Find out how to freeze cheese so that it keeps its aroma, flavor, and texture. Learn about the types of cheese that freeze best.
Cheese is a delicious and nutritious food that can be a great addition to any meal. The best ones aren’t cheap, though, so when they go on sale, you’ll want to stock up on as much of them as you can get!
When you do, freezing can be a great way to store all the cheese that you can’t eat for longer than a few weeks. In this article, we’ll look at how to properly store different types of cheese in the freezer.
Can I Freeze Cheese?
Freezing cheese is a great way to make it last longer.
It’s important to note that putting cheese in the freezer doesn’t change its nutritional value in any way. However, it does change its texture, usually making it more crumbly or grainy. Cheese that has been frozen doesn’t melt quite as well as fresh cheese, either.
For the same reasons, it’s best to use cheese that has been frozen for cooked and baked recipes. Since the texture and quality of the cheese are changed after freezing, it won’t be the same when it’s been thawed but hasn’t been cooked.
How Do I Freeze Cheese?
The main thing to know when freezing cheese is that it needs to be packaged in such a way that air cannot get to it. If your cheese is not tightly sealed while frozen it will develop freezer burn which will damage its quality and flavor.
You’ll want to separate the cheese into amounts that you will use. For example, if it would normally take you a month to use up a block of Cheddar cheese, consider cutting it into four sections. That way you can thaw enough for a week, ensuring it stays as fresh as possible.
You can leave your cheese in its original package and either in a plastic freezer bag or wrap in foil. Cheese can also be shredded or sliced prior to freezing. Shredded cheese should be put in a freezer bag, ensuring that you remove as much air from the bag as possible. Cheese slices should be separated with parchment paper and then placed in a freezer bag.
How Long Can Cheese Be Frozen?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, frozen food stays safe to eat indefinitely. Cheese is no exception to the rule. Eventually, though, all foods start to lose their best aroma, flavor, and texture, so don’t wait too long to eat that cheese in your freezer up.
Cheese will retain most of its flavor for 3-9 months in the freezer. The longer the cheese is frozen, the more its texture will change (and, thus, degrade). Frozen cheese tends to have a crumbly or rubbery texture after freezing—and that change can be countered by cooking technique but not reverted.
Soft cheeses shouldn’t be stored longer than 3 months, while hard cheeses can safely be stored up to 9 months.
How Do I Thaw Frozen Cheese?
When you are ready to use your frozen cheese, place it in the refrigerator and let it thaw for 8-12 hours or overnight.
How long the cheese takes to thaw will depend on its size and type. Shredded cheese, for example, can be used for topping pizza or other baked dishes without waiting for it to thaw completely.
Which Cheeses Can Be Frozen?
Generally, hard cheeses freeze better than soft cheeses because they contain less moisture. However, any cheese can be frozen safely.
When in doubt, here are the cheeses that freeze particularly well:
Cheddar cheese has been around for a while. According to Juliet Harbutt, author of the World Cheese Book, it was introduced to the Brits by the Romans as early as the 1st century AD.
Cheddar, a hard cheese that, depending on the aging process, can be mild or sharp, is ideal for freezing. After thawing, it can be used for baked macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, or, to the surprise of some, as an addition to muffins or biscuits.
Named after the city of Colby in the state of Wisconsin, this cheese was first developed in 1885 and quickly turned into a staple American melter.
A mild, medium-texture cheese, Colby stores well in the freezer. Colby cheese is ideal for melting on top of burgers, adding to casseroles, or sprinkling shredded on top of hot chili.
Edam is a successor of the hard cheeses introduced to the Dutch by the Romans. It’s a washed-curd cheese, which means that some of the whey gets replaced by hot water in the vat after the curd has been cut.
Edam is a dry, light, mild-tasting cheese. While often eaten as an accompaniment to fresh fruit, it can also be frozen and used in soups, cheese sauces, and pasta dishes.
Gouda, like Edam, is a result of the cheese-making traditions introduced to The Netherlands before the fall of the Roman Empire. Also like Edam, it is a washed-curd cheese.
