Polenta is an incredibly versatile but often underused source of carbohydrates, fiber, and protein.
It can be eaten as a porridge, used as a replacement for other grains such as rice or couscous, and can even be fried up or grilled.
Polenta is a strangely soft yet firm food and usually comes as dry grains or in a premade solid chunk. This is great for lots of meals as you can slice off a few pieces to cook or add milk or water and heat it up.
Polenta is a dense food and is difficult to eat in large quantities. So, what can you do if you have some leftover but don’t want to waste it? Can you freeze it? Yes, yes you can.
How to Freeze Polenta
The best way to freeze polenta is in individual slices. When polenta is frozen, it takes on a lot of water so will be too soft to slice when defrosted.
Now, to actually freeze the polenta, you can place it in a bag or a tub or you can lay the slices out on a tray.
If you decide to freeze it in a bag or a tub, don’t just place it straight in. Even if you slice the polenta up, this won’t make much of a difference as they will stick together when they freeze. To make sure they don’t stick together, wrap them up in aluminum foil.
This will stop them from sticking and also make sure that the moisture doesn’t leave and cause the polenta to dry out. After wrapping them, carefully place them in a freezer bag or a plastic tub. A tub is the better option as it will help the polenta to keep its shape.
If you have the space, you can also place the slices of polenta on a baking tray. Make sure the slices are spread out and have about an inch or so between them. Then place that inside a large freezer bag. Press the bag gently to make sure all of the air is out and then seal the bag.
If you’re freezing a creamier version of polenta, then you need to do things a bit differently. If the polenta has been cooked on the hob, make sure to let it cool completely before transferring it to a freezable container.
Once it is cool and in a freezable container, it’s a good idea to place it in the refrigerator to chill a little. Placing it in the refrigerator will allow it to cool down gradually. When something creamy is subjected to extreme temperatures, such as in a freezer, it can separate.
So, leave it in the refrigerator until it feels cold and then transfer it to the freezer. This might all seem like an unnecessarily long process, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Taking the time to do this will save you from potentially having to throw away spoiled polenta later on.
How to Defrost Polenta
Defrosting polenta is a relatively simple process. The best way is by unwrapping it and placing it on a plate in the refrigerator. This will allow it to thaw out slowly and gently.
Once they are completely defrosted, pat the slices down with paper towels. While they were frozen, the slices will have taken on a lot of water which will make them difficult to cook.
The best way to cook defrosted polenta slices is under the oven grill or on a BBQ grill. This will quickly cook the polenta without drying it out or allowing it to collapse and come apart.
Although polenta is dense, it is surprisingly fragile. It can break apart easily so make sure to handle it gently when it has defrosted. It will be holding more moisture so will be more likely to fall apart and break. This isn’t a good thing if you want to eat them in slices or as fries.
The best way to defrost creamed polenta is also in the refrigerator. This will make it less likely to separate. But that is still a possibility, so make sure to mix it after it has thawed as this will help it to become combined again.
Factors to Consider Before Freezing Polenta
The most important thing to consider before freezing polenta is what ingredients are included in it. Polenta can come in many various forms with very different consistencies. To make sure the texture doesn’t change and the moisture isn’t lost, make sure to follow all of the tips above.
Another thing to consider is what you plan to use the polenta for. If you are going to grill it, then this is fine as the heat will help any water that the polenta has taken on to evaporate.
It will also help the polenta slices keep their shape, as they can become more fragile and breakable after being frozen.
When choosing how to freeze the polenta, consider how you will slice and separate it. Slicing the polenta and storing it in separate slices is a good idea.
This is also a good way of making sure it doesn’t go to waste, as you can just take out a few portions as and when you need it, instead of defrosting the whole block.
Another thing to consider when freezing polenta porridge is that it may set. When polenta porridge cools completely, it may become solid and more like the kind you buy to then slice up.
This may make it a little trickier to cream when you heat it up again. But, try placing it in a pot on the hob and adding a little milk, cream, or yogurt. This might help.
Overall, the answer is yes, you can freeze polenta. It’s best to freeze solid polenta slices, rather than the soft and creamy version.
When freezing the slices, make sure to keep them separate and to freeze them in portions.
While it is possible to freeze creamed polenta, it’s not the best idea.