeze out the air from the freezer bags to prevent freezer burn, and put on a label with the contents and the date frozen.
How To Freeze Vegetarian Paella
Vegetables generally freeze very well, much better than seafood or meat, so it is very straightforward to freeze vegetarian paella. Just cook, cool, put in meal-size containers, and freeze.
Tips For Freezing Paella
- Squeeze the air out of freezer bags to prevent freezer burn.
- Check that the ingredients freeze well. Some seafood, like clams, don’t freeze particularly well so they are best added after you have defrosted the paella.
- Try to get the paella in the freezer as soon as possible as it is dangerous to leave rice at room temperature for longer than two hours. Rice is one of those foods that can spoil easily.
- Freeze in meal-size portions so that you only defrost as much as you need for one meal. Otherwise you could end up throwing some of the paella away.
For How Long Can You Freeze Paella?
You can freeze paella for just two months so don’t make too much of it unless you enjoy eating it regularly. As with most food, the quicker you eat the paella, the better it will taste.
How Do You Defrost Paella?
Because it is so easy for bacteria to form on rice, the best way to defrost paella is by doing it slowly. Put it in the fridge overnight to defrost. Once it has defrosted, it is a good idea to mix in a tablespoon of olive oil. This will loosen the rice. You can then heat it up on the hob or even in the microwave.
Can You Refreeze Paella?
It’s not a good idea to refreeze paella. When you freeze, defrost, and then freeze again, ice crystals can form and when you come to defrost the second time, the rice can be quite mushy. Refreezing also increases the chances of bacteria forming which can lead to food poisoning.
Is It a Good Idea to Freeze Paella?
It is initially. The sooner you defrost it and reheat it, the better it will taste. It will still be safe to eat if you keep it in the freezer for two months but you will notice that there is a difference in taste and texture between fresh and frozen paella.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully, you now know all there is to know about freezing paella but in case you still have questions we have answered a few here.
What kind of seafood goes well in paella?
Shrimp, prawns, scallops, mussels, and clams are good additions to a paella. You can also put in firm white fish such as halibut, monkfish, or sea bass. You can put in a mixture of both seafood and fish.
What are good meat additions to a paella?
Chicken and rabbit are often used in a meat paella, as well as chorizo, a Spanish sausage (see also Can You Freeze Chorizo?).
What are the best vegetables to use in paella?
You can put in a mixture of vegetables, such as corn, peas, broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, and artichokes.
Is it dangerous to freeze paella?
We are probably all aware that bacteria can form very easily on rice but if you follow the instructions we have given you, you should achieve success. Just remember not to leave the paella at room temperature for longer than two hours and don’t refreeze it.
What is the best type of rice to use in paella?
Short grain rice or Arroz Rodunda (or round rice) are the best types of rice to use when making paella. They keep the flavors of the dish much better than long grain rice.