We’ve all had those moments of grocery store frenzy where we brought way more cheese home than we intended! However, while fresh cheeses like paneer may be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks, what if you want to enjoy any leftover paneer much longer? Can paneer be frozen? Fresh paneer that won’t be consumed immediately can be frozen to preserve it. To prevent changes to its texture and flavor, it is crucial to minimize exposure to moisture and air. Paneer should be cut into cubes and quickly fried before freezing for optimal results.
Paneer can be stored by freezing, but it must be done carefully to keep it in the best shape. Continue reading to learn how to preserve fresh cheese, like paneer, for a longer period of time if you have a lot of it.
What Is Paneer?
Paneer, an Indian cheese with a solid yet soft texture, is a popular snack. It is best described as light, spongy, and slightly squeaky. It has a white appearance and a mild, cheesy flavor. Paneer is unique in that it does not melt or soften when heated or cooked. As a result, it is frequently used as an ingredient in Indian dishes such as curries. It is an excellent source of protein, especially if you are vegetarian.
Paneer is a fresh cheese that is quick and easy to create, with a batch ready to eat in only a couple of hours. In fact, with only a few simple ingredients, you can create paneer yourself! With only some fresh milk and lemon juice, you’ll have a batch of paneer ready for dinner in no time. Fresh paneer, on the other hand, is now commonly accessible at many specialty food stores.
Paneer is created by heating cow or buffalo milk and then adding an acid like lemon juice to curdle the milk. Unlike rennet-based cheeses, this easy procedure produces a cheese that does not melt when heated. The mixture is strained through cheesecloth or muslin to collect the curds, with the liquid whey saved for flatbreads. The curds are then rinsed and pressed for 1-2 hours in a spherical mold until they stick together and all the extra liquid has drained out.
Paneer’s spongy nature allows it to absorb the flavors of sauces and marinades nicely. It can be eaten raw, but it is more typically cooked and combined with other ingredients – we love a good palak paneer! It can be boiled, fried, or grilled without losing its shape, though cooking it for too long can result in a rubbery texture.
Can You Freeze Paneer?
A form of cheese called as paneer is considered to be fresh cheese because it does not age. Fresh cheeses, as opposed to aged cheeses, are meant to be consumed quickly. Fresh paneer cooked at home has a very limited shelf life and should be consumed within 1-2 days to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Paneer purchased from a store is often vacuum-packed and has a two-week best-before date. But after it’s been opened, it needs to be eaten within a day or two.
What does this mean for you, then, if you have a lot of paneer that won’t be used up in the next several days? Can paneer be frozen, or does it have to be thrown away?
The good news is that by adhering to a few easy procedures, you can freeze paneer. After that, you’ll always have frozen paneer available in your freezer for use. Therefore, it would be a good idea to prepare the paneer for freezing if you don’t think you’ll be able to finish it the following day.
The full cheese lump cannot simply be placed in the freezer to freeze paneer, though. Large chunks of paneer may defrost with a rubbery texture if they were frozen. This makes it easier to use your defrosted paneer later by making it best to chop this fresh cheese into cubes and flash fried them before freezing. Although frozen paneer cubes keep a better texture than entire paneer, cubed paneer loses flavor more quickly.
How To Freeze Paneer
When storing leftover paneer, you must select whether to freeze it raw or cooked. While raw paneer can be frozen and defrosted effectively, boiling it first preserves the flavor and texture of this delectable fresh cheese! And, as we’ve previously discovered, chopping the paneer into cubes prevents it from turning rubbery and unappealing. Because paneer is typically consumed in cubes, cutting it into cubes before freezing it makes perfect sense.
How To Freeze Cooked Paneer
The texture of this tasty cheese can be preserved by lightly frying paneer in oil. The ideal technique is as follows:
Fresh paneer should be cut into bite-sized cubes. At this point, if you want to add flavor, you can dust them with a mixture of dried and ground spices.
On the stovetop, warm a little amount of mildly flavored oil (such peanut or sunflower oil).
The paneer cubes should only be lightly fried for one to two minutes on each side, or until golden.
Lift the cooked paneer from the skillet with a slotted spoon and lay it on some paper towels to soak up any extra oil.
After allowing the paneer to cool, flash-freeze the cubes on a baking sheet for three hours. To avoid the cubes adhering together, make sure they are arranged in a single layer.
When the cubes are frozen, tip them into a zip-lock bag and squeeze out as much air as you can before securing it.
Put the bag back in the freezer after marking it with the contents and the date.
This process might take a little bit longer than freezing raw paneer, but it’s worth it to preserve the cheese’s quality!
How To Freeze Uncooked Paneer
If you want to save some raw paneer for salads and cold dishes, here’s how to do it:
Slice or cube the paneer into bite-size cubes.
Place the paneer pieces in a single layer on a baking tray that has been lined with parchment paper.
Place the tray in the freezer for 3 hours, or until the paneer is completely frozen on the outside.
Place the cubes in a zip-lock bag and squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing it tightly.
Return the bag to the freezer after labeling it with the contents and the date.
This procedure prevents raw paneer from sticking together, allowing you to take only enough from the freezer at a time rather than defrosting the entire batch.
How To Freeze A Package Of Paneer
You can extend the life of paneer by freezing it if you have an entire box that you won’t likely consume before the best-before date:
Store-bought paneer should be kept in its original, unopened packaging and put inside a ziplock bag to prevent freezer burn.
Use a layer of plastic wrap as additional defense against air and moisture if the cheese has been opened.
The paneer should be cut into cubes and frozen using one of the methods mentioned above for optimal results. However, if you’re in a hurry, freezing the paneer whole has no downsides.
However, there is a chance that the texture will become rubbery, and when it comes time to use it, you’ll obviously need to defrost the entire paneer at once.
How Long Can Paneer Stay Frozen?
Because paneer is a fresh cheese with a high moisture content, it does not have a lengthy shelf life when frozen.
Store-bought paneer that has been frozen whole in its original packing will keep for 6-8 weeks after the best-before date on the label.
Diced, pre-cooked paneer (homemade or store-bought) can be frozen for up to 6 months, although the flavor may fade.
If you’ve frozen raw paneer cubes, try to eat them within 3 months.
How To Defrost Frozen Paneer
Frozen paneer can be defrosted most effectively in the refrigerator overnight. This will increase your chances of keeping the delicate, spongey texture that so effectively absorbs other flavors.
Take your paneer out of the freezer and put it in a container that is airtight. This will lessen the likelihood that it will pick up other tastes and scents from the refrigerator.
Put the container in the refrigerator for the duration of the night so the cheese may thoroughly thaw. The cheese will retain its original texture and have less of a chance of becoming contaminated with bacteria thanks to this gradual defrosting.
In the event that you diced your paneer before freezing it, you can remove only what you need for your dish and keep the rest frozen for another day.
The paneer can be quickly defrosted in a warm water bath or at room temperature. Be wary though, since this could substantially change the cheese’s texture, making it rubbery, crumbly, and generally fairly unpleasant!