Quinoa is one of those dishes that has become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to the rise of the veganism movement.
It’s a really healthy grain that has been popular in South America for centuries but is only now gaining notoriety in the States.
It’s yummy and an excellent rice alternative if you fancy a change.
Quinoa boasts a long shelf life when uncooked, but as it is still not regularly available in the US you may want to stock up while you can.
If you find yourself with a ridiculous amount of quinoa which you think you will be unable to eat, or you come across a packet which is close to its use by date there’s no need to worry.
Quinoa can be frozen, and it is surprisingly easy to do. So if you want to prolong the shelf life of your quinoa, this guide is perfect for you.
How to freeze quinoa
While quinoa is incredibly yummy, it can be a bit tedious to cook and so you may decide to meal prep your quinoa in advance.
That way you will have a batch of quinoa readily available whenever you want it. This is a great idea because quinoa freezes well and the freezing process is surprisingly simple.
The first thing you need to do before freezing your quinoa is cook it. You can use your usual method to do this, but if you are new to cooking quinoa, the process is simple.
All you have to do is add your quinoa to a saucepan. It is important that for every 1 part quinoa you also have 2 parts water. Once you have added the water and quinoa you should simmer the saucepan over heat for between 15 and 20 minutes.
You will be able to tell that the quinoa is cooked when the water has been absorbed, all you have left to do is fluff the quinoa with a fork.
You should remove the quinoa from the heat and leave to cool. The best way to do this is to transfer the quinoa onto a lined baking tray as thin as possible and leave the tray on the countertop.
It is essential that the quinoa has cooled to room temperature before freezing so that the consistency is not damaged by moisture in the freezing process.
After the quinoa has cooled completely you can then transfer it into an airtight container or a freezer-safe bag. If you are using a freezer bag you should remove as much air as possible before you seal it.
If you are using an airtight container you should leave an inch of space at the top in case the mixture expands during freezing. You should label the container/bag with the date of storage then lay the package flat in the freezer.
Simply leave it there until you decide you want to eat the quinoa in the future.
How to defrost quinoa
So the time has come for you to eat the quinoa you prepared, and froze, earlier. As we’ve already stated, uncooked quinoa has a very long shelf-life outside of the freezer, but cooked quinoa does not.
By freezing your cooked quinoa you can extend its shelf life from a couple of days to upwards of 2 months, giving you plenty of time to enjoy it.
As with everything that you freeze, for the best taste and consistency, you should eat the quinoa as soon as possible after freezing. You have two different options to choose between when defrosting your quinoa which will be better suited depending on how quickly you want to eat the quinoa.
The first is simple, and a very common way to defrost frozen foods. When you decide that you want to eat the quinoa you can simply take the container out of the fridge and leave it on the countertop.
The quinoa will defrost at room temperature and will have thawed thoroughly within 2 hours of its removal from the freezer. From there you can prepare the quinoa as you wish and enjoy.
If 2 hours is too long to wait, you could also defrost the quinoa in the microwave. This is a lot quicker, but like with most foods, the microwave will add more moisture to the quinoa and alter the consistency slightly.
But this is a small price to pay when you can eat your quinoa so quickly. Simply heat the quinoa in the microwave for 1 minute and it will be ready for you to eat.
Factors to consider before freezing quinoa
Before you decide to freeze your quinoa, there are some things that you should consider doing.
There are some choices you can make throughout the freezing process which could be helpful in the future. The main one is freezing the quinoa in portions rather than in bulk.
If you are the only person eating quinoa, it is unlikely you will want to eat a whole bag by yourself all at once.
To freeze the quinoa in portions you can cook it as usual, then store it in separate containers/bags instead of in one container. This will allow you to simply take one bag out of the freezer to defrost and reduce unnecessary waste.
Alternatively, you may decide not to cook the quinoa at all. It might seem like a strange option but if you wish to, you can freeze uncooked quinoa. As quinoa has a long shelf life anyway this won’t always be appropriate.
But if you have a packet that is coming to the end of its shelf life you could freeze the quinoa to extend this. Simply pour the quinoa into an airtight container, label it with the storage date, and place it in the freezer.
This will extend the shelf life of quinoa by 6-12 months.
So in short the answer is yes, you can freeze quinoa.
If you want to meal prep, freezing cooked quinoa can be a great way to reduce the time it takes you to prepare meals in the future, especially as freezing quinoa is so simple.