Can You Freeze Cooked Lentils?
Lentils are one of those foods where it’s really easy to cook far too much. If you’ve found yourself with an abundance, you may be wondering whether it’s possible to freeze cooked lentils.
What Are Lentils?
Lentils are an edible type of legume. Canada and India produce the majority of the worlds lentil crops. Lentils come in a variety of colours including yellow, green and black.
Lentils can be eaten an used in a variety of dishes, most notably the Indian dish Dal. They are also used in soups, stews and salads. Lentils are most often associated with vegetarian and vegan cooking.
Lentils are cheap, easy to cook and are a great way to bulk up dishes. They have a mild flavour so absorb other flavours and seasonings well.
Dried lentils will never need freezing – they will keep for up 2-3 years if stored under the right conditions, and will likely still be safe to eat even after this time.
Can Cooked Lentils Be Frozen?
Yes, cooked lentils can be frozen – both as they are and as part of another dish such as a curry or a soup.
Cooking and freezing lentils ahead of time could actually save you time and money. If you often make dishes that require cooked lentils, having them ready in the freezer will mean you can get them out and use them straight in the dish you’re making from frozen or by quickly defrosting them first (see below for defrosting instructions).
While you can buy ready-cooked lentils in a tin, this option is significantly more expensive than buying them dried and cooking them yourself.
How To Freeze Cooked Lentils
If you’re cooking lentil to use in other dishes at a later date, it’s worth undercooking them slightly. It’s also worth noting freezing cooked lentil does change the texture slightly – they become slightly mushier and have less bite and shape than before.
However, they are still perfectly delicious and edible.
- Before freezing your cooked lentils, ensure they are fully cooled from the cooking process.
- If freezing cooked lentils from a tin, give them a good rinse in cold water.
- Allow the lentils to drain for as long as you can.
- Once cooled and drins split into the portion sizes you think you’ll need – the smaller the portion size the easier they are to defrost.
- Split the portions between either freezer bags, plastic freezer containers or jars (or a combination of all three if you need to!)
- Date and label the lentils.
- Lentils keep well in the freezer for up to six months
If you’re freezing lentils as part of another dish, such as a soup or curry, it’s worth seeing if the recipe you are using has any specific instructions for you to follow.
Can you freeze and reheat lentils?
Yes, lentils that have been frozen can be reheated – either as they are or when added to another dish such as stew.
When reheating any food product it’s important to ensure it is piping hot all the way through and reheated to a minimum of 75 degrees C (you can check the temperature using a food probe if you’re worried!)
They can be reheated in boiling water, by adding them to an already hot dish such as an ingredient in a soup or in the microwave. The lentils can be reheated from both a frozen and defrosted state.
How To Defrost Cooked Lentils / How To Thaw Lentils
Of course, before reheating your cooked lentils, you may want to defrost them first. Lentils can be defrosted in the fridge overnight or on the countertop for a couple of hours – however, do ensure they don’t stay out longer than this and are then refrigerated until needed.
Also remember that the larger the frozen portion of lentils, the longer it will take to defrost.