Can I freeze cheese? Such a question usually arises when you purchase a large amount of this product but family members do not want to eat it anymore. Throwing cheese out would be a waste of money, so we need to think of the ways to preserve it for future use. The answer to this question is not too clear and it brings even more additional questions and answers: what kinds of cheese can be frozen, how to properly freeze cheese, how to defrost it, restrictions on its use after defrosting and so on. That’s why I wrote this detailed article with all my knowledge and I also included the experts’ recommendations. So let’s find out: can you freeze cheese?
Can You Freeze Cheese: Yes or No?
As I’ve mentioned above, there is no simple answer to this question.
- Firstly, you can freeze almost any cheese. But not all kinds of cheese will retain their properties equally well after this process.
- Secondly, the terms of storage of cheese in a frozen state differ depending on the kind of cheese. Read more below.
- Thirdly, we should understand that as a result of freezing, the moisture in the cheese crystallizes and it will damage the grains of the product from the inside. Therefore, after defrosting, the cheese will have a slightly different texture. Yes, it can be used as an ingredient for cooking different dishes. Most likely, no one will figure it out if you are using a defrosted cheese to make pasta, sauces or pizza. But I would not recommend using it for a cheese plate.
Freezing quality kinds of cheeses does not make too much sense. These are the types of cheese that are not intended for making sauces or pizza, but rather to be served fresh on a platter. These cheeses include, for example, Blue cheese and Brie. If you freeze these cheeses, after defrosting you will see a completely different product, depleted of its delicate taste and aroma. In addition, under the influence of low temperature, the good microorganisms – that make these cheeses so famous – are destroyed.
What Do Professionals Say?
If you’ve already given up the idea of freezing cheese, reconsider your decision. Professional chefs were the ones who started doing it in the first place. The tradition of freezing cheese has its roots in Italy – the home ground of dishes in which cheese is an irreplaceable ingredient: pizza, pasta, lasagna, and ravioli. For Italian chefs it is very important to always have cheese in the kitchen. That is why they were the first to start experimenting with its freezing and storage.
At first, they would freeze cheese by wrapping it into the parchment paper, and later zip lock bags came to the rescue. In the recent years, they have been using vacuum sealers for this purpose more and more often.
So, let’s find out exactly how to freeze and store different kinds of cheese.
Freezing Hard cheese
Hard and semi-hard cheeses are the best when it comes to the question of freezing; so, I decided to start with them.
Let me remind you that hard cheeses are Parmesan, Maasdam, Cheddar, Raclette, Grana Padano, Friesian, Laden, Gruyere, Pecorino Romano and others.
Semi-hard cheeses are Gouda, Edam, Cantal, Emmental and others.
The storage time of cheese in the freezer may vary depending on its kind and method of freezing.
For instance, hard cheese – frozen as a whole piece – can be stored for up to six months. The same type of cheese but sliced can be stored for no longer than three months. The storage life of semi-hard kinds is shorter: up to four months, if frozen as a whole piece.
How Do I Freeze Cheese In One Piece?
It is important to determine the optimal size of the pieces to be frozen. It is very helpful when you know in advance how much cheese you will need every time. This way you will be able to cut it into pieces by weight. If you find it difficult, cut it into 7-10 oz. pieces. It is the average weight of cheese needed to make a pizza or pasta for a family of four.
Place each piece into a separate container with an airtight lid. You can also wrap it into a foil or a parchment paper, a zip lock bag. If there is a vacuum sealer in your household, it is even better!
Put a label on the packed cheese: write down what type of cheese it is, its weight and indicate the date of freezing.
The prepared pieces can be safely stored in the freezer now.
When needed, take the frozen pieces out of the freezer and use them for cooking.
Do not keep it in a warm environment right after taking it out: the product should be defrosted on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator first. Therefore, if you plan to use it in the morning or afternoon, place the cheese on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator the night before.
Can You Freeze Cheese Slices?
If desired, cheese can be frozen pre-sliced. For even slicing I use a special cheese knife, which does not change the texture of cheese and allows you to cut it into even slices.
Please note that if you just put the slices on top of each other and freeze them like this, you simply won’t be able to separate them later. This problem can be easily avoided. Cut the parchment paper into pieces the size of the slices of cheese. Afterwards, place a piece of parchment paper between each slice of cheese. If there is no parchment paper at hand, sprinkle every cheese slice with some starch or flour when stacking them.
Carefully place the slices into a container, close it tightly and put it in the freezer. Do not forget to mark the containers with small labels with information about the date of freezing, the weight and type of cheese.
This cheese is convenient to use for hamburgers, hot sandwiches and cheesecakes.
Can You Freeze Shredded Cheese?
Place grated cheese in a sealed zip lock bag. You can also use a plastic container for this purpose.
Do not forget to make a label with the date of freezing and the weight of the product and stick it to the bag.
Before putting it in the freezer, shake the bag gently in order for grated cheese to get evenly distributed in it.
Now, prepared bags are ready to be frozen. First, carefully place them side by side in one row. And after a few hours, when your cheese freezes, the bags can be stacked on top of each other. There will be no threat of deformation of cheese.
The cheese prepared this way can be used for making hot dishes – a pizza, for example.
Can You Freeze Cream Cheese?
Yes, it is possible. And it will increase the storage life of the product for up to five months. But be prepared: after defrosting it, its texture will become drier and even crumbly. If you plan to use it for baking or cooking, its new texture will not affect anything. But if you need cheese for spreading it on a bun or a piece of bread, I would not recommend freezing it at all.
How Do I Freeze Cream Cheese?
You can place the product in the freezer directly in its original packaging. But if you are planning to use it later by mixing it with the cream, I recommend doing it before freezing. It will help to preserve the natural texture of the product.
