If you have never heard of seitan, you probably know it by a different name such as “wheat gluten” or “wheat meat”.
If you still don’t know what it is, it is similar to tofu and tempeh – a vegan meat substitute. Although it doesn’t require a lot of work to make, it is always helpful to be able to defrost food during those busy weeks.
However, can you freeze seitan like you could meats? Yes, you can freeze seitan as raw dough, in prepared dishes, or in a broth. It exhibits minimal changes in taste and texture, and many prefer the chewy texture which freezing adds. Seitan will last in the freezer for 3-6 months.
Surprisingly, you can freeze this meat substitute – and it is even recommended by many seitan-fanatics. There are minimal effects and it will make dinners a breeze.
In this article, we will look at ways to freeze different forms of seitan as well as changes it goes through and some bonus tips and tricks.
What Is Seitan?
Seitan is a very popular meat substitute in vegetarian, vegan, and similar diets that don’t consume meat. It has a very high protein content and a very low carbohydrate count.
It is made from wheat gluten (the main protein that is found in wheat) and water. These ingredients are combined and a dough is formed then kneaded and shaped for its intended purpose.
This dough can be eaten raw, however, can also be cooked by frying it in a pan, deep-frying crumbed pieces, boiling it in vegan broth (like vegetable stock), or slow cooking it in a stew – there are tons of ways to prepare seitan, just as with meat.
The Ultimate Guide to Freezing Seitan
Freshly made seitan can be kept in your refrigerator for 3-4 days (store-bought products usually have use-by dates on them), but of course, sometimes you want to keep it beyond that.
Freezing seitan will help you make quick dinners and ease the stress of last-minute meal prep.
How to Freeze Seitan – Step By Step
Luckily for everyone, you can very easily freeze seitan without compromising it. Here’s how to do it:
1. Divide Your Seitan Dough
This step will make your life so much easier and convenient. Divide your dough into the correct cuts and portion size that you will need later (a portion for one or two people etc.). This will prevent you from having to thaw a big batch, and then discarding everything you did not use.
2. Cool the Portioned Doughs
This is a very important step as it will help the dough freeze evenly and quickly. Place your portions on a parchment-lined baking tray and place it at either room temperature or in the refrigerator.
We always recommend keeping foods in the refrigerator as it has a safer temperature for foods (bacteria will not be as likely to grow there).
3. Wrap Your Portions in Plastic
If you have big cutlets or pieces, wrap each piece individually in plastic or saran wrap.
If you have smaller pieces, chunks, or crumbs, simply place them in a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag and lay them flat when freezing to prevent them from clumping together too much.
4. Wrap the Portions in Foil
Next, wrap your large seitan pieces in aluminum foil. This will provide extra protection against foreign objects and odors.
You can also write your label information (see steps that follow) on the foil if you do not have a container to store it in.
5. Place in Container
Place the wrapped items (zip-lock bags or foil-wrapped packages) into an air-tight freezer-safe container.
The containers act as protection from odors, other ingredients and from being crushed under other foods while they are still soft. Choose containers that stack easily to save up freezer space.
6. Label Your Products
We always include this step in our freezing process as it is crucial. The following information should always be written on your containers.
- Name of contents (seitan dough, raw)
- Portion sizes or type of cuts (if applicable)
- Date it was produced
- Date it was frozen (this will assist you with stock-rotation)
- Use by date (about 4-6 months after being made)
Labeling your products will help you easily identify them in a freezer and prevent you from accidentally defrosting the wrong product.
It will also assist in stock rotation (or the FIFO method – first in, first out) which is to use the oldest products first, and the newest products last. This is helped by the produced on and use-by dates on the container.
7. Place Containers in Freezer in a Designated Area
Create sections in your freezer (doughs, vegetables, pastries, etc.) to easily find the product you are looking for. This will help you not keep your freezer open for long periods (while searching for the correct product) and keep products like seitan that defrost quickly, from being compromised.
Frozen, raw seitan dough will keep for up to 6 months in the freezer if stored correctly. However, check the seitan monthly to ensure it is still fine (no mold or drastic color and texture changes).
Freeze Prepared Seitan Dishes – Step By Step
These dishes also freeze very well and will save you even more time. They should be consumed within one month of freezing as a safety measure but could be stored up to 3 months.
1. Place the Dish in a Container
Place your prepared meal in a well-fitting container. The container should be both air-tight and freezer-safe. Place a sheet of plastic or saran wrap directly on the surface of the food, before placing the lid on top.
2. Wrap the Container
Wrap the whole container with plastic wrap. This will prevent any juices or sauces from leaking out if the container was to fall over in the freezer.
This step isn’t necessary but is recommended.
3. Label the Containers
- Name of the dish (if you want to you can include a recipe link)
- Portion sizes (if applicable)
- Date it was frozen
- Use-by date (1-3 months after being made)
4. Freeze the Dish
Make sure to place containers in an area with other prepared meals to ensure you find it easily and also not forget about it.
Freeze Seitan in Broth Step By Step
This method works great if you are planning on making stews or soups. The steps stay the same as for prepared dishes.
Simply add your cooled vegetable (or vegan) broth to the container with the raw seitan dough pieces. Wrap the container tightly with plastic or saran wrap and label it with the correct information.
Tip: Smaller pieces work better than using large chunks.
Taste and Texture Changes
As with anything that gets frozen, change is inevitable. A lot of people prefer freezing their seitan to make it chewier, making it more realistic to meat, so this is not necessarily a bad thing.
The elasticity of the raw dough will change considerably after 3 months, however, the taste remains very consistent.
Tips & Tricks
- Seitan dough thaws quickly so you can remove it from the freezer about 2-3 hours before you need it.
- If you are freezing prepared meals, you could also place the contents in a freezer-safe resealable bag. Freeze the bags on baking trays until they are frozen through, then stack them in the designated area in your freezer.
- If you are freezing store-bought seitan, sometimes the boxes only recommend freezing for 2 weeks, however, tons of consumers’ claims that you can store it between 3-6 months and it will still be fine. Check your frozen seitan regularly and make your own call on it.
- You can freeze plain, cooked seitan as well. Cool the cooked seitan pieces in the refrigerator, about 10-15 minutes depending on the size. Then, follow the instructions on wrap[ping raw seitan pieces.
Your freezer should never have fluctuating temperatures. Because seitan thaws very quickly, even small fluctuations may affect the dough and cause it to spoil much quicker.
Doughs are very porous so any odors in the freezer will be absorbed by the seitan. Make sure your freezer is clean and odor-free and that the seitan is stored in an air-tight container for extra protection.
Never wrap your food directly with aluminum foil. Some foils give off a grey color and a metallic taste to foods if it comes in direct contact with it.
Do not write the label information directly on plastic or saran wrap. Inks tend to leach through plastic and will stain your foods, making them unsafe to eat.
We hope you enjoyed this guide to freezing seitan. We’ve also included some common related questions about freezing and reheating this yummy meat-free food, so be sure to check them out!
How Do You Thaw Seitan Dough?
Place the dough on a plate in the fridge about 2-3 hours before you need it.
If you need to defrost it quicker, place it in a bowl of cool water, but make sure you have a water-proof container.
How Do You Reheat Seitan?
There are plenty of ways to reheat seitan, although we have a tip for cooking below. No matter what cooking method you choose, just make sure you add moisture, too, as the seitan will dry out considerably otherwise.
Will the Seitan Be Rubbery After Being Frozen and Cooked?
A rubbery and tough seitan is not caused by its freezing method. The rubbery texture is caused by the cooking methods used. Steaming seitan dough will create a much softer, fluffier product than if baking it.