For those who want to abstain from meat, falafel is a delicious alternative meal, consisting of deep-fried chickpeas that can be prepared in the form of balls, burgers, or even waffles. In typical Middle Eastern dishes, they’re served in pita bread sandwiches and accompanied by hummus (a chickpea-based dip) or tahini (a sauce made from sesame seeds). Falafel is an amazing source of fiber and protein. Moreover, it may help you feel satiated and regulate your blood sugar. Nevertheless, you should be mindful that it contains lots of trans fats and calories, particularly when it’s deep-fried, which is usually the case. It’s also fit for parties and family dinners, and it might run out easily and quickly. However, if you happen to have too many falafel leftovers or too much falafel mix on your kitchen counter, you may be thinking about these questions. Can you freeze falafel? How long does falafel last in the fridge? How to cook frozen falafel?
Yes, you can actually freeze falafel. In fact, falafel freezes very well, provided that you applied all the necessary measures to avoid damages such as freezer burn, which is caused by cold air in permanent contact with the surface of the food.
The procedure may vary depending on whether you decide to freeze cooked falafel or you just want to save the falafel mix and cook it later.
For uncooked falafel, prepare the mix just as the recipe indicates. And at the point when the falafel is ready to be cooked, put some parchment paper on top of a baking sheet or tray. Then place the falafel on it in a way which the individual pieces don’t touch each other. Cover it with another layer of paper and store it in the freezer to flash-freeze for a couple of hours. After the individual falafels have turned rock-solid, transfer them into airtight freezer bags or containers (optionally in single-serving sizes) and seal them after squeezing out all the excess air. Lastly, put them in the freezer and close the door.
In the case of already cooked falafels, the procedure is the same and it’s actually easier. You can opt for freezing the pieces directly after cooking, but you can alternatively follow the flash-freezing procedure outlined above for better results. In the case of cooked falafels, it’s recommended that you don’t leave them outside at room temperature for more than 2 hours so as to prevent bacterial growth from developing. Also, make sure to wait until the falafel has cooled down. So it’s encouraged that you stow them in the fridge for a while before transferring them into the freezer containers or bags, or before proceeding to flash-freeze.
Freezing should not significantly alter the consistency and flavor of your falafel, although it might acquire a softer texture due to the deterioration caused by ice crystals. However, you can restore its crispness by toasting it on a pan.
Constant changes in temperature and the moisture released during the thawing process may ruin the falafel. So it’s not recommended to refreeze it unless it was thawed in the fridge and not left out at room temperature for a long time.
In the fridge set to temperatures of 40º F or below, falafel can be kept safely for up to 4 days. After that time, the falafel might suffer spoilage and should be thrown out.
In the freezer set to 0º or below, falafel won’t spoil, but it will suffer considerable loss in quality after 6 months.
The safest and most effective way to thaw falafel is by placing the packages in the fridge and leave them to sit there overnight. The slow defrosting process will allow all the moisture to be reabsorbed by the food. You can also opt for immersing the unopened packages under cold water and make sure the water stays cold or change it every 30-or-so minutes. If you’re in the nick of time, there’s always the handy defrost function present in most modern microwaves but just make sure to cook the falafel shortly afterward.
Never thaw falafel over the counter, as bacteria will thrive and could cause foodborne illness.
The safest way to bypass the thawing process is by baking the frozen falafel pieces in the oven preheated to around 350º F. The falafel should reach an internal temperature of 165º F in a relatively short time.
You can also try other appliances such as the skillet or frying pan. But, if the pieces are too big, cold spots may form and remain long enough to encourage bacterial activity. Also, if you add too much oil, the outside will cook considerably faster, while the inside may remain frozen or cold. In that case, it’s always good to at least thaw the falafel partially.