Another tofu question...
February 21, 2012 8:58 AM   Subscribe

What is the procedure for freezing tofu?

This recent question about tofu reminded me of one I've been meaning to ask. I've just started cooking with tofu and I read that freezing it gives a firmer, more meaty texture, which I prefer. Should I just pop the unopened package (sprouted extra firm tofu in liquid, from Trader Joe's) into the freezer for a day, or should I open it, press and drain the tofu thoroughly using paper towels and a weight and THEN wrap in plastic and freeze it? Either way, should I drain it again after it's thawed? Or doesn't it really matter? I plan to marinate it -- when/how is that done, before or after freezing? I would like the final result to be as firm and meat-like as possible. I plan to use it in a cold salad with some grains and chopped up veggies. Thanks in advance and feel free to tell me if I'm overthinking this.
posted by miaou to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I just put the whole thing in the freezer, including the water, then thaw it in the fridge. After it's thawed, I drain/press it as usual, but expect to see more drainage than usual. I would then marinate it.
posted by freshwater at 9:06 AM on February 21, 2012

Freezing makes it chewier and (oddly) foamier in my experience.
Pressing makes it denser and drier.

I freeze it when I am going to smoke it. The end result is meat-like. I place the whole container in the freezer. When it defrosts, the water drains out or is easily pressed out.
I press it if I have enough time and am going to stir fry.
posted by Seamus at 9:08 AM on February 21, 2012

Yeah, after you freeze it, it is sort-of sponge-like. You can press it, then place it in a bowl of marinade. If you press it down, it will then expand and absorb a ridiculous amount of marinade.
posted by Seamus at 9:09 AM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: . . . and I read that freezing it gives a firmer, more meaty texture, which I prefer.

In my experience, freezing most tofu makes it spongier, but also more likely to crumble when you're cooking it.

When I have to freeze it, I drain it (squeezing out most of the water, which seems to help preserve the firmness a bit), wrap it in a few plastic bags, and put it in the freezer. This will keep it for a few weeks.

Depending on where you are, you may want to see if anyone nearby is making traditional Japanese country / farmhouse-style tofu. It's much denser and firmer than even the extra-firm of Nasoya, Whole Foods 365, etc. Twin Oaks' tofu is available in quite a few places now, for example.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:17 AM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: You will never get the texture you're looking for out of Trader Joe's tofu. It'll be better after freezing than it is straight out of the package, but it still will be pretty soft by tofu standards. Unfortunately, I don't know of any national brands that get the firmness quite right.

For freezing, I usually take it out of the water, rinse it off, dry it, and then wrap it in plastic wrap. It will look discolored when it's properly frozen, but that's just fine. It can stay in the freezer for up to five days. Thaw it, and then press it thoroughly with a cloth. The texture will be drier. Marinate it afterwards and maybe toss it in the oven on 350 for fifteen or twenty minutes.
posted by vathek at 9:59 AM on February 21, 2012

I freeze it in the package and thaw in the microwave - warming it for a minute to loosen the ice from the package and then taking the whole ice/tofu mass out of the package to thaw the rest of the way. I find that you can just squeeze the water out with clean hands, working gently, and get rid of a lot more than by merely pressing. But wait until it's cooled a bit - the water inside will be hot!

I find that frozen tofu is much sturdier and drier than pressed tofu; pressed tofu is dense and firm. I think that this is because the frozen tofu has tiny water bubbles in it that freeze and then drain, leaving a sponge-like texture, whereas the merely pressed tofu is flattened. I like pressed tofu in tofu scramble - works much better than frozen.
posted by Frowner at 11:15 AM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: i slice it (6-8 per brick), press it, freeze it, thaw it, then dry fry and marinate it. it's delicious.
posted by nadawi at 4:14 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've done it in this order: drain, cut into bites, freeze, thaw, pour off liquid, press lightly with tea towel, coat in sauce, cook. This works for me, but I've never tried it any other way so it could be that freezing it whole works out better.
posted by lakeroon at 4:47 PM on February 21, 2012

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