Cheese is a staple in all cuisine. It has its place in almost anything from Caesar salad to casseroles to soups to sandwiches.
This dairy product is also best used and served fresh for its maximum flavor. But, when you have to deal with an extra amount, you might be asking yourself: can I freeze cheese?
Can Cheese Be Frozen?
A short answer, yes. But, can you freeze cheese successfully? Well, it depends. There are some caveats for you to understand before freezing cheeses.
In this article, we cover best practices in freezing cheese and whether it is worth trying.
How Freezing and Thawing Affect Cheeses
Freezing has been an ultimate home preservation method. When it comes to freezing cheese, some people might find it unfamiliar.
While nutritional values are not a concern, freezing significantly affects the texture and flavor.
During freezing, water content turns into ice crystals, which later disrupt the cheese’s internal structure.
During thawing, the water is released. As a result, thawed cheese becomes drier and crumbly. This is mostly a big concern for soft cheeses.
Due to the altered texture, previously frozen cheese is best to use in cooking. That means, if you plan to serve them for a platter or on top of Caesar salad, freezing is not your way to go.
Which Types of Cheese to Freeze: Hard vs. Soft Cheeses
There are thousands of cheese varieties out there. Technically, you can freeze any of them.
However, not all frozen cheeses produce a satisfactory result when thawed. Some types freeze well, while others don’t.
As a general rule, most hard cheeses freeze better than soft and fresh varieties. (*)
|Best Cheeses to Freeze||Worst Cheeses to Freeze|
|– Cheddar||– Brie|
|– Cheese slices||– Camembert|
|– Edam||– Cheese spread|
|– Gouda||– Cottage cheese|
|– Mozzarella (shredded)||– Cream cheese|
|– Shredded pizza cheese (store-bought)||– Paneer|
|– Parmesan||– Queso fresco|
|– Swiss cheese||– Ricotta|
|– Goat cheese||– String cheese|
Aged, hard cheeses like Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, cheddar, and Gouda are entirely usable after thawing, especially if they are grated before freezing.
A block of mozzarella and packaged shredded cheeses (such as pizza cheeses) are also good candidates for freezing. But, don’t freeze fresh mozzarella as it is high in moisture.
Soft and fresh curd cheeses such as cottage, ricotta, cream cheese, and queso fresco are not the best candidates for freezing. They turn dry, grainy, and crumbly after thawing.
Some types of soft cheese with higher fat content, such as Brie and Camembert, luckily tend to stand freezing temperature better than the others.
For cream cheese, the brick one freezes much better than cream cheese spread. The latter takes on the dry side and becomes much less spreadable after thawing.
Although freezing is not always the most ideal option, of course, you can still freeze soft cheeses and use them for future cooking. This is better than creating unnecessary food waste.
How to Freeze and Thaw Various Types of Cheese
Now that you know what to expect from freezing this dairy product, follow these tips below if you decide to give it a try.
You can freeze cheeses in a block or shredded. Keep in mind that they turn dry and hardened after thawing, making them a little difficult to slice and grate. That being said, grated cheese is easier to handle.
The crucial step in minimizing the quality loss during freezing is to wrap them properly.
If you just bought extra packs, you can freeze them in their original packaging. For an opened package, wrap it tightly in aluminum foil and pack it in a resealable freezer bag. Suck out as much air as possible from the bag and seal it tightly.
For sliced cheeses, separate each slice with parchment paper to prevent them from sticking.
Suppose you only use a small amount at a time. In that case, it is recommended to divide it into an appropriate amount for one recipe. It takes much less time to thaw, and you don’t need to deal with leftovers.
Don’t forget to write the name, amount, and freezing date. Simple labeling makes it easier for you to navigate the contents of your freezer.
Transfer wrapped cheese to the freezer. From a safety perspective, all frozen foods should be continuously frozen at 0 °F.
To thaw frozen cheese, simply place it in the refrigerator and let it soften up slowly. Don’t defrost it on the kitchen counter or anywhere else outside the fridge.
For a large block, thaw it overnight to have it ready in the morning. If you have frozen shredded cheese, you can also throw it right into the pan while cooking.
Use the thawed cheese immediately or within a few days. Keep it refrigerated.
Various Ways to Use Previously Frozen Cheese
As mentioned earlier, thawed cheeses are more suitable to use in cooked recipes. Here are some ideas to use up your frozen supply.
- Creamy sauces for pasta
- Baked dishes (casseroles, mac & cheese, etc.)
- Grilled cheese
- Melt over pasta and vegetables
- Add to soups and stews
How Long Can You Freeze Cheese?
Hard cheeses such as cheddar, Swiss, Gouda, and Parmesan are best used within 6 months after freezing. (*)
Packaged shredded cheese and mozzarella are also best to use for up to 6 months. Goat cheese lasts up to 3 months.
Meanwhile, soft cheeses such as ricotta, cream cheese, and cottage can be frozen up to 1 to 2 months.
|Hard cheeses (cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, etc.)||6 months|
|Soft cheeses (cottage, ricotta, brick cream cheese, etc.)||1 to 2 months|
|Packaged shredded cheese, mozzarella||6 months|
|Goat cheese||3 months|
It is possible to freeze cheese longer than the recommended time. While safety is not a concern, prolonged freezing may result in more pronounced texture and flavor changes. Plus, freezer burn may start to take over.
Not all types of cheese need refrigeration. As a rule of thumb, soft varieties such as ricotta, cottage, brie must be refrigerated at all times. Meanwhile, hard cheeses such as Parmesan, cheddar, and Gouda don’t have to be refrigerated, but they last longer if refrigerated. (*)
You should discard any moldy soft cheeses, except those that are naturally ripened with molds, such as Camembert or blue cheese. Meanwhile, if molds appear in hard cheeses, you can scrape off at least 1 inch around and below the moldy part. Other signs of spoiled cheese are sour smell and off-flavor.
Yes. You can freeze whole cheesecake or in slices, baked or no-bake. Cheesecake without toppings freezes better than one with toppings. Add the toppings later before serving. Enjoy the frozen cake within 1 to 3 months after freezing.
In general, semi-hard and hard cheeses freeze better than soft varieties. That means varieties such as cheddar and Gouda are more freezer-friendly than ricotta, cottage, or cream cheese.
Freezing and thawing alter the texture and flavor. The thawed version becomes crumbly and drier, making it more suitable for cooking instead of served on its own.
To conclude, freezing cheese might not be the most ideal preservation method. However, if you need to deal with excessive stock, freezing is still a feasible option.
*image by juanlu-carma/depositphotos