Can you freeze tempeh? Tempeh is a fermented health food made from soybeans. A staple in Indonesian diet, tempeh is usually used as an alternative source of lean protein among vegans. It has a meaty consistency so it is an excellent substitute for pork and beef.
Tempeh is made by splitting, boiling soybeans or other legumes, then drying, and creating a culture from yeast. The tempeh goes through an incubation process until it becomes a dense cake of sorts before being frozen to preserve its active enzymes.
Tempeh is frozen during processing so yes, this product freezes so well. In fact, tempeh is often sold frozen to preserve freshness. If you have leftover tempeh, it can be frozen too although we highly discourage re-freezing the leftover tempeh. Refreezing the leftover tempeh may cause slight flavor and texture changes. That being said, if you are planning to mash the leftover tempeh for a recipe, refreezing it shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Types of Tempeh
Before we get into the freezing instructions, let’s discuss the two types of tempeh products sold in most supermarkets: fresh frozen and vacuum-sealed and pre-packed tempeh.
Image used under Creative Commons from KushiInstitute
Also known as fresh frozen tempeh, this is an extremely rare product in the US but it is quite common in specialty stores and Indonesian food stores. As the name implies, this product was frozen fresh so it should be pre-cooked for at least 20 minutes to relax the patty and allow it to absorb more flavors during cooking.
Vacuum-Sealed and Pre-Packed Tempeh
Vacuum-sealed and pre-packed tempeh is pasteurized so it is more shelf-stable than freshly frozen tempeh. This product does not require pre-cooking at all. In fact, pre-packed tempeh is ready to eat. But unless you enjoy eating tempeh raw, we still recommend cooking the tempeh to soften and moisten the product as well as to eliminate the tempeh’s naturally bitter aftertaste.
How to Make Fresh Tempeh at Home
While most people buy tempeh from supermarkets, you can make fresh tempeh at home. Homemade tempeh is just as tasty and versatile as store-bought tempeh but it’s more affordable. Here’s a quick guide on how to make tempeh at home:
How to Freeze Tempeh?
Freezing tempeh is as easy as can be. If you are freezing unopened packs of tempeh, there is no need to prep it for freezing. Just stick the product in the freezer in its original packaging.
On the other hand, if you are freezing leftover tempeh, wrap the product in a double layer of cling wrap, making sure no parts are exposed to chilly temperature. Then, place the wrapped tempeh in a heavy-duty, resealable plastic bag. Squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.
Tempeh Cooking Ideas
Tempeh is such a versatile health food. You can use it in salads, sandwiches, even sloppy Joes! Since tempeh is often used as an alternative to pork and beef, you can make vegan tacos, vegan sweet and sour or BBQ “pork” using tempeh.
If you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen, try any of the easy tempeh recipes above!
Shelf Life and Thawing Suggestions
Tempeh will keep indefinitely in the freezer especially when the temperature is kept at a steady 0 degrees. On the other hand, tempeh will only last a week in the fridge. Do note that consuming tempeh as soon as possible is recommended otherwise, the product might develop a funky aroma or flavor.
Image used under Creative Commons from Stacy Spensley
Thawing the tempeh is easy, just transfer the frozen tempeh in the fridge and leave it to defrost overnight. Once the tempeh is defrosted, it’s ready to be added to your favorite recipes. You can also steam the frozen tempeh if you are pressed for time. Reheating the tempeh is not needed because the product can be added to cooking regardless if it is frozen or thawed.
Tempeh is a nutritious and delicious pork alternative, perfect if you’re watching what you eat. Can you freeze tempeh? No need to worry about your stash going bad because tempeh freezes so well.
That being said, always keep an eye out for significant flavor or texture changes. If for some reason the tempeh started emitting a foul odor or it has turned a weird shade, the product might’ve gone bad.