Fresh mozzarella has its place in all kinds of cuisine. From decadent pizza to spicy tacos and everything in between, mozzarella cheese is one of those products that can be found in every chef’s arsenal of ingredients.
It’s also one of those products that you’re likely to find on sale at the grocery store. Mozzarella isn’t an expensive cheese, so it makes sense to buy in bulk. However, when you get home with all of your loot, you might find yourself wondering, “can you freeze fresh mozzarella?”
The short and sweet answer – yes, you can! However, there are a few caveats you will want to pay attention to in order to keep your cheese as fresh and delicious as possible.
What Exactly is Mozzarella?
Mozzarella cheese is a sliceable cheese curd that is usually made out of cow’s milk. In some areas of the world, however, mozzarella can also be made from sheep’s milk or goat’s milk. Traditionally, mozzarella – or mozzarella di bufala – was made out of the milk of the Italian Mediterranean buffalo!
A cheese native to southern Italy, mozzarella is a pale white cheese that has a high moisture content. Since it is such a “wet” cheese, it is usually served the day after it is made.
Mozzarella has been around for centuries, and it can be used on all kinds of foods. It’s usually used on pizza as well as several different kinds of pasta dishes. It also tastes fantastic when served with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil in a classic Caprese salad!
Can You Freeze Fresh Mozzarella?
The nice thing about mozzarella is that, since it is a soft cheese, it retains its moisture, flavor, and texture quite well after freezing.
Unfortunately, of all the types of mozzarella, fresh mozzarella is one of the most difficult to freeze. It’s meant to be used fresh, ideally a day or two after it has been made. Shredded mozzarella is definitely easier to store in the freezer.
But that’s not to say that freezing fresh mozzarella cannot be done! Although it loses a bit of its initial texture and flavor after freezing, often becoming drier and crumbling a bit, it can easily be frozen – you’ll just have to change your expectations a bit.
How to Prevent Freezer Burn When Freezing Cheese?
The biggest thing to be aware of when freezing fresh mozzarella is that it is more likely to experience some freezer burn. In order to prevent freezer burn, you should wrap the cheese properly. This will reduce the likelihood of oxidation, which is what causes freezer burn.
Use a quality plastic wrap to keep things sealed in. If you have a large block of mozzarella to freeze, you may want to cut it up into a more reasonable size. This will not only help it freeze more quickly, but it will also make it easier for you to thaw.
How to Freeze Shredded Mozzarella
If you are freezing shredded mozzarella, lay it out on a baking sheet first. Flash freeze it for twenty minutes, which will make it easier to store and thaw later on, too. Then, put all of your shredded cheese in a freezer bag, sealing out any extra air before you seal. You may want to double-wrap the cheese, which will keep the freezer burn to a minimum.
Regardless of whether you are freezing a block of mozzarella cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese, make sure you clearly label the package with the date and contents.
On a positive note, blocks of fresh mozzarella freeze quickly.
How to Thaw Frozen Cheese
You can thaw the cheese for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator before using it, or, depending on the recipe, you can dump it right into your meal as you prepare it.
If you are freezing shredded fresh mozzarella, it will lose almost none of its taste and texture. You might just notice some of these reds have a tendency to cling together.
Defrosting the mozzarella slowly in the refrigerator (instead of on the counter) can help reduce this clumping. You can also sprinkle flour on the shredded cheese before freezing, which will prevent sticking.
What is the Shelf Life of Mozzarella?
Since mozzarella has so much water, most people serve it the day after it has been made. However, there are a few other options for keeping it fresh and delicious, too.
You can store mozzarella in a brine, which will allow it to last up to a week. Mozzarella can also be vacuum-sealed and refrigerated for up to a month.
There are some brands of shredded low-moisture mozzarella that can be refrigerated for up to six months. Check the date on your package of mozzarella to determine this, as the shelf life can vary by the brand and moisture content.
Freeze mozzarella, and you’ll likely be a little bit disappointed by the results – but if you know what to expect, that disappointment can be minimized! Fresh mozzarella that has been frozen may lose a bit of its original texture and flavor. It might be dry and crumbly, but that can be a good thing, too, especially if you are using it in a recipe that calls for shredded or crumbled cheese.
If your store-bought fresh mozzarella does not come in its own tub of liquid, you will want to stash it in the refrigerator, ideally in a pool of freshwater. Try to use it within a couple of days but make sure you change the water daily.
When stored properly in the refrigerator, fresh mozzarella can last from anywhere from two days to six months. It depends on the moisture content of the cheese and how it was packaged (shredded,vacuum-sealed, and low-moisture mozzarella cheeses last the longest).
You can, but it’s not necessary. The brine may become clumpy and won’t add as much to the flavor and texture of the cheese. If you want to use a brine, a better habit is to thaw the cheese and place it in a brine of salt and water as soon as it is thawed. This will help restore the salty flavor and delicious texture of the mozzarella that is often lost when it is frozen and thawed.
You can freeze premade mozzarella sticks. In fact, many stores sell them prepackaged in this manner. If you decide to freeze mozzarella cheese sticks, put them on a single platter before freezing. Put them in the freezer overnight. By flash-freezing them in this manner, the cheese sticks will freeze individually and you won’t have to worry about them sticking together.
When you’re ready to reheat your mozzarella cheese sticks, all you need to do is bake them in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.
Yes. Just make sure the wrap is tightly sealed and that you eat the balls within two months.
Again, yes. You can freeze mozzarella curd. The best way to do this is to cut the bag of curd in half and tightly wrap it in plastic wrap. Put it in the freezer, where it will last indefinitely.
Up Next: Can You Freeze Goat Cheese?
*Photo by Valentyn_Volkov/depositphotos