Some dishes aren’t the same without every ingredient. For many Asian recipes and stir fry meals, bean sprouts are a crucial aspect. They add a bit of crunch and can add some water to otherwise dry meals.
But keeping every ingredient on hand can be a challenge. This problem is why freezing some foods is an excellent idea. It also helps avoid wasting food, a crucial need in a time when everyone is feeling the sting of increasing prices at the checkout line.
So can you freeze bean sprouts? While it’s possible to freeze them, there are things you should take into consideration before doing so. This article helps you uncover everything you need to know to answer freezing this vegetable.
Why Should You Freeze Bean Sprouts?
For meals that use them, bean sprouts are a critical part of the dish. In many recipes, they are used to provide a unique texture, and leaving them out can result in a lackluster meal that doesn’t quite hit the spot.
But the problem is that sometimes we don’t want to run to the store and pick up an entire list of ingredients. Not only can this be overly expensive, but it can also result in a lot of wasted food. No one wants to see this happen.
Freezing foods, even fresh vegetables, including bean sprouts, is an excellent way to keep additional stores of specific ingredients around. This method is useful for things you don’t eat often but are a key ingredient to specific meals you love.
Freezing can also help divide foods into smaller amounts. For households with one or two people, making sure to divide foods for long-term storage is a great way to stretch out your purchases. It allows you to buy in bulk, saving money but also ensures that you don’t see that excess go to waste.
Can you freeze bean sprouts? Not only can you freeze them, but it’s a wise step to take in many situations. Now let’s move on to figuring out the best way to freeze them, so they are delicious and ready for use whenever you need them.
How To Freeze Bean Sprouts
If there is one way to ruin bean sprouts, it’s by causing them to turn into a mushy mess. And unfortunately, freezing bean sprouts can cause this to happen.
Since they have a high water content, the water freezes and destroys some of the aspects that provide the structure of the food and the crunchy texture everyone loves.
So can you freeze bean sprouts in a way that doesn’t lose their texture? Absolutely. It might seem counterintuitive, but slightly cooking them before freezing is a surefire way to retain the crunchy texture. More specifically, blanching bean sprouts before freezing them is ideal.
Blanching Bean Sprouts
To blanch bean sprouts, get a pot of water and bring it to a boil. The water should be enough to completely submerge the bean sprouts with some room left so you can easily mix them during the process.
Once the water is boiling, add the bean sprouts. You’ll want to clean and do anything else you need to prepare the bean sprouts before adding them to the water. Once they are in there and cooking, set a three-minute timer.
After three minutes of boiling the bean sprouts, it’s time to remove them and stop the cooking process. Once you take them out, they will retain the heat from the boiling water and continue to cook longer.
To avoid this overcooking, you’ll want to have a cold bath of ice water ready to go. Just like the pot of boiling water, this ice bath should be sufficient to cover the bean sports entirely with room to move around. Not giving a large enough ice bath will not cool the bean sprouts properly.
It’s crucial to drain the boiling water before adding the bean sprouts to the ice bath. You want to just put the bean sprouts in the ice bath, not the boiling water too.
To recap, you’ll bring a pot of water to a boil, add the bean sprouts and cook for three minutes, then finish draining the boiling water and putting the bean sprouts in an ice bath. After they have been in the ice bath for another two to three minutes, you can drain and dry the bean sprouts.
At this point, the bean sprouts are ready to be frozen. But there are some crucial things to consider before freezing them. Let’s dive into those details.
Storage Containers and Bags
Now that you have your blanched bean sprouts ready for the freezer, it’s time to transfer them into a storage container or bag and place them in the freezer.
But this is another area that can ruin the bean sprouts if you aren’t careful. The problem happens when a large group of bean sprouts is bunched together and frozen as a solid block.
This block is not only challenging to defrost but it’s also a way to destroy that desirable crunchy texture.
How do you avoid this? The first step is to thoroughly dry the bean sprouts before freezing. You want to avoid having excess water stored in the freezer container with the bean sprouts.
Freezing Individual Bean Sprouts
But there’s one more thing that can help save your bean sprouts. This step can be challenging for some people because it requires a lot of freezer space. But ideally, you want to freeze bean sprouts in a single layer. Doing so freezes them individually rather than as a group.
It’s similar to cooking methods where you don’t want to overcrowd the pan. Have you ever tried to make crunchy potatoes but put too many in the oven resulting in a soggy mess? It’s the same idea behind freezing bean sprouts.
How can you freeze bean sprouts in this way? One of the easiest methods, if you have freezer space, is to use a baking sheet and layer the bean sprouts across it, leaving only one layer of bean sprouts across the surface.
