Frozen tofu has a meatier texture that is perfect for grilling and baking. Here are some tips and guidelines for freezing tofu.
When frozen, cooked tofu may not develop any significant change in texture, provided it is saturated with liquids.
Wondering what to do with the large block of leftover tofu? You may whip up some extra tofu dishes or store it. When it comes to storing tofu, there are two options. You may store it for up to seven days in the refrigerator. In that case, you have to keep it immersed in filtered water that has to be changed daily.
Freezing tofu is the second method, which is ideal for those who want to store tofu for an extended period. A few blocks of tofu in the freezer will always come handy, especially at times when you have unexpected guests for dinner.
Frozen tofu has a slightly altered texture that is preferred by many. You may freeze tofu for extending its shelf life or for flavor enhancement. Usually, firm and extra-firm types are frozen, but other types like silken tofu can also be stored in the freezer. You may use both fresh tofu as well as the packed one for freezing.
Method I – Freeze Leftover/Fresh Tofu
- Before freezing, ensure that you drain the tofu properly. If it is not drained properly before freezing, the leftover water will form ice pockets that will transform to holes, when the tofu is thawed. Remove excess water, so that the tofu remains firm and stable, even after freezing.
- Place tofu on a folded kitchen towel. You may use paper towels instead of the kitchen towel. Press the tofu gently, so that the water in it is absorbed by the towel.
- Cover it with another towel, and place a heavy object that covers the entire surface of the tofu block. The object must not be heavy enough to crush the tofu.
- Let it sit for at least half an hour, before you remove the towels. Once done, cover the tofu with plastic wrap, and place it inside a resealable plastic bag.
- Keep it in the freezer. You may cut the tofu block into small pieces or crumble it, before freezing.
Method II – Freeze Tofu in the Package
- Vacuum-packed tofu can be directly stored in the freezer. You may also take it out of the package and drain before freezing.
- Water-packed tofu must be drained and sealed properly before freezing.
- Silken tofu has to be taken out of the package, before freezing. Cut it into medium-sized chunks, and place the pieces on a tray lined with parchment paper. Place the tray inside the freezer. Once frozen, remove the tofu pieces and pack them in resealable plastic bags, before storing them again in the freezer.
How Long to Freeze Tofu
If frozen properly, tofu can be used for up to five or six months from the date of packing. However, it is advisable to use it within three months. Some people freeze tofu for altering its texture. In that case, it takes around 24 to 48 hours for freezing.
If changing the texture is the only reason for freezing tofu, it is better to cut it into strips beforehand. You can prepare crispy fried tofu using these frozen pieces. All you need to do is to take them out and place them in between paper towels. Press gently to remove moisture. Drop them in a pan of boiling water. Simmer for eight to ten minutes. Remove from water and drain. Sauté over high heat, till they turn brown and crispy.
How to Use Frozen Tofu
Thawing: Like many other food items, frozen tofu has to be thawed before cooking. You need not thaw frozen tofu for preparing some recipes. So, go through the instructions prior to cooking. For thawing, keep the frozen tofu inside the refrigerator overnight. If you are in a hurry, immerse the frozen tofu in a bowl of warm water. Once done, press it gently to remove extra water. If you have frozen crumbled tofu, thawing is not necessary. Even sliced tofu can be used directly from the freezer, provided you have drained it properly before storage.
Preparation: Frozen tofu may become slightly yellowish, but it does not affect the taste in any way. Sometimes, the normal color may return once the tofu is thawed. The change in texture may vary with the type of tofu and the extent of drainage before storage. While the firm types develop a spongy and crumbly texture due to freezing, silken tofu may turn chewy. So frozen tofu should not be used for creamy recipes, but it can be used in soups, salads, sandwiches, and stir fries. If the tofu becomes crumbly, scramble it. Once frozen, tofu develops a porous structure that absorbs sauces and marinades quickly. This may result in a much stronger flavor.
Tofu is so versatile that it imbibes a whole lot of flavors, and can be used in several recipes ranging from desserts to stir fries and curries. Freezing tofu is advantageous in many ways. You can buy and store tofu in bulk, and use it as and when required. Those who make tofu at home can also store it this way. If you like the chewy texture of frozen tofu, freeze it before use. Now that you know the benefits of freezing tofu, try the different tofu recipes with the frozen variant.