Yes, most hard cheese can be frozen. Cheese such as Cheddar, Mozzarella, and Parmesan can be put inside the freezer compartment without affecting texture and flavor. No effect if the cheese is properly wrapped and not frozen together with odorous substance.
The scenario is not uncommon for most of us who have only one fridge at home. We put in fresh pork, chicken, sausage, and then the cheese. It will surely absorb meat flavor after some time.
I can only guess why you’ve asked if cheese can be frozen. You want to keep your favorite cheese for a longer period. You’ve made some cheese but wasn’t able to consume it all. Or you intentionally made a lot for other purposes, for sale or for use at a later period.
Whatever the reason maybe, you need to freeze it. Not just freeze. It should be, to freeze properly.
In this article I’ll teach you the secret tricks to successfully freeze all types of cheese. Plus other nonfreezing techniques as bonus.
Freezing Cheesing May Cause Crumbly and Watery Texture
Things won’t always go the way you want. Soft cheese such as ricotta and cottage cheese will become watery after thaw. While semi-hard cheese like cheddar, Swiss and blue cheese may become crumbly.
Quick freezing is the Secret Trick to Preserve All Types of Cheese
Water, when frozen, changed its phase from liquid to solid. This process causes the water molecule to expand, thereby breaking surrounding molecular bonds.
If we talk about freezing cheese, the frozen water molecules destroy protein to protein bonds, thus, making the cheese watery or crumbly.
However, quickly freezing the cheese with lower temperature, which cannot be achieved by a home fridge, does not allow water molecules to expand. Therefore, protecting cheese integrity in frozen state and after thaw.
Direct contact with liquid nitrogen freezes the cheese instantly. Supercooled temperature of -48ºC can also do the same feat.
Can You Quick Freeze Cheese at Home?
The answer is, “it depends.” Powerful chess freezers can quickly freeze while a common home fridge will have a hard time.
The next affecting factor is the amount of load the freezer has. Loading more requires the fridge to work longer and harder to freeze all the items. I suggest not overloading the humble machine.
The 3rd factor is the cheese size. Reduce cheese sizes so the cold temperature can easily penetrate through. Cut large blocks into several smaller chunks to facilitate freezing.
If you can follow the two criteria, then after a few trials, you can quickly freeze cheese at your own home.
Read my post on substitute for romano cheese.
Remove Moisture to Make it Last Longer
Cheese is a rich protein source and so bacteria loves it. However, lowering the moisture will restrict bacterial growth. The lower the moisture gets the longer the cheese lasts.
Cheese categories according to hardness and moisture levels.
- Hard cheese – 13-34% moisture
- Medium moisture – 34-45% moisture
- High moisture – 45-55% moisture
- Very soft – 55-80% moisture
Acid Such as Vinegar or Lemon Juice Will Make Cheese Last Longer
Adding acid, such as vinegar or acidification by action of microbe and enzyme is an essential step in cheese making.
After the process, letting the cheese be acidic makes the cheese last longer. As most spoilage bacteria cannot tolerate acidic foods.
You can make the cheese acidic and at the same time taste better by using fruit acids such as lemon, pineapple and raw mango extract. Label it as “Cheese with Natural Pineapple Flavor” to anticipate consumers reactions.
Longer Shelf Life by Adding More Salt
Many recipes say, “add salt to taste.” But in reality, “add more salt to preserve.” Back in the days, when fridge was not yet invented, salting was a popular food preservation trick, especially for meat, fish and cheese.
More often than not, the cheese you’re getting from a nearby grocery is too salty. And if you’re a Roquefort cheese lover, you’re getting 1.06 grams salt per 30grams cheese. For the record Roquefort is the saltiest.
Make the shelf life longer by adding more salt. Don’t overdo it however. What you want is cheese, not salt.
Proper Packaging to Prevent Microbial Growth and Extend Shelf Life
Placing the cheese in an airtight bag can prevent the growth of air loving microbes. The reason why most shelf stable cheese you’ve seen in grocery shelves are nicely wrapped with plastic and packed in cartons. Hard and semi-hard cheese are sometimes vacuum packed to exclude more oxygen.
I strongly suggest putting the cheese in proper packaging. It will prevent microbial growth, thus, extending shelf life.
Add Preservatives to Make the Cheese Shelf Stable
Adding preservatives such as salt, acid and other microbial deterrents is yet another way to preserve cheese. This practice is so severe that many commercial products are laden with chemical additives. Every time you see unfamiliar ingredients in the list, regard it as additive.
I’m not imposing you to do this kind of thing. However, if you are producing cheese for distribution. Then, you’ll come to a point when you need to add preservatives.
Products may stay in travel and on display shelves for months before reaching consumers. You have to make sure the cheese stays good until the customer finally open the cheese.
Finally, you can now successfully freeze every cheese in your arsenal. Gather all the things you need and start practicing the knowledge you’ve learned.
Fresh cheese is great but you don’t always have the time to prepare it. Sometimes you need to make a bunch for the whole week. A gallon for the next week party. Or a ton for your business.
Get a capable freezer or just tidy up the one you already have. Create freezer sections for better cold air circulation. Cut bigger cheese to smaller chunks so cold temperature can penetrate easily.
Whenever you need to freeze, bear in mind to always use quick freezing. It will preserve cheese without affecting quality.
Your choice is not limited to freezing. Adding acid and salt, removing moisture and putting the cheese in proper packaging will significantly help extend shelf life. And if you don’t mind, add a modest amount of preservative in accordance to your country’s regulations.
Check my other article on parmesan cheese substitute.