Whether you have guests coming over or having a little traditional family dinner, moussaka will always complement your menu perfectly. Although, when you have a lot of dishes to prepare on your menu, making moussaka can be a bit tricky as this dish takes about 2 hours to make. In all this hassle, you might be wondering, can you make moussaka in advance?
Yes. This delightful Greek casserole can be assembled several days in advance. You can prepare both the sauces needed for this dish two days in advance and then assemble it all together on the day of cooking. You can also prepare the whole dish in advance and store it in the freezer for up to a month. Just bake it for an extra 20 to 25 minutes before you serve.
Moussaka can be a complex dish to prepare if you don’t know the proper instructions. This will make your kitchen a complete mess! But don’t worry. This article will cover all you need to know about how you can store moussaka in the refrigerator when you make it in advance, if it has expired in the freezer and how you can easily reheat the leftover moussaka.
How Long Does Moussaka Last?
When you’re storing moussaka in the fridge, you might wonder how long it will last before expiring. Baked moussaka will keep fresh for 5 days if you store it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge. However, you can also store unbaked moussaka by wrapping it with a double layer of plastic wrap. This way it lasts in the freezer for up to even 3 months!
If you plan on saving it for longer then you need to prepare the moussaka and put it in a tempered glass container that is oven and freezer-friendly. Freeze the dish instantly so no air can leak in, keeping it fresh. Remember to defrost before baking it. Nonetheless, you can also bake the moussaka straight from the freezer, although it will require a little extra time.
Moussaka is likely to be fresh longer in the freezer and not the fridge. This is because the temperature of the fridge is lower than that of the freezer. Thus, if you’re saving the dish for a longer period, putting it in the freezer is suggested. You can also store them separately if you have not assembled them yet. The sauces can easily last in the fridge for longer whereas the meat lasts in the freezer longer.
It is also possible to freeze baked moussaka, in either portions or even the whole dish, without minimizing the taste. Cover with a plastic wrap and put in an airtight container as mentioned. This way it can last up to a month or more if it doesn’t come in touch with air. Remember the date when you put it in the freezer so you don’t leave it in there longer than intended.
How To Store Moussaka Properly?
The best way to store moussaka is by freezing it unbaked. You can use parchment paper on top of the sauce and then cover the whole dish with plastic wrap. This will secure the dish from freezer burns. You can also put it in an airtight container to reduce any airflow. Coming in contact with air can expire faster than usual.
However, you can also store baked moussaka in the freezer. If you have baked extra and want to save it for another meal, you will need to wait for the dish to entirely cool down before putting it in the fridge. Seal the casserole after with a plastic wrap or in an airtight container if you want to store it longer than 5 days.
For your ease, storing moussaka in portions is a very efficient method and also saves you a lot of trouble. Reheating the entire dish and then putting the rest of the leftover again in the fridge can be quite annoying. Thus, you can store the portions in separate, small, and firm airtight containers. This way you can only reheat the portions you choose to eat.
How To Reheat Moussaka?
Generally, it is advised to reheat your moussaka in the oven to thoroughly warm it up. You have to wait for the dish to get to room temperature first before popping it into the oven. Cover it with foil and keep the temperature of your oven at medium to prevent it from baking further.
Moussaka tastes better the second time around. If the dish is still cold then you will need to reheat it for a couple of extra minutes, depending on its size. If it is in small portions then heating it to the usual time is sufficient. Before you take the moussaka out of the oven, check the center to make sure it is thoroughly warmed up.
If you’re reheating a large amount of moussaka then approximately 30 minutes is enough to do the trick. However, small portions require much less time to heat up and can also be put in the microwave.
Even though this may dry the dish out making it less pleasant, it is still less time-consuming as you can directly put the container into the microwave, considering it’s microwave-safe.
Even so, if you forget to take out the moussaka in advance from the freezer, you can run it under warm water to help thaw it faster. Note that putting a frozen container of moussaka in the preheated oven will break the container. You may also notice that no matter what the case, covering with a foil is necessary as it prevents the dish from parching.
Check out this post for step-by-step instructions on how to reheat moussaka.
How To Know Your Moussaka Has Gone Bad In The Freezer?
You can know the moussaka has expired when the beef or lamb has changed the color from red to grayish brown. This means that the moussaka has been in contact with air. In this case, they might still be safe to eat but it will not taste as scrumptious as the meat will be parched and leathery.
In addition, if the eggplant also starts losing its color then this is also a sign that the moussaka is drying out. This can be either due to being stored too long or poor packaging. If you don’t store it in an airtight container, air will most likely get in causing all these issues. Most importantly, don’t forget when you put the moussaka in the freezer to avoid storing it too long.
Other traces that the moussaka has expired is when the lamb or beef has an awful odor. This is a result of the fluctuating temperature as the moussaka is not freezing to the extent it is supposed to. Moreover, if the dish has a sticky texture after you defrost it then it means that it has gone bad.
While there are other related factors that influence the expiration of the moussaka, the ones mentioned above will help you determine if it has expired. It might interest you to know that freezing the dish immediately helps store it longer as well as increase the taste. This is because the flavors will have time to soak into the moussaka and it also saves your cooking time later!
The temperature inside your freezer may not always be constant and can fluctuate due to certain issues. This will likely cause the moussaka in your freezer to go bad fast. Nevertheless, using these techniques you can easily tell if your Moussaka is still good.