This cheese has a sweet, buttery flavor and a creamy texture. After thawing, gouda cheese tastes great in omelets, melted on top of stuffed peppers, or over roasted vegetables like asparagus.
What cannot be said about the greatest melter of all time, Italian mozzarella? Made out of buffalo or cow milk, fresh or dried, this cheese is carried by virtually every supermarket and is a staple ingredient in both Mediterranean and North American cuisine.
A mild, slightly tangy cheese, mozzarella is also well suited to freezing. It can be used to top pizzas, as an ingredient in lasagna or other pasta dishes, and added to garlic bread.
Parmesan—or Parmigiano-Reggiano, as it’s known in Italy—isn’t just the ultimate cheese for grating on top of pasta dishes. It’s also a cheese that keeps surprisingly well in the freezer.
This hard cheese has a tangy, salty flavor and is ideal for freezing due to its low water content. Once thawed, parmesan is perfect for sprinkling on top of pasta dishes, adding to eggs, or topping a pizza.
With a long shelf life and a strong flavor, which meant you didn’t need all that much of it to make supper, provolone used to be a cheese of the poor. Now, it’s considered nothing short of a true Italian delicacy.
A hard cheese that can be sweet and mild or sharp in taste, it stores well in the freezer. Provolone goes great with baked chicken and it can also be added to steak sandwiches and frittatas.
Swiss cheese has holes because one of the bacteria used in its recipe produces carbon dioxide, which builds up inside the paste during aging. It’s said that more holes mean more flavor. So much so, that Swiss cheesemakers call cheese wheels without holes “blind.”
With a tang and a slight nuttiness, Swiss cheese is mild, sweet, and addictively tasty. It freezes well and is perfect for tuna melts, Monte Cristo sandwiches, or ham and cheese casseroles.
Which Cheeses Don’t Freeze Well?
These cheeses tend to be better suited to eating fresh. While they can still be frozen, their quality is noticeably different upon thawing.
Many call Brie, or Brie de Maux, the king of cheeses. And for a good reason. What this cheese lacks in hardness, it compensates for in aroma and flavor.
Soft and creamy, Brie has a rich, earthy flavor. Typically eaten with fruit or crackers, it has a very high moisture content and is far from ideal for freezing. Frozen brie can be thawed and used for appetizers such as filling puffed pastry.
The recipe for Camembert is said to have been developed centuries ago by a farmer’s wife. Bless her soul because, today, this cheese is one of the finest delicacies that French cheesemaking has to offer.
A soft, creamy cheese, Camembert has a sweet, milky taste. Since it is usually eaten fresh with crackers, bread, or jams, it is not well-suited to freezing. If you do freeze your camembert, once thawed it is best used to make a hot dip.
A book for professional cheesemakers, called Improving the Flavour of Cheese, dates the recipe for cottage cheese to as far as 7,000 years ago in the Middle East.
Creamy and salty, cottage cheese can be frozen but it will change the texture and become grainy. Cottage cheese that has been frozen is best used in cooking, for example in lasagna or pancakes.
Goat cheese comes in many shapes and forms, and every self-respecting cheese-making nation has its own variety.
This tangy, slightly sweet cheese is best eaten fresh but can be frozen if necessary. Once thawed, goat cheese can be used on top of pizza or melted in sandwiches.
Also known as “Indian cottage cheese,” Paneer has a much-debated history. Some say the recipe for it was developed by the Ancient Indians. Others claim it was the Afgan-Iranians who introduced it.
This cheese is quite mild and has a buttery, milky flavor. Freezing will change the texture of paneer, but it will still taste great in dishes such as curry or soup.
Who hasn’t eaten—and cooked with—Italian Ricotta, the crème de la crème for baked pasta dishes, creamy pizza pies, and hearty cheesecakes?
This cheese has a high water content, a thick, soft texture, and a sweet, mild taste. It’s not ideal for storing in the freezer as the texture of the cheese becomes grainy. Frozen ricotta can be thawed and used in lasagna or other baked pasta dishes.