Paneer is a tasty Indian cheese. It comes in a block and you can cut it into cubes and pan fry it, grill it, or put it on the barbecue. Use it in kebabs with different vegetables such as peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms or cubes of chicken or beef.
You can marinate it in Indian spices before cooking so that it gets a good flavor. In addition, you can add it to curry.
However, what if you have bought a big block and can’t use it all at once, or it is on sale and you have bought it in bulk? Is it possible to freeze it? The simple answer is yes, and in this article, we will tell you how to freeze paneer and how to defrost it.
How To Freeze Paneer
There are three different methods of freezing paneer. You can freeze it uncooked, cooked, or in a dish such as a curry. It is quicker to freeze uncooked paneer but cooked paneer retains the texture slightly better than uncooked does.
How To Freeze Uncooked Paneer
1. Divide the paneer into portions.
You can choose to slice the paneer, cut it into small cubes, or you can chop it into large chunks. The method you choose will depend on what you are going to do with the paneer. For example, if you are going to cook kebabs, you will probably want large chunks. Don’t freeze it in a whole block as it will be difficult to defrost.
2. Flash freeze the paneer.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and place your paneer cubes or slices on the tray, making sure that they aren’t touching each other. In this way, they won’t stick together when you bag them up and you can just defrost the number you want. Place the tray in the freezer and freeze for between three and four hours.
3. Put the paneer in freezer bags.
Squeeze as much air as possible out of the freezer bags so that freezer burn doesn’t occur. The paneer will still be safe to eat but it will lose taste and texture. Put a label on the bags with the date frozen and what is in the bag. You may not be able to tell what it is by just looking at the bags.
How To Freeze Cooked Paneer
By freezing cooked paneer, you will stop it from going spongy when defrosted. This is the way to freeze it.
1. Cut up the paneer.
You can cut it into slices, bite-sized pieces, or larger chunks. Sprinkle the paneer with spices to give a nice Indian flavor. Turmeric, ground coriander, and ground cumin are all good choices.
2. Fry the paneer.
Using a flavorless oil, fry the paneer until it is golden brown on both sides. This will take only a few minutes.
3. Drain the oil.
You don’t want to freeze the oil as the extra moisture will cause ice crystals to form and the paneer will end up soggy when you come to defrost it.
4. Cool down the paneer.
Cool down the paneer to room temperature. Don’t leave it out for longer than two hours otherwise, bacteria may start to form and you could become sick when you come to eat the paneer. Also, don’t put the paneer in the freezer while it is still warm as it may bring up the temperature and other food may start to defrost and when freezing again, bacteria may start to form.
5. Flash freeze the paneer.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and lay out the paneer. Make sure that the pieces aren’t touching each other. By doing this, they won’t stick together when you put them in a freezer bag.
6. Put the paneer in freezer bags.
Squeeze out as much air as possible so that freezer burn doesn’t occur. Label the bags with the date frozen and the contents.
7. Put the freezer bags in the freezer and freeze.
How To Freeze Paneer Dishes
If you lead a hectic life, it is a great idea to batch cook and freeze what you’re not going to use immediately. Then, the night before you want to eat it, take the container out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to defrost slowly. Then all you have to do when you get home from work is to reheat it.
How To Freeze Paneer Curry
Paneer curry can be enjoyed equally by vegetarians and non-vegetarians. This is the way to freeze it.
1. Cook the curry.
Use whatever vegetables you want. Spinach goes well with paneer.
2. Cool down the curry.
Make sure that you don’t leave the curry out at room temperature for longer than two hours otherwise bacteria can start to form. To speed up the process, spoon the curry into a cold bowl.
3. Put the curry into airtight containers.
Divide the curry into meal-size portions so that you only defrost just as much as you need and don’t waste any. Wrap the containers in cling film just in case the liquid leaks and to stop the smell of curry penetrating the other food in the freezer. We advise that you don’t use freezer bags as they may leak, and also, odors will probably penetrate the bags. Label the containers with the date frozen and what is in them.
