Jambalaya has a long history of finding its roots in Louisiana but likely originating in West Africa, migrating to America during the Atlantic slave trade. There are clear Spanish and French influences in jambalaya too.
Jambalaya is a classic American Creole dish, often made using smoked meat, chicken, or shrimp. The meat is mixed with onion, celery, and green bell peppers. Then, like jollof rice, the rice is added to the mix with stock and left to cook.
There are so many elements to consider when it comes to jambalaya that it can be challenging to find the best way to store your leftovers. But the good news is that you may be able to freeze the dish…
To freeze jambalaya, once cooled, portion it into freezer bags, seal them up tight, double bag or wrap them in cling film and then pop them into the freezer.
How to Freeze Jambalaya
There is only one way to freeze jambalaya that will ensure you lose none of its delicious, well-developed flavour once reheated.
You can use this method to freeze jambalaya that you made ahead of time purposely to freeze or jambalaya that you happen to have left over.
So, here is the best method you can use to freeze jambalaya:
- Bring To Room Temperature
Before you rush ahead and try to freeze your jambalaya, you need to allow it to cool to room temperature. If you have stored your jambalaya in the fridge for a few days, remove it and allow it to warm to room temperature for a couple of minutes.
- Move To A Bag
When your jambalaya is at the right temperature, transfer it to a freezer bag.
- Organize The Jambalaya
Don’t just leave your jambalaya shoved into your freezer bag. Distribute the rice so that it lays neatly flat rather than in one big pile.
- Remove The Air
To prevent mushy rice, push all of the air out of the freezer bag. The more air you can remove the better.
Quickly seal the freezer bag as soon as you remove the air to prevent any more from entering the bag. Make sure the seal is tightly shut.
- Double Wrap
If you have another bigger freezer bag, double bag your jambalaya to prevent freezer burn. Alternatively, you can use plastic wrap or aluminium foil to act as a second layer of protection for the jambalaya.
All that is left to do is place your double wrapped jambalaya into the freezer and leave it to freeze. You can store jambalaya in your freezer for up to 3 months.
Trying to defrost frozen jambalaya too quickly will result in soggy rice and tasteless or mushy vegetables. Instead, remove your frozen jambalaya from the freezer 24 hours before eating it and leave it to defrost naturally in your fridge.
How to Freeze Jambalaya Successfully
Because jambalaya is, at its core, a rice dish, there are a lot of factors to consider when freezing jambalaya that could result in mushy or gross-textured rice when it is defrosted.
Here are a few tips you can use to ensure your jambalaya remains delicious:
- Undercook The Rice – If you know ahead of time that you will freeze your leftover jambalaya, do not allow the rice to cook all the way through. Leave the rice half-cooked and then freeze your jambalaya. That way you will avoid overly mushy rice when you defrost your dish.
- Use A Vacuum Sealer – Not everyone has a vacuum sealer, but they are a great tool for any house reliant on meal prep. You can use your vacuum sealer to remove as much as possible from the bag you plan to freeze jambalaya in. This will reduce the chances of your rice becoming mushy as it freezes.
- Do Not Freeze Rotten Jambalaya – It is true that you can keep rice in the fridge for up to a week if needed before you should freeze it. However, jambalaya includes more than just rice. If you try to freeze jambalaya that has been in the fridge for more than a couple of days, the chances are that it will already be too bacteria ridden to freeze. The cold will not stop the rotting process and can make your freezer smell awful.
- Remove The Shrimp – There isn’t an effective way of preventing shrimp from turning mushy in the freezer like there is rice. To avoid an unpleasant, gross shrimp it comes to reheating your jambalaya, remove the shrimp from the rice before you freeze it. Then add some fresh shrimp when you defrost the rest of the jambalaya.
- Use The Right Kind Of Freezer Bag – If you use a freezer bag that is too big for the amount of jambalaya rice you are freezing, it is likely that more air will become trapped in the bag and cause soggy rice. Though a bag that is too small is likely to explode, so try and use a bag that is a reasonable size.
Does Jambalaya Freeze Well?
Jambalaya will only freeze well if stored in an airtight freezer bag.
The rice base of the jambalaya is likely to cause the biggest issues when it comes to freezing the dish. However, so long as you ensure as little air as possible will touch the rice when it is freezing, you should have no problems.
Freezing Jambalaya FAQs
If you have further questions about the best way to freeze jambalaya, then check out these FAQs:
Yes, jambalaya is a great dish to prepare ahead of a dinner party or family gathering. Make it as you normally would, cool it and then freeze it for up to 3 months.
Yes, jambalaya can be reheated, but you must store it in the fridge as soon as it has cooled. When reheating jambalaya, ensure that the meat is piping hot in the centre.
Acacia may be a freelance writer by day, but they are a food fanatic by night. They are always trying out new recipes or finding different ways to elevate classical dishes. But their biggest culinary aim is to educate others on the basics of the kitchen so that they too can enjoy delicious food.