Tofu is a protein-rich vegan food that is made from condensed and pressed soy milk. It is usually sold in blocks that resemble cheese, and it’s incredibly versatile, being used as both a cheese or meat replacement in various recipes.
Tofu is suitable for freezing and can be defrosted in a variety of ways, including in the microwave, in the refrigerator, and in the freezer.
You might consider freezing tofu to extend the shelf life of this product, but freezing it also comes with a number of other benefits. When tofu freezes, ice crystals form inside it, and when these melt during the thawing process, tiny holes are left in the tofu.
This gives the tofu a spongy texture which helps it absorb sauces and marinades to make it tastier when cooking. The spongy texture is also beneficial when cooking because it will hold together better compared to tofu which has not been frozen.
Can You Freeze Tofu?
Freezing tofu is a great way to extend the shelf life of this popular vegan food. If you have only eaten half of your block of tofu, then you can save the rest for another meal by freezing it until you need it, preventing it from going bad in the meantime.
If you’ve bought tofu that’s nearing its ‘best before date’ you can also freeze this so that you have tofu on hand when you need it. Most types of tofu are suitable for freezing, though firm and extra-firm varieties are best suited to freezing. Silken tofu does not freeze well because it loses its spreadable consistency, so this is best avoided.
Does Frozen Tofu Taste The Same?
Some people freeze tofu intentionally to change the flavor and texture because the freezing process can be beneficial for certain tofu recipes. Freezing tofu will soften some of the nutty notes in the food, so this is useful if you prefer your tofu to taste less nutty. Freezing it also alters the texture, making it less prone to falling apart when cooked, and more sponge-like so that it holds onto marinades better.
If you are using tofu as a meat replacement in a recipe, for example instead of chicken in a curry, then tofu that has previously been frozen will hold itself together better for this purpose. After being defrosted, the tofu will have a more meaty texture, making it an excellent meat substitute.
How Long Can Tofu Be Frozen?
You can store tofu in the freezer for several months, keeping it fresh until you need to use it. Tofu will be best if it has been frozen for a maximum of 3 to 4 months.
During this time range, the tofu will have maintained its flavor and texture. You can keep tofu in the freezer for up to 6 to 8 months and it will still be safe to eat, however by this time it may have started to lose some of its taste and texture.
How Long to Defrost Tofu?
The length of time it takes to defrost tofu will depend on which method of defrosting you choose. If you need your tofu in a hurry then microwaving will defrost it the most quickly, at around 6 to 10 minutes depending on the size of the tofu block.
You can also defrost tofu on your kitchen counter at room temperature, and this will take between 4 and 6 hours. Defrosting in the refrigerator takes the longest, at around 8 hours, though most recommend it is allowed to defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
Ways to Defrost Tofu
The way you defrost your tofu won’t affect the condition of the tofu, so use whichever method you feel more comfortable with.
Defrost Tofu in Microwave
If you’ve forgotten to defrost your tofu in advance and you need it immediately for a recipe, you can defrost it in the microwave. A standard-sized block of tofu will take around 8 minutes on the defrost setting of your microwave, but it’s best to check on it every few minutes.
Defrost Tofu in Refrigerator
Defrosting tofu in the refrigerator takes the longest, but is also the most hassle-free. You can move your tofu straight from the freezer to the refrigerator and leave it overnight. It can be kept in the original packaging or whatever storage you used for it in the freezer.
Defrost Tofu at Room Temperature
If you need your tofu for an evening meal then you can get it out of the freezer and let it defrost on the countertop anytime before midday. Unpackage your tofu and put it on a plate, then let it defrost down to room temperature for around six hours. Once defrosted, it can be kept in the refrigerator until needed.
How Long Does Defrosted Tofu Last?
After the tofu has been opened, it only has a shelf life of between 3 and 5 days in the refrigerator. This is why freezing tofu is so useful because you can freeze half a pack of leftover tofu and save it for a future meal if you aren’t likely to use a whole block within 5 days.
After being frozen and then defrosted, the tofu will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. It should not be refrozen after it has thawed because this will make it soggy and unpleasant.