Wondering if you can freeze paneer without losing its texture and taste? Do you know how to defrost it properly? Can you freeze the paneer uncooked? or you should cook it first? Let’s find out!
What Is Paneer Cheese?
Paneer is a moist, fresh, creamy, usually unsalted cheese native to India and Bangladesh with a soft and dense texture, made from pasteurized buffalo milk. In addition to the cuisine of North India, it is widely used in neighboring countries like Pakistan, Nepal, and Afghanistan.
Unlike other curd cheeses prepared using similar technology, paneer has a different texture: the mass hardens after cooking and becomes moderately dense and uniform, therefore it keeps its shape well and does not crumble.
On the cut, this Indian cheese is absolutely non-porous, without pronounced granularity.
Can You Freeze Paneer?
Yes, you can put the paneer cheese in the freezer to extend its shelf life. You can keep it frozen for up to 3 months. Shorter-better.
The longer you keep it in the fridge, the more it may lose its texture and it may become a little crumbly. Cooked or uncooked. You can also freeze the paneer as a whole block or cut it into small cubes.
Needed Items for Freezing:
Freezing Paneer Cubes
If needed, freeze the paneer in smaller servings, cut them into smaller cubes, put them on a plate, and move the paneer to the freezer. When the paneer cubes will obtain a harder crust on the outside, you can put them in a freezing bag.
Best Recipes to Try in The Air Fryer:
Quick Note: Make sure that you will squeeze all the air excesses.
After you put the paneer cubes in the freezer bag, put the paneer back into the freezer where you can keep it for a few months.
Freezing Whole Paneer Block
If you decide to freeze the paneer block whole, then make sure that you will cover it well in plastic wrap and then cover also with aluminum foil. By doing that, you will avoid the freezing burn and you will keep the original texture of the paneer cheese.
Also, you can freeze the paneer cooked or uncooked to keep it for even longer.
If you freeze it uncooked, you will keep more of its texture. Also after a few months, you can cook it and move it back to the freezer. In that way, you will increase the storage time of the paneer in the fridge.
General tip: When you’re freezing cheeses, it is recommended to leave them overnight in the fridge to lower their inner temperature slowly. The next day, you can put the cheeses into the freezer and you will keep the texture of the cheese.
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Best Way to Soften the Paneer?
Cut the paneer into small cubes of the size you need to serve, take a large bowl, put in it all the paneer cubes, and cover them with water for about 30 minutes. If the paneer cubes are small in size, you may reduce the soaking time to 15-20 minutes.
Best Way to Store Paneer Cheese?
Storage Store-Bought Paneer
If you are looking to keep its original texture, then you should consider only keeping it in the refrigerator in its original package until usage.
Storage Homemade Paneer
If you did the paneer at home, and you are looking for the best way to preserve the paneer for longer than the best way is to wrap the paneer into a damp muslin cloth and keep it in the refrigerator.
Quick Note: Make sure that all sides of the paneer will be wrapped in the muslin cloth.
Pro Tip: To keep the paneer’s moisture you should moisten the muslin cloth by splashing it with water every 2-4 hours. In that way, you will get the best texture (it will remain moist) from your paneer after you prepare it at home.
Don’t have a muslin cloth? Another great way to store it in the fridge is to take a large bowl, pour in it water, and drop the paneer blocks in the water until the paneer will be covered with water.
Close with a lid or another plate and keep it in the fridge.
Quick Note: The water from the bowl will help the paneer to keep fresh and moist for a few days.
Pro Tip: Experts recommend changing the water every day if you want to get the best texture from your paneer block.
Quick Note: Make sure that you cover the bowl well, otherwise the paneer may become harder and may turn sour.
How Long Does It Last in the Fridge?
If the paneer cheese is stored properly, it should last for up to 3 months in the fridge in its original sealed package. But you always should check the “best before” date on the package.
If you already opened the paneer package, it should be good for up to 2-3 days in the fridge. After the second day, you may notice that the paneer will start to lose its moisture, will harden and the texture will change.
What Happens if You Freeze Paneer?
Paneer is not the best option for freezing cheese. It’s all about its composition. It is a cheese that consists of cottage cheese and includes a large amount of moisture. When frozen, this moisture will affect the condition of the product. However, I will give you a few tips on how to get the best texture after you freeze and defrost the paneer.
Even the texture, softness, and lightness may change and the taste will be minimally affected.
So, if only the taste is important to you, you will not lose too much.
Expert Tips for Freezing Paneer
Chefs all over the world have appreciated the way they store excess cheese in the freezer and share their tips for proper freezing and use of the product after it:
Using cheap plastic containers for freezing is not a good idea. The cheap plastic will absorb any smells. Because of that, I recommend using freeze Ziploc bags, glass containers that close well, or high-quality freezing plastic containers.
Quick Note: Do not store the product in an open form (for example, on a plate). Otherwise, the paneer will absorb different odors from the freezer.
For How Long Can You Freeze It?
If you will keep it in air-tight containers in the freezer, the paneer should be good for up to 2 months after the best date on the package.
How to Defrost It?
I would say that properly defrosting is even more important than freezing the paneer. The defrosting process must proceed slowly and naturally.
A day before you plan to eat the paneer, remove it from the freezer, put it on a plate, and move it into the fridge.
Leave it overnight so it will thaw slowly.
The slower the defrosting process, the better the return to its original state.
Warning! Do not speed up the defrosting process with hot water. The taste after that is terrible. Also, don’t leave it to defrost at room temperature as you may risk growing bacteria on the paneer very quickly.
How Long Can It Sit Out at Room Temperature?
As this is a dairy product, it is not recommended to keep it at room temperature for more than 2 hours. The less – the better. If it will sit for longer, or it will be in contact with direct sunlight, there is a high chance that the bacteria will start growing and this cheese may poison you.
How to Know if It Went Bad?
First of all, make sure that it was kept in proper storage conditions. In the fridge in a well-sealed container. Right after that, make sure that the “best before” date doesn’t pass. Right after that, pay attention if you notice any differences in how the paneer smells or if you notice any changes in its visual part. If you see some smell or color differences, it will be better to not eat this paneer cheese.
I hope that you found this article helpful and now you are more confident about how to properly store the paneer without losing its texture and taste. If you also use other methods to keep the paneer, please share them with us below in the comments.
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