Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a vegetarian source of protein. This great meat substitute unfortunately doesn’t last very long. Once opened, tofu will not last more than 3 to 5 days.
The good news is that it can be frozen to prolong its shelf life. When freezing tofu, you will need to remove excess moisture before placing it in the freezer. You may even find that the texture once thawed is preferable over that of fresh tofu.
Here is a full guide on how to prepare your tofu for freezer storage and how to use it after freezing.
Types of Tofu
Tofu is generally described as having a bland or slightly beany flavor. Its neutral flavor and porous texture make it perfect to absorb sauces and soak up flavors from marinades and seasonings. This allows it to take on a versatile flavor profile.
Tofu is prepared by coagulating soy milk which is essentially derived from soybeans. The coagulation process produces soybean curds which are pressed to form tofu cakes or blocks.
Tofu can be classified as unpressed or pressed. It is sold immersed in water to retain moisture, freshness, and prevent bacterial growth.
The tofu blocks are white, off-white, or slightly yellow in color and vary in softness. As with cheese, you get soft tofu, firm tofu, and extra-firm tofu varieties. As opposed to fresh varieties, processed tofu can be preserved, pickled, or fermented.
Tofu can be eaten raw, fried, grilled, stewed, stir-fried, added in soup, stuffed, or cooked in sauce or syrup.
See more: What does tofu taste like?
Can Tofu Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze tofu. To prevent having ice crystals form on the inside and outside of the tofu and causing freezer burn, it should be pressed, or drained before freezing.
Freezing will result in a firmer, chewier texture that many diners actually prefer. The tofu will also turn yellow on freezing which is normal, and nothing to be concerned about.
When preparing your tofu for freezing, make sure it is fresh and not nearing its expiry. Freezing tofu will not revive its quality. If it is close to expiring, it is better to use it straight away or throw it out.
When freezing, ensure the tofu is well protected from contact with air and moisture by keeping it in airtight packaging. This will prevent freezer burn and preserve the quality of the tofu.
How To Freeze Tofu
Step 1: Drain
Remove the tofu from its packaging and discard any excess water.
Step 2: Press
Place the tofu on a clean absorbent kitchen towel. Cover the top of the tofu with a kitchen towel as well. Place a heavy, flat object such as a clean wooden or glass cutting board, or a skillet on top of the tofu.
The object should be heavy enough to apply some pressure but not so heavy that it will squash the tofu. The applied pressure will slowly press out the excess water.
Step 3: Cut (Optional)
After an hour, the tofu should feel dry and firm. Remove the weight and the wet toweling. You can freeze the tofu as whole blocks, or simply cut it into smaller portions, slices, or squares.
Keep in mind that if you do freeze the entire block, you will have to thaw and use the whole portion at one time.
Step 4: Pack
Place the tofu inside a resealable freezer bag. If you have sliced the tofu, separate the slices with layers of wax paper so that they do not stick to each other. Once you have packed the tofu in the freezer bag, lightly press out any air, and zip it closed.
Alternatively, use an airtight freezer safe container.
Step 5: Label and Freeze
Label the freezer bag or container with the contents and date. Freeze.
How To Thaw Frozen Tofu
Remove the tofu from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator to thaw for a few hours or overnight.
Whether you are making a curry, stir fries, soup, or a sandwich, tofu can be incorporated as a healthy meat alternative. You can pan fry tofu or enjoy it deep-fried, grilled on a barbecue, or smothered in a delicious sauce.
With a short shelf life, freezing tofu is a great answer to preventing waste and also gives the tofu a more preferable texture for cooking.
Remove excess moisture before freezing and keep it well protected from contact with air. Now you can make use of in-store specials to stock up for 3 to 6 months at a time.
See more: Does tofu go bad?
*image by e_mikh/depositphotos