Pack the cheese into plastic containers and write down the date of freezing on them. After that, you can put these packages in the freezer.
It should be defrosted the same way we defrost hard cheeses: put the container on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator for the night, and in the morning you can use this cheese for cooking. If necessary, you can whip it with a mixer in order to get its smooth texture back.
Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese?
Definitely. But remember that, as with all cheeses described earlier, the product will change its texture after defrosting. And, therefore, they recommend using defrosted Ricotta only for cooking.
Freezing instructions are the same:
- If the cheese is still in its original packaging, put it in the freezer just like that. Do not forget to indicate the date of freezing.
- If the original packaging was opened, transfer the product into a plastic container or a zip lock bag. If you see any whey, drain it.
- Put the packaged cheese in the freezer.
- When you are ready to use it, defrost cheese gradually by placing it for several hours on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
If done properly, you can store frozen Ricotta for 3-4 months.
Can You Freeze Cottage Cheese?
Yes. This product is very similar to Ricotta by its texture, composition and properties. So, all the rules of freezing are equally applicable to both of them.
Can You Freeze Mozzarella Cheese?
If you want, you can freeze Mozzarella too. It is a semi-soft kind of cheese which by its composition and texture stands somewhere between Ricotta and Gouda.
You can freeze it in one of the three ways described above: in one piece, sliced or grated.
The storage life of this cheese, if frozen, is 3 to 4 months.
Chefs always have a bag of interesting ideas that make it possible to store cheese for a longer period of time with minimum loss of quality.
I’ve compiled a list of all the important points on this topic in order to share them with my readers:
- To improve the appearance of the cheese after freezing, soak it in milk for 1-2 hours.
- A sliced product withstands being frozen worse than the whole product.
- Hard cheeses without holes withstand the effect of freezing much better.
- It is important that the cheese stored in the freezer has an airtight packaging.
- If you decide to slice cheese before freezing it, use parchment paper between the slices so that they do not stick together.
- If there is no parchment paper at hand, use flour or starch.
- If you know how you will use cheese later and how much of it you will need at a time, divide it into solid pieces and freeze them separately.
- Do not defrost cheese in the microwave or hot water. It will simply melt and become a completely different product.
- If you want just to extend the storage life of your cheese for a few days and you do not want to freeze it, wrap it into a piece of cloth soaked in salt water, and place it in the refrigerator.
If you use these tips, you can extend the storage life of almost any kind of cheese. But remember that even if all the conditions are met, the frozen product will not have the taste and appearance of the fresh cheese, so, freeze it only if necessary.
Proper Ways Of Storing Cheese
After going over the facts – can you freeze cheese? – let’s get deeper into the subject and find out the rules of storing cheese without freezing it.
It is important to remember that cheese loses its original texture not only at extremely low, but also at high temperatures. And at a humidity of less than 90% this product begins to dry quickly.
Therefore, all cheeses should be stored in a ventilated room at an air temperature of 37.5 – 46.5 ° F and a relative humidity of about 90%. It is very important that these conditions remain stable throughout the entire storage period. No, I do not encourage you to install a thermometer and a hygrometer in the refrigerator. All regular refrigerators support the humidity and temperature that I’ve mentioned. But, if you get cheese out of the fridge, do not forget to immediately put it back as soon as you are done cutting a piece for yourself.
It is better to keep cheese on the bottom shelf or even lower – in fruits and vegetables compartment. It has the required humidity and temperature level.
Never store cheese on the top shelf or on the door of the refrigerator. It dries very quickly if stored there.
The latest generation refrigerators provide multi-channel blow-off systems that remove unpleasant odors. In general, these are very useful systems, but they slightly reduce natural humidity. In order not to let the cheese get dry, keep it in a glass, plastic or a ceramic container or wrap it in a food wrap. Such measures will help not only to prevent drying, but will preserve its aroma and taste. The fact is: cheeses quickly absorb the smell of the products placed nearby, which negatively affects their taste.
To keep cheese from mold growing or drying, store it in two packages: first wrap it into a parchment paper or a plastic food wrap, and then wrap it into a plastic bag or put it into a cheese bowl with a lid.
It is also important to remember that vacuum-packed cheese or unopened cheese pieces can be stored in the refrigerator for a longer period of time compared to individual small pieces.
Storing Cheese Of Different Kinds
Hard cheeses can be stored at home for a long time. Depending on its kind, the period may vary between 10 and 30 days. At the same time, it is necessary to regularly control a possible growth of mold.
The storage life of soft cheeses is much shorter, and for some kinds of cheeses it is only three days.
Brined cheeses are best to be stored in salt water or weak whey brine. Before use, do not pour boiling water over the product. Because of the heat, the cheese starts melting, so it loses its fats and protein. To reduce the salty taste, cut it into chunks and soak it for ten hours in a warm boiled water (of room temperature) or, even better, in milk.
Tips And Life Hacks
- When storing cheese in a plastic bag, place a piece of sugar next to it. In this case, the cheese will not have mold growing on it.
- If mold does appear, carefully cut it out: about 1 inch around and inward the mold. Do not worry: the mold does not usually penetrate cheese deeper than that.
- Before serving, take out the cheese in advance (approximately 1 hour in advance). It will help to restore the natural aroma and taste of the product. Always cut the cheese immediately before serving. Storing the product sliced is not recommended.
I tried to give the most detailed answer to the question of whether you can freeze cheese or not. As you can see, it all depends on the kind of cheese and its intended use after defrosting. I hope that my article will be able to help you to extend the storage life of this valuable and delicious product. And if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask me in the comment section. And please do not forget to share this article on social networks if you find it interesting and useful.