Couscous is a dish that comes to us from North Africa.
It is pasta made from semolina, which is a roughly ground durum wheat.
The Washington Post says that couscous is a UNESCO recognized cultural food item in North African countries.
Couscous is a carbohydrate, so it works great with any protein or veggies. It also works excellent with curry or soup.
It comes in three main sizes— Moroccan, Israeli, and Lebanese-and versatile.
But it behaves like a grain in that it hardens or becomes soggy quickly.
Moreover, if you refrigerate cooked couscous, high chances, it won’t last long and will become soggy.
Freezing couscous happens to be a possible way to solve storing issues.
So, can you freeze couscous and at the same time keep its texture? Yes, read on to find out how.
Does Freezing Affect Couscous?
No, freezing will not affect your couscous in any negative way. Freezing is a foolproof method to preserve any food.
The Washington Post says that you can even freeze leftover pasta.
And since couscous is pasta, there should be no problem whatsoever.
The US Food Safety and Inspection Service say that constantly freezing at a temperature of 0° can preserve it indefinitely.
Freezing slows down the growth of microbes which cause molding and decaying.
However, freezing any food item for too long can cause the texture to change.
Although the thing stays fresh, some people notice a change in texture.
As such, there are optimum freezing times for each food item.
So why do we need to freeze couscous? In the case of pasta like couscous, Healthline says that they are very prone to getting mold.
It is because of the moisture content in cooked pasta.
Another reason for freezing couscous is to preserve its texture.
The refrigerator is not a good option as it can only sustain cooked couscous for about 3 to 4 days.
And leaving cooked couscous on standby for a long time without any preservative methods can ruin its texture.
So, if you freeze couscous and use it in the optimal time frame, you will not notice any change in texture or flavor.
Plus, freezing will ensure that there is no bacterial or fungal growth as well.
How to Freeze Couscous?
The general rule for freezing cooked couscous is that it must be al dente.
Overcooking it and then freezing it might cause mushy couscous.
Given below are the steps to freeze your couscous:
Once you’ve cooked your couscous, let it sit and cool down.
Storing warm items in your freezer is just a recipe for disaster.
The heat circulating from the item can cause other items to thaw out.
It may even turn your couscous into an ice block from the moisture.
Once it is cool enough to handle, spread it on a baking sheet or a tray.
Use a fork or any pronged item to separate the couscous.
De-clumping is essential for making sure the texture doesn’t change while freezing.
Don’t agitate the couscous too much that it becomes mushy.
Just enough to make sure there are no large chunks.
Once it is has come down to room temperature, cover it with a plastic wrap or a cling film and place it into the freezer.
The next part of this step is essential. You need to keep checking for when it hardens but does not fully freeze.
It should take about 30 or 40 minutes.
Once the couscous has hardened, remove it from the freezer.
Grab your fork and begin de-clumping by separating as much as you can.
After you’ve done de-clumping them for the second time, grab a bag or a container.
Preferably air-tight and then put back into the freezer.
If you use a Ziploc bag, remove as much air from the bag before sealing it.
Your pasta should last well over two months if frozen at 40°F and lower.
Here are some tips to ensure that your couscous freezes well:
- Don’t mix with other items like veggies or protein. Different items freeze differently, so it’s better to freeze your couscous on its own. If you’ve already mixed in other things, keep it in the fridge instead.
- Divide your couscous into portions and freeze them accordingly. This way, even when defrosting them, you don’t have to worry about portion size and redistribution.
How to Thaw Frozen Couscous?
The good thing about frozen couscous is that you need not wait for it to thaw out.
As such, here are the different methods that you can use to thaw frozen couscous:
Use a Microwave.
Using a microwave is probably the fastest way to thaw out your couscous.
To do this:
- Transfer the frozen couscous into a microwaveable container.
- Add some water to the bowl. Probably three tablespoons.
- Put it in the microwave without a lid and let it run on in the highest setting.
- After about a minute, get a fork and fluff it up. If it is not fully thawed, let it run for another minute. After every minute, don’t forget to fluff it until it is fully unthawed.
Use a Skillet and a Stove.
If the microwave doesn’t seem like a good idea, you can use the stove instead.
This method is excellent if you want to mix in other ingredients and toss them all together.
- In a pan or a skillet, pour a little oil and about 2 tablespoons of water. Don’t let the skillet heat up too much, or the oil and water will cause quite the mess.
- Before the water and oil heats up thoroughly, add your frozen couscous.
- Stir and continue to stir till the couscous becomes soft. The couscous will absorb the water, or it will get evaporated.
- Once the couscous has softened, you can turn off the heat. You can re-fluff the couscous with a fork, and you can re-season it too. .
You can add other ingredients at this stage. But make sure they’re already cooked.
There you go, enjoy your thawed couscous. Another thing to note is it’s not a good idea to refreeze your couscous.
It’ll probably not have the same texture or the flavor the second time you refreeze.
The main thing about couscous is that it can get soggy or become problematic.
So freezing eliminates this texture and keeps it at al dente.
Once it’s frozen, you can thaw it out and use it immediately.
It also prevents it from going bad and developing molds.
Another great thing about freezing it is that thawing out your couscous is easy.
If you want a no-hassle method, then you can use the microwave method.
If you want to incorporate extra seasoning or add some ingredients, you can also thaw it over the stove.
Add your favorite meats, curry, and veggies, and enjoy a serving of couscous.