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Posted on Jul 12, 2007 in Freezing, Parent Hacks, Pasta or Noodles, Tips, Tutorial or How-to | 21 comments

Tip: Freezing unsauced pasta

Tip: Freezing unsauced pasta

Preparing pasta for freezingRegular readers may remember my post on freezing sauced spaghetti cups in individual servings for speedy packed lunches, but you can also freeze unsauced, cooked pasta for greater flexibility. Today I cooked and froze a batch of pasta (gemelli here) for speedy lunch prep. Just grab a pack from the freezer and use in dishes when texture is not at the forefront (i.e. sauced pasta salads, with tomato-based sauces, etc.). The important point here is to toss the hot, freshly cooked pasta in some butter, olive oil or vegetable oil right after draining to keep it from sticking, and to freeze it quickly after tossing with the oil. My Japanese books on freezing recommend cooking it al dente, and microwaving when you’re ready to eat for pasta in a hurry. For bento lunches, I like to pack a little extra sauce on the side and re-sauce it right before eating so that it’s not too dry. Edit: You can pull out the frozen pasta on busy mornings when nothing else is at hand, and make a quick pasta salad or combine it with some pasta sauce or leftover curry or stew for a quick meal like this leftover curry pasta lunch.

How to Freeze: You can use either freezer bags or plastic wrap to freeze. The advantage of a freezer bag is that you can shake out just as much pasta as you want toFreezing pasta use, and reseal the excess. If using freezer bags, be sure to press or suck out the excess air from the bag with a straw before sealing (picture a do-it-yourself FoodSaver vacuum sealer). This helps prevent freezer burn. If using plastic wrap, freeze little packages of individual servings on a metal tray to speed freezing, then put the packets inside of a larger freezer bag or airtight freezer container for longer-term storage. Frozen pasta will taste best when used within one month of freezing, but can technically be held indefinitely as long as the freezer temperature is below 0 degrees F (not Celsius!) and the pasta is well wrapped to prevent freezer burn.

Freezing pasta

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  1. Great idea! I wonder if this works for gluten-free pasta.

  2. Your posts are so awesome. I’m so glad I found this site. =)

  3. @1 from polly jean:
    Should do — I’ll try it out with some Tinkyada. I think the trick is going to be getting it al dente(not overcooked) as that was always more of an issue with GF pasta than regular gluten pasta.

  4. @2 from Sithean:
    Hey, thanks Sithean! :-)

  5. OK, you are welcome to call me stupid, but I don’t get it why you don’t freeze pasta with sauce in the first place. My experience with pasta sallad is that it holds well if you make it the night before and cool well the day after. If you want it really mixed in the morning you can do like an mise en place the night before with all ingredients chopped up and then just toss everything together in the morning. Takes just five or so minutes.
    I see the relevance with frozen rice far more than I see it with frozen pasta but then I have never been that much into pasta to be honest. I am more of a rice person (but then I store a 20 pound rice bag in the closet ;) and go through one of those bags every 2 months or so), and never put the rice cooker away.

  6. @5 from Jessica:
    Pasta salad does hold well, but sometimes I don’t have my act together enough to have prepared enough sauce, etc. to freeze pasta with the sauce (or in a salad). But as long as I’m boiling pasta for a meal anyway, I figure just boil some extra and tuck it away in the freezer for when I’m scrambling in the morning. Then I can throw together a quick pasta salad with vinaigrette or a sauced pasta and get it into the bento box fast.

  7. @ 6, Biggie,
    Ah, ok.
    Not having enough innovative brain function today ;).

  8. Jessica…that’s why she’s Biggie and we’re not! Innovative brain funtion!

  9. @8 from Jeri:
    Ha ha, thanks!

  10. @ 8-9 oh indeed :)
    Let us say that I wasn’t working at my fullest potential.
    The fruit “salad” with the curry meal looks absolutely delicious btw, Biggie! I adore figs!

  11. @13 from aJ: Glad to hear it worked for you, aJ!

  12. Any ideas as to how well cooked instant ramen noodles hold up to this treatment? I was just thinking it might be nice to pack them in the lunch frozen (as an edible ice pack) so that by lunchtime, a little hot water and the seasoning packet would have it just right for eating (with out the risk of leaking all over before lunch)… you could even toss some frozen cooked meat and/or frozen peas, carrots, etc… on top so it’s a little more well balanced.

  13. @15 from Jen: Gosh, I never thought to try that with instant ramen noodles. If you ever try this I’d love to hear your feedback on how it works out!

  14. Hi, Biggie, I know you are out of town this week, but when you get back, I hope you have time to answer this!

    How do you THAW the frozen pasta before packing it in the bento? Or don’t you thaw it at all?

    I’m actually thinking of this less for packed lunches, and more for speedy pasta dinners on nights when the kids are too hungry to wait for me to boil a big pot of water–but maybe it wouldn’t thaw quickly enough to make much difference?

  15. Yeah well, when I lived in Rome I was told horror stories about non-italians who froze cooked pasta… How one entered the kitchen only to find roommates eating defrosted pasta. Told at night in frightful whispers. ;)

  16. @20 from Darina: I think every culture is going to be sensitive about variations on their culinary staples. Japanese are very sensitive about rice, for example, which made a Japanese ex-boyfriend of mine spit out sweet rice pudding in shock. :-)

  17. I love this idea! How long would you nuke the pasta right out of the freezer?

    I suspect this will be a great idea for making pasta for my toddler!

  18. Thanks for your tip, your blog is very useful for me. I’ll try it since I like pasta too, and actually sent this post to my wife.

  19. I freeze cooked pasta in sandwich bags. Press out the air and spread/flatten well. Lie flat to freeze. Makes a nice package the size/shape of a slice of bread. Stores easily and thaws quickly as pasta is in a very thin layer. We do rice, soups, stews, and meats w/sauces this way as well.

  20. Gravy and sauces can also be frozen in an ice tray or mini muffin tin. Spray or brush with a small amount of oil. When frozen, pop out and store in a large resealable bag or plastic container.

    Great for the kids to choose toppings/sauce for pasta, rice, or meatballs for a quick afterschool snack.

  21. Nuke frozen pasta for about 30 seconds if it is a thin layer. A frozen ‘brick’ of pasta? Nuke a bowl of water for 1 minute, add ‘brick’ of pasta (in a plastic bag of course) for another 30 seconds.

    Freezing pasta works best if cooked pasta is rinsed/cooled immediately to stop the cooking process, then toss with a bit of oil or melted butter. Allow it to drain completely before freezing.

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