Can curry paste be frozen? - The Ultimate Guide
If you’ve ever walked past a Thai restaurant, chances are you envision the mouthwatering aroma of a variety of beautiful and flavorful curries. The aroma that arises the moment a quality curry paste hits a hot pan is nothing short of heavenly.
The best Thai curries are made with fresh ingredients, mixed to form a paste. Whether you’ve bought a packet of curry paste designed for more than one use, or made a large batch of curry paste yourself, you won’t want to waste a single bite of the delicious ingredient.
Can curry paste be frozen? Yes, you can freeze curry paste, although there are plenty of caveats to keep in mind before doing so. The real secret to freezing curry paste is to section leftovers into single-serving packages.
We’ve put together a curry paste guide to explain all the best practices for freezing curry paste and how to use it.
The Ultimate Guide to Freezing Curry Paste
There are 2 easy and convenient ways to freeze curry paste in single serving packs.
- Use ice cube trays
- Curry ingredients can stain plastic, so before you measure the paste into an ice cube tray, spray the tray with cooking spray or put a small amount of cooking oil in a bowl and use a brush. to grease the inside of the tray. This will help protect the plastic from stains without altering the flavor or ruining the pasta.
- Once this is done, measure the amount of pasta needed for your favorite recipes and add that amount to each position on the tray.
- Stick it in the freezer until the pasta is completely frozen, at least 2 hours to be sure.
- Once each cube is completely frozen, you can remove them from the tray and place them all in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag or Tupperware container.
- If you freeze them individually first, they won’t stick together and you can scoop out a cube each time you need it.
- Use a plastic wrap
- Take out a sheet of plastic wrap and place it on the counter.
- Measure individual servings of your curry paste and place them in small portions or balls on the plastic wrap, about 2 inches apart in rows.
- When you have all the curry paste, take out another plastic sheet and place it on top of the first one.
- Press around the edges of each curry paste ball and use kitchen shears to snip between each line of paste touches.
- Once trimmed, wrap the plastic tightly around the curry paste to seal it well.
- At this point, you can place all of the individually wrapped curry paste balls into a single freezer-safe Ziploc bag or Tupperware container and remove one at a time as needed.
When not to freeze curry paste
Elite cooks often advise against freezing curry paste or any paste or dish that contains garlic or onion in the recipe. When members of the allium family are frozen and then thawed, they tend to turn sour and lose much of their natural sweetness.
If you have a very fine palate, you may not want to freeze the curry paste at all, but make or buy only as much as you can use in a few weeks.
How to thaw frozen curry paste
In most recipes, the curry paste is fried before the rest of the ingredients are added. Therefore, it is not necessary to thaw frozen curry paste before using it. Just add it to a pan with a little oil, like your recipe calls for, and let it thaw while it cooks.
If you prefer to work with thawed curry paste, you can take out a bucket or portion wrapped in plastic the night before you know you’re going to cook with it.
Store it in the fridge until you need it. It should only take an hour or two to fully thaw in your fridge. If you need it faster, you can let it defrost on the counter.
How to tell if your curry paste has gone bad
If you don’t keep your curry paste in the fridge or freezer, it will go bad after a few days . The ingredients have some natural preserving power, but the oil goes rancid if not stored properly.
If you have accidentally forgotten to store it properly, you may notice a fermentation smell or even mold growth.
However, if you have stored the curry paste in the fridge or freezer, it is highly unlikely that it will go bad. Many people including myself have reported using refrigerated curry paste even after a year with no ill effects.
However, the maximum nutritional value and flavor will start to fade after a week, and then it will go downhill rather quickly.
If you’ve bought a store-brand, it will likely have preservatives to protect the flavor, but that will come at a cost in nutritional value.
If you make your own, you’ll start to notice a difference within a week , probably 2, even though there’s nothing specifically wrong with your pasta and it’s still safe to eat.
curry paste vs. curry sauce
Curry paste is a thick, wet mixture of fresh ingredients and oil , often deep-fried to bring out the individual flavors before adding the liquid ingredients to your dish.
The curry sauce, on the other hand, is the final product that includes and broth, coconut milk and/or additional ingredients with which you can fill your curry dish. Generally, the sauce does not include rice or noodles, but is usually served with one or the other.
freeze curry sauce
If you’ve made a sauce from your curry paste, but haven’t eaten it all, you can freeze the entire sauce. This is completely safe and a brilliant idea if you like quick and easy freezer meals.
Sauced, casserole-type foods usually freeze very well, as the liquid protects the ingredients from freezer burn and helps them maintain their consistency.
When it comes to freezing a curry sauce, the most important thing to consider is the additional ingredients in the sauce.
Each individual component will freeze differently, so you want to make sure everything in your sauce is reasonable to freeze.
Some common ingredients in curry sauces that are not ideal for freezing can be
- Coconut Milk – Although you can freeze it just fine, the consistency can change as the fat and water tend to separate when frozen. Try not to keep it frozen for too long (consume within a few months if possible), and be prepared for a slightly grainy texture in the liquid, although the flavor should hold up well.
- Dairy – Heavy cream is used in many curry sauces and freezes very well, but lower fat dairy, including yoghurt, often splits when thawed and reheated. If possible, save some of your curry sauce to freeze before adding dairy, and simply pop in fresh when you’re ready to cook your meal.
- Meat – Meat freezes fine once, but if you work with previously frozen meat, you’ll start to notice differences in texture if it’s refrozen. If it’s frozen raw, cooked, and refrozen, you shouldn’t notice any problems, but try not to refreeze cooked meat .
- Vegetables with a high water content : If you add vegetables that have a lot of water, such as tomatoes, for example, you may find that your curry thaws with much more liquid than the original dish had. It shouldn’t alter the flavor too much, and you can thicken it with a starchy ingredient when you reheat it if you prefer.
- Rice or pasta: Keep curry sauce separate from rice or noodles, as they don’t freeze well. They will get mushy and ruin your sauce.
What is the difference between red, green and yellow curry paste?
Red, green and yellow curries are often Thai-based, with chili as the core of their recipe. Each color is accented with different supporting flavors.
Red curry is made with red chillies, garlic, ginger, and lemongrass or citrus zest, depending on what you have available.
Thai green curry has a very different flavor and can be made with green chillies, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, or citrus zest, along with a healthy dose of coriander, basil, and mint.
Lastly, the signature ingredient in Thai yellow curry is turmeric, often combined with cumin and coriander.
How long does homemade curry paste last?
You can store a fresh curry paste in the fridge, either homemade or store-bought and freshly opened, for up to 2 weeks.
However, it is best to use it as soon as possible , because the flavors have a tendency to evaporate into the air.
How can I substitute curry paste for curry powder?
Curry powder is a dry mix of different spices, while paste is a combination of fresh ingredients and oil, mixed together to form a wet paste.
Another key difference is that curry paste is often used to make Thai curry dishes, while you’re more likely to find curry powder in Indian dishes, which have a very different flavor profile.
If you were to add oil to curry powder to make a paste, you could change it up in a recipe and you would probably end up with a unique and delicious dish, but it would be nothing like what the recipe intended. Curry powder is not a good substitute for curry paste.