Dumplings are a worldwide food item. With different versions of dumplings hailing from different parts of the world and almost as many ways of preparing them the question as to whether or not these perfect side dish items can be frozen is a pertinent one. While many cuisines such as African and European tend to pair dumplings with soups and stews, others like Asian and Polynesian cuisine do not favour the dumplings paired with stews but as standalone food. Whatever your favourite type of dumplings you’ve surely thought about freezing them before.
What Are Dumplings?
Classifying dumplings is not that simple. A dumpling is not a specific food item but rather a group of foods prepared in a certain manner. Dumpling is any recipe that involves a dough that can be made from wheat flour, potatoes or bread dough that is wrapped around a filling or sometimes standalone. Fillings can be anything from meat, vegetables, fruit and even sweets. The classification is so wide you can find different types of dumplings for each major geographical region of the world. Even within the regions, you will find different versions on dumplings. They feature heavily in African, Asian and Latin American cuisine. Dumplings can be fried, steamed or baked.
Can You Freeze Dumplings?
Fortunately, dumplings do freeze very well. So it doesn’t matter if you’re homemaking or you buy dumplings in a large pack. You can safely freeze them. There are things to consider when freezing dumplings the biggest problem posed by the question of freezing dumplings is the wide variety of dumplings and the ingredients that go into them. In some cases, the fillings in the dumplings will have a huge impact on whether or not you can easily freeze them and the considerations in freezing them to safely extend life.
Duration of Frozen Dumplings
As previously mentioned the different fillings impact the treatment of dumplings for freezing. It is not advisable to refrigerate or freeze uncooked dumplings. The problem with uncooked dumplings comes in the integrity of ingredients. Dumplings with moist ingredients will have moisture seep into the dumpling coating and ruin the texture. This can happen in the thawing process so best to cook your dumplings before considering freezing them. Cooked dumplings can be comfortably stored in the freezer for 3 months. While it’s possible to keep them beyond 3 months it is not recommended as you may start to experience deterioration in the taste and quality of the dumplings.
Method of Freezing Dumplings
The trick to getting the best mileage with frozen dumplings is to freeze them individually. Dumplings generally are moist when cooked and one problem you are likely to encounter is their desire to stick together. So the method we will look at involves a two-stage freezing process for dumplings. First step is of course, to cook the dumplings and allow them to cool. Using a baking tray or other suitable item covered with greaseproof paper lay the dumplings on the tray one by one. As mentioned before they like sticking together so it is very important to have them apart from each other. A useful tip is to spray the dumplings lightly with cooking oil to prevent them from sticking to other surfaces. With that done you can cover the tray with plastic wrap. Place this tray in the freezer overnight for best results. Once the dumplings have frozen over you can remove them from the tray and place in freezer bags. If you have some idea of how many dumplings you use in a single sitting it’s a good idea to bag them in serving sizes. If you are not sure just remember fewer is better. You would rather be stuck defrosting seven small bags of dumplings than trying to refreeze half a big bag of previously frozen dumplings.
In both stages of freezing dumplings, it’s important to be considerate of the materials the containers are made of. Firstly when you are placing the dumplings on a tray you can save yourself a lot of trouble by using the baking paper as advised. If for some reason you can’t do this avoid freezing them while directly laid on glass or steel. A coated oven tray may be a better bet. Plastic or melamine trays may also be used. Dumplings tend to stick to both glass and metal and you may find them hard frozen to these materials. You might end up with a few undesirable breakages.
With freezer bags, you are better off using heavy-duty freezer bags. When we freeze dumplings the number one thing we want to guard against is freezer burn. Freezer burn is the effect of either dehydration or oxidation of frozen food. It results in parts of or all of a frozen food item being dry and/or discoloured. This happens when items are not sealed sufficiently in the freezer and the air gets into the packaging. Light freezer bags are susceptible to tearing in the freezer so you want to transfer your frozen dumplings into heavy-duty freezer bags and possibly resealable type freezer bags if you have them.
Thawing Frozen Dumplings
When it comes to thawing frozen dumplings you have 3 options of how to go about it. Remember these dumplings are already cooked so the processes are not very complicated. Firstly you can choose to completely thaw the dumplings in the fridge and then heat them how you choose to. They are best left overnight to do this. The second method involves steaming them frozen until they thaw. You can still steam fridge thawed dumplings if that is your preferred way of eating them. The third method is to boil the dumplings either thawed or directly from frozen. All 3 methods should serve you just fine when you need to thaw dumplings. The boiling method may not provide the best quality for all dumpling varieties. As long as they are free of freezer burn they should reheat perfectly.
Dumplings can safely be frozen and thawed for later consumption. It is wiser to cook the dumplings before freezing them. The dumplings should first be frozen individually on a tray and then placed in heavy-duty freezer bags. They can be thawed in a refrigerator, boiled, steamed or microwaved.