Too much cheese? That sounds like a delicious problem, but we know fellow cheese lovers don’t want to waste a single slice. Read on to learn exactly how easy it is to freeze your favorites and save the leftovers so you can cheese confidently both now and later.
Freezing Cheese Basics
Whether you overbought because your favorite cheese was on sale or had a last minute party cancelation, have no fear. You can easily freeze cheese by following just a few simple steps and get an extra one to three months to find the perfect way to use it.
Before you roll up your sleeves to freeze some cheese, you should understand which cheeses fare the best heading into the ice. Cheese texture is the number one factor that affects its ability to stand up to freezing.
Cheese Texture and Freezing
To best understand which cheese will stand the test of freezing, it’s important to understand the different cheese textures and what cheese falls into each category.
Semi-Hard and Hard Cheeses
Semi-hard and hard cheeses have lower moisture content due to their longer aging process. These types of cheeses are also some of the most versatile and hardest-working cheeses in your meal planning arsenal. Their lower moisture content means fewer ice crystals will form in the cheese during freezing, so the taste and texture are minimally impacted by freezing and thawing, unlike softer cheeses with higher moisture content.
Examples of semi-hard and hard cheeses that freeze well are:
Soft Cheeses and Semi-Soft Cheeses
These cheeses tend to not fare as well as semi-hard and hard cheeses during the freezing process. This is because soft and semi-soft cheeses are categorized as having a higher moisture content and either no rinds or a soft edible rind. Due to the higher moisture content in these cheeses, more ice crystals form during freezing. These crystals thaw and affect the texture of the cheese, typically in a less than appealing way.
These cheeses can be frozen for up to six weeks while still mostly retaining their flavor, but the texture may be compromised. Freezing softer cheeses for longer than six weeks will likely cause the cheese to start to lose its unique texture, which still may be okay if you are using it as an ingredient in a cooked or baked dish like pizza.
Common soft cheeses are:
- Blue cheeses
Semi-soft cheese includes:
What is the Best Way to Freeze Cheese?
As with freezing most foods, the key to making cheese last longer and retain as much of its original taste and texture as possible is to ensure you take the proper precautions when freezing. This includes getting as much air out of the packaging as possible and wrapping the cheese tightly.
The items you will need to freeze cheese are:
- freezer proof labels
- parchment paper
- high quality plastic wrap
- tight closing sealable bags
Consider using wrap and bags that are specifically designed for freezing foods, as they will keep foods fresh longer and help prevent freezer burn.
Freezing Cheese in its Original Packaging
For freezing, it is always best to keep the cheese unopened and in its original packaging. The first step is to take the cheese and wrap it in a layer of parchment paper. This will help absorb any moisture from getting to the cheese. Next, place it in a plastic freezer storage bag, and then try to push as much of the air out of the bag as possible before sealing it tightly.
Freezing Open Cheese
If the cheese has been opened or is no longer in its original packaging, make sure it is sliced into portions — this will help with thawing. First, wrap the cheese in a layer of parchment paper, just like with cheese in its original packaging. Next, wrap a layer of plastic wrap tightly around the cheese, and repeat with a second layer. Now, place the wrapped cheese in the plastic freezer storage bag and try to get most of the air out of it, just like you do with cheese still in its packaging.
Always label your cheese with the cheese type and date before freezing. If you pride yourself on being organized in the kitchen, set a reminder for four weeks to check on the freshness of the frozen cheese. If you see the wrapping has been compromised, you will want to thaw the cheese and plan to use it as soon as possible. If the wrap is still in good condition, consider moving it to your refrigerator in the coming days or weeks and make a plan to use it in a recipe or just a quick snack.
Cheese Thawing Basics
When it’s time to thaw the cheese, always thaw in the refrigerator. Allow about 12 hours for every pound of cheese to properly thaw. Do not unwrap the cheese until it feels soft to the touch. Then unwrap the cheese and inspect the packaging. If the cheese packaging is still intact, carefully open the package and try to slice the cheese to determine if it’s thawed. If the cheese is difficult to handle and crumbles, take a fresh piece of parchment paper and wrap the cheese in the parchment paper and then a layer of plastic wrap. Check the cheese again in a few hours.
If the wrapping has been cut or broken in the process, inspect the cheese before slicing. If it’s pale or has white spots, the cheese may have been exposed to bacteria. In this case, consider throwing it away and finding another fresh option for your cheesing needs.
That’s all to say, some cheeses don’t have to be thawed at all if you plan to use them in a baked dish or pizza. For example, frozen shredded cheese or grated cheese can be sprinkled on a dish or pizza that will be baked, which means having these cheeses in a well-stocked freezer is a great idea.
Still have questions about freezing and thawing cheese? Try our Cello Cheese Chat and find the answers you need to cheese confidently. For even more cheese information, tips, and even recipes, be sure to sign-up for our newsletter or grab our guide on making your own show-stopping cheese board.