Freezing food is one of the best ways to not only make it keep longer but retain its nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. You can do that to fruits, veggies, and plenty others. But is freezing cheese a thing? Should you do it? And what happens when you do? You have questions, we have answers, so let’s begin!
The answer to the freezing cheese or not freezing cheese dilemma is simple: depends on what kind of cheese. Because we live in such a wonderfully cheesy world with so many varieties, textures, tastes, and flavors. There isn’t a general rule. It just depends on what cheese you want to keep in the freezer.
What happens when freezing cheese?
Of course, you can freeze any cheese you want. You are able to and it doesn’t take much to do it. That would just mean putting it in the freezer. But the real question is: how does the freezing process affect the texture and consistency of the cheese and is it still good to eat after you’ve taken it out and thawed it? Let’s first see what happens when cheese meets freezer.
When you pop the cheese in the freezer, ice crystals form within it. It all comes down to what happens when liquids are frozen: they expand. And then they contract when thawed. Because cheese is a fortunate blend of liquids and solids, some cheeses tend to break down when thawed, because the liquid and the solids have separated. The expanding and contracting leads to the molecular structure of the cheese being broken down. So those cheeses will turn into a paste with some liquid draining out of it.
These cheeses shouldn’t be frozen
Don’t freeze cheeses with holes or fissures, because they are especially damaged when frozen. And you shouldn’t be freezing artisanal cheeses or fine cheeses, because they will lose some of their flavors. Soft cheeses should also never see the inside of a freezer. That is: cottage cheese, feta, brie, queso fresco, ricotta cheese and cream cheese will be damaged by freezing temperatures.
The fresher a cheese is, the more moisture it has in its composition. And fresh cheese should also not be frozen if you still want to eat it.
Some types of cheese are fattier than others. Find out which ones right here.
What kind of cheese can you freeze?
Cheese that can be frozen is usually the one that’s hardest to grate! Very hard cheeses like Pecorino Romano and parmesan, or hard cheese like Cheddar, Swiss, Edam, Gouda and Colby should be just fine when frozen. The only downside could be developing a sort of metallic flavor. If you’re looking for a general rule, industrially produced cheese can be frozen really well, and keep most of its flavor and texture when thawed. But do you really want to freeze these cheeses? Because they keep pretty well in the fridge, as long as they’re wrapped tight!
How can you use frozen cheese?
After you’ve thawed the cheese, any cheese, it probably won’t be suitable for making sandwiches anymore. But if your end goal is to melt it on top of something, you can absolutely do that, on pizza or casseroles or whatever else you use cheese as a topping on. For me, it’s everything! You can melt it or grate it or crumble it and proceed nicely along.
How do you freeze and thaw cheese?
First of all, the cheese you freeze can keep up to six months in a refrigerator. Second of all, you can’t freeze huge blocks of cheese. If you have a whole wheel, you can’t just pop it in the freezer and be done with it. Frozen cheese should be cut into half a pound (225 grams) pieces, at most one pound (500 grams) pieces. So measure it and cut it in blocks.
The next step is wrapping it airtight. Use wax paper and foil or a resealable bag or an airtight container. Don’t forget to add a label with the date on it. I mean, who would want to eat two-year-old cheese, am I right?
And now, thawing! The important thing with this is to be patient and thaw it slowly. Move it from the freezer to the refrigerator. If the process is slow, the cheese is more likely to retain its necessary moisture.