Whether you have a dinner party that you'e prepared a cheese board for or bought a particular type of cheese for a recipe you didn't end up making, cheese is one of those foods that you often find left over in your fridge.
To reduce food waste and save money, you may have thought about freezing excess cheese. But, can you freeze cheese and what are the rules if doing so? Here's our definitive guide to everything you need to know about freezing cheese.
Can you freeze cheese?
The short answer is yes, hard cheeses and most semi-hard cheeses can be frozen. Cheddar, Gouda, Emmental and Parmesan for example will freeze and maintain their flavour well, however the texture will most likely be compromised slightly.
Creamier cheeses such as Brie, cream cheese and Camembert should be avoided when freezing as they have a higher water content, which means they will be susceptible to damage caused by ice-crystals forming in the freezing process.
How do you prepare cheese for freezing and how soon does it need to be frozen?
When freezing most foods, even cheese that can be kept chilled for longer than most perishable goods, it’s best to freeze as soon as possible. Do not freeze after the use-by or sell-by date.
The best way to freeze hard or semi-hard cheese is to grate it or cut it into smaller cubes. If freezing a larger block, once defrosted it will have lost its natural moisture and will have a tendency to crumble making it almost impossible to slice - it certainly won’t be cheese board-worthy. However freezing cheese definitely has a place in our freezer drawer, it’s great for saving excess cheese going to waste and always handy to have a little supply at the ready to use in cooking.
How do you store cheese properly in the freezer?
Highly flavoured foods if not properly wrapped will transfer their smell and flavour to other items in the freezer, so putting cheese into an additional freezer-proof sealable bag or overwrapping with a strong foil will prevent this.
Use freezer-proof bags to store grated hard or semi-hard cheese, squeeze out the excess air in the bag before sealing, then place in a second bag and seal. Label with the date of freezing and try to lay the bag completely flat in the freezer, this will stop it clumping together. Once frozen you can re-arrange as liked!
Wrap cut cubes of cheese in cling film, then place inside another freezer proof bag (again, squeezing out excess air) this will not only help keep everything organised but it will also avoid cross-flavourings. Label with the date of freezing, then freeze.
How long can they last for in the freezer?
Frozen cheese can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What does freezing do to their flavour? And what is the flavour like once defrosted?
The flavour when freezing hard or semi-hard cheese maintains well. It is the texture that changes a little - this is why grating is a good option when preparing cheese for the freezer.
How should they be defrosted once removed from the freezer and how quickly should they be used?
For cubes of frozen cheese, defrost in the fridge overnight. For frozen grated cheese, if using in cooking, it’s possible to use straight from frozen or scatter the desired amount of grated cheese out onto a plate and defrost in the fridge for 1-2 hours. This will work perfectly well in sandwiches. Once defrosted use within 3 days.
What can cheese best be used for after freezing?
Whether you choose to defrost first or not, frozen cheddar is great used in this ultimate Cheesy fish pie. Or try this Luxury truffle mac and cheese for a real treat – it contains 3 types of hard cheese that are perfect for grating and storing in the freezer. Or try this delicious vegetarian Cheesy stuffed mushroom – a tasty side dish using grated vegetarian cheddar.
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