We all know that cheese is best kept in the refrigerator, but can cheese be frozen to prolong its shelf life? The short answer would be YES!
As you know, there are different kinds of cheeses, from soft cheeses to hard cheeses. If you managed to buy cheese in bulk or have leftover cheese that you don’t want to waste, you may want to consider freezing it. However, not all cheese types may be suitable for freezing. Not only that, but people also tend to have split opinions of which type of cheese that is good for freezing. And if you are a gourmet cheese lover you will likely say no to freezing, but let’s take a closer look.
Some cheeses can withstand the freezing process better than others. From a scientific standpoint, the texture and taste will change. This is because of the open texture in cheese and the amount of moisture that is present. Once you freeze cheese, ice crystals will form, which in turn will break apart the curds causing the cheese to change texture. The cheese can become crumbly and dry, but it can actually hold its flavor quite well. It really comes down to the type of cheese, how you store it in the freezer, and how you intend to eat it. If your intention is to use cheese for a recipe it will melt, so you will likely enjoy its full flavor. On the other hand, if you eat cheese after it has been thawed, some cheese types will not freeze well, unless you tell your taste buds not to be too picky over the flavor and texture.
Hard or semi-hard cheeses are the best cheeses to freeze. These cheeses will likely wind up crumbly and a little dry after freezing, which may make them hard to slice, but the flavor will be just as good as it was before freezing. So while you may have already tried to freeze cheddar cheese, you may not have realized that there are many other hard and semi-hard cheeses that freeze well including:
All hard or semi-hard cheeses are of the better options to freeze if you intend to eat them once thawed.
Semi-soft and soft cheeses are also types that may freeze well, but may be more suitable to mix into recipes than enjoying them on a nice cheese platter. You should try yourself as it is a matter of taste. Some of them include:
Most hard to soft cheeses can be frozen for the intention to be used for cooking or baking. Mozzarella is for example a popular ingredient in frozen pizzas.
Some of the worst cheeses to freeze would be the ones that you probably forked out big bucks for per pound or kilo. You need to enjoy a gourmet cheese without altering its flavor by storing it in the freezer. They were really not made for that.
Other types of cheese that are not recommenced to freeze would be softer cheeses or cream style cheeses. They can be frozen, but their texture and consistency may not come out close to its original quality. They include:
Cheeses with higher moisture have a more fragile texture and therefore may become the worst cheeses to freeze. However, if you intend to use them for recipes, they will work just fine.
The best way to freeze cheese will depend on how you prepare it to be frozen. You can prepare cheese for freezing by slicing it, shredding it, or cutting into smaller blocks.
Cheese slices: Freeze cheese slices by placing wax paper in between each slice to separate them. You can then wrap the group of slices tightly in plastic wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil. For extra protection you can then put all of it in a freezer bag or rigid, airtight container. If you bought a package of sliced cheese you can freeze them in the package they came in.
Shredded cheese: Freeze shredded cheese in freezer bags that can also be placed in a rigid container to protect it, or use resealable freezer bags. Make sure to remove as much air as possible.
Block cheese: Freeze block cheese in small pieces that are no more than ½ pound per chunk. This will help during the thawing process. Block cheese can also be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place it in a freezer bag or airtight, rigid container. Using a food sealer is also a great option as it removes all the air from the bag.
Regardless of the way you decided to prepare and freeze cheese, you will want to wrap it tightly. Also, make sure to label your frozen cheese with contents and the date.
If you have properly prepared your cheese, it should keep very well in the freezer for a few months. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, frozen cheeses can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Defrosting cheese should be done using the refrigerator. Place the frozen cheese in the refrigerator the night before you plan to use it. The best would be to thaw it in the coldest part of the refrigerator and let it thaw slowly. After the frozen cheese has thawed, use it as you would fresh cheese. Use within a few days of thawing. Do not refreeze cheese.
Since the texture of frozen cheese may be slightly altered, cheese that has been frozen may not be ideal to use fresh on things like salads. It may also prove to be a little more challenging to cut or shred. You may want to find a recipe that allows you to mix or heat the cheese within a dish that can disguise the texture. This will allow you to still enjoy the flavor that you were able to retain and any dryness that may be present is no longer an issue. Defrosted cheese can be used in all kinds of recipes including sauces, dips, casseroles, rice dishes and more. Taking the time to properly freeze leftover or extra cheese will prove to be well worth your time.
Is it safe to freeze cheese?
As long as you wrap up the cheese properly and it is not old, you can certainly keep cheese frozen for a few months.
If I freeze block cheese, can it easily be shredded?
You could easily shred frozen cheese in a food processor, but it would then have to be small blocks of cheese at a time. However, a thawed block of cheese is much harder to shred because it will likely crumble and it will get messy.
Can frozen cheese be added directly to recipes?
Yes, there are several recipes where you can add frozen cheese and let it melt as it cooks up with the rest of the ingredients.
Can you freeze Romano cheese?
Yes, you can freeze Romano cheese, but make sure it is grated before freezing it. If you freeze a block of Romano cheese and try to grate it once it is thawed, it will likely crumble.