If you don’t have the space to do this, that’s fine. Just do whatever you can to keep the number of bean sprouts frozen together to a minimum.
Another way to do this is to use freezer bags and fill them. Place the bean sprouts evenly across the entire bag, spread out as much as possible. To prevent bunching, use multiple bags or separate layers of the bean sprouts with parchment paper.
Sometimes neither of these methods works well. You might not have the space to put an entire baking sheet in the freezer, and using single-use freezer bags is far from ideal.
If that’s the case, an airtight container will work for freezing your bean sprouts. Using an airtight container can help retain the integrity of the bean sprouts. It keeps the outside air away from the food and avoids freezer burn.
How Long Can Bean Sprouts Stay Frozen?
Now that you have your bean sprouts well prepared and in the freezer, another question rolling around in your mind is probably about how long they can stay frozen.
The answer, generally speaking, is that it depends. Ideally, you want to use the frozen bean sprouts within two to three months. This time ensures they haven’t spent too much time in the freezer.
Additionally, storing your vegetables in the freezer for more than a year may result in less nutritional density.
But if you want to, you can probably stretch this out to a much longer timeframe. Some people eat frozen vegetables for six months or a year after being placed in the freezer.
This entire equation depends heavily on the freezer environment. If your freezer is always closed, doesn’t lose power, and retains a fixed temperature that is sufficiently cold for freezing, then keeping your bean sprouts for longer is likely not a problem.
But life doesn’t always work like that. Instead, we usually open our freezers pretty often. This change allows a bit of air to come in and could impact the length of time for your frozen foods of all sorts, bean sprouts included.
On top of this, power outages are something that many of us have to deal with. And while some outages can be quick, others can be long-lasting. No matter how long the outage is, it can always be challenging to determine how well our frozen foods hold up.
It’s safer to use frozen foods immediately after thawing. It’s also a good idea to use frozen bean sprouts within three months to avoid pushing your luck.
Can You Freeze Bean Sprouts Without Blanching?
It’s understandable if you don’t have the time to set aside to blanch your bean sprouts before freezing them. While it’s the ideal method for keeping most of the crunchy texture around, it’s simply not always possible.
This problem might have you wondering, “Can you freeze bean sprouts without blanching?” The answer is yes. It’s acceptable to freeze bean sprouts without blanching, but they will likely lose their crunchy texture and become slightly mushy.
The truth is that any method of freezing bean sprouts will reduce the crunchy texture. That’s what happens when these high water content foods hit the freezer.
But it’s not the end of the world. You’ll still have bean sprouts around for your meals, and they can still be used in many ways to add a special kick to your favorite dishes.
It’s also much better to freeze them without blanching than to see them spoil and have to get thrown away.
Can You Freeze Bean Sprouts Raw?
You can freeze bean sprouts raw. Ideally, it’s best to blanch them by boiling them in water for about three minutes and then transferring them to an ice bath. But if this can’t happen, they can be frozen raw.
One step you still want to take before freezing them is to ensure they are clean and dry. It’s best to freeze anything without additional bacteria and other harmful substances on the surface.
So can you freeze bean sprouts raw? Yes, but take a moment to clean and dry them before doing so.
Can You Freeze Bean Sprouts After Cooking?
We’ve talked a lot about blanching bean sprouts before freezing them. We’ve also discussed what happens if you don’t blanch them and freeze them raw instead. All of those options are fine, although the blanching does the best at retaining the crunchy texture.
Now we are going to turn to a different question. Can you freeze bean sprouts after cooking?
Perhaps you’ve already made a full meal and ended up with a heap of cooked bean sprouts that aren’t going to be used any time soon. If that’s the case, there is good news. You can still freeze them.
Unfortunately, it is likely that freezing fully cooked bean sprouts will result in slightly mushy thawed vegetables. But they still keep most of the flavor and can add a high water content ingredient to any dish that needs it.
It’s best to dry the bean sprouts before freezing them. This drying helps avoid additional freezer burn and can even retain a bit more of the crunchy texture. Then you can either do the baking sheet freezing method or place them into your desired freezer bag or container for storage in your freezer.
Wrapping Up: Can You Freeze Bean Sprouts?
So can you freeze bean sprouts? Bean sprouts are a great addition to many dishes, especially Asian meals or other vegetable stir fry meals. But keeping them around fresh all the time can be a challenge. It’s also possible that you simply bought too much and don’t want to see them go to waste.
While freezing bean sprouts is likely to reduce the crunchy texture no matter what you do, it’s best to blanch them before freezing them to retain most of the texture. It’s also ideal to clean and dry bean sprouts thoroughly before freezing them.