How To Freeze Mutter Paneer
Mutter paneer is a Punjabi dish consisting of peas and paneer in a tomato-based sauce and flavored with garam masala. This is how to freeze it.
- Cook the mutter paneer.
- Cool down the mutter paneer.
- Portion into meal-size portions in airtight containers.
Tips For Freezing Paneer
- It is better to freeze cooked paneer rather than uncooked as it helps the paneer to retain its texture. It only takes a few minutes to fry paneer, so it is worth it. Even better is to cook a large paneer curry and freeze some in meal-size portions.
- Make sure that the paneer has completely cooled down before you freeze it otherwise the warm paneer will bring up the temperature in the freezer. Other food in the freezer may start to defrost and when it refreezes, bacteria may start to form.
- Flash freeze the paneer cubes or slices so that they don’t stick together when you come to bag them up.
- Squeeze out all the air from the freezer bags so that freezer burn doesn’t occur.
- If you have glass containers, use these instead of plastic containers if you are freezing paneer curry. This is because curry stains plastic containers. It is less likely that glass containers will stain. In addition, glass containers will help stop odors from escaping.
- Label the containers or freezer bags.
For How Long Can You Freeze Paneer
You can freeze both paneer cubes and paneer curry for up to six months. However, it is at its best for the first three months.
How Do You Defrost Paneer?
You will want to retain the texture of your paneer as much as possible and to do this, you need to defrost the paneer slowly. The best thing to do is to take it out of the freezer the night before you want to eat it and defrost it in the fridge. Don’t defrost the paneer quickly on your countertop as this can encourage bacteria to develop and, in addition, it will probably lose a lot of texture.
Can You Refreeze Paneer?
We don’t advise you refreezing paneer. It will probably still be safe to eat but it will lose texture and taste. Every time you freeze, defrost, and refreeze, moisture is lost, and the paneer will end up dry. If you plan to use the paneer cubes in a curry you won’t notice the textural changes quite as much but it will still not be as tasty as the first time you defrosted it. If you flash freeze your paneer cubes you can take out just as many pieces you need and there will be no need to refreeze any. With curries, freeze them in meal-size portions.
Is It a Good Idea To Freeze Paneer?
Yes, we think that it is a good idea to freeze paneer. It freezes surprisingly well for a cheese. Most cheeses don’t freeze that well. Halloumi is another exception. We think that it is especially worthwhile freezing paneer in a curry as this saves a lot of time when you don’t have time to cook.
One of the unfortunate things about freezing is that flavor can disintegrate. Paneer is quite bland so you don’t have this problem. If you are freezing a paneer curry, you can just add some more spices when you are reheating it.
You will notice a slight change in texture when you come to defrost your paneer. It can become a little spongy but you will hardly notice this in a curry. An advantage is that this spongy texture absorbs flavors so if you have fried paneer cubes with spices such as garam masala, cumin, coriander, or turmeric, you will find that these flavors will be retained.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully, you now know all there is to know about freezing paneer but in case you are curious about paneer in general, we have answered a couple of questions here.
What exactly is paneer?
Paneer is an Indian cottage cheese made by curdling milk using heat and acid. It can be made from either cow or buffalo milk. It is made quickly, usually within an hour or two. It is unique in that, unlike most cheeses, it doesn’t melt when heated.
What dishes can I make with paneer?
There are so many dishes that you make with paneer. Try saag paneer which has spinach added to it. Spinach and cheese are a match made in heaven. Matar paneer is made with green peas and tomatoes. Paneer lababdar has cashews added and kadai paneer is made with peppers. The list is endless. Use your favorite sauces, be it a mild korma or a spicy madras. You can make tikka masala paneer. Thread the paneer onto skewers and add vegetables or your favorite meat. Chicken goes well with paneer. You can even make a paneer biryani.