Can you freeze cream cheese? Absolutely! I’ll teach you how. But it’s important to know the nitty gritty of cream cheese making first.
Cream cheese is a fresh cheese that only needs two ingredients, fresh milk and some acid in order to curdle the protein. Then, a food processor to smooth out the consistency.
Whenever you need cream cheese, you often make it in excess. Use a portion for the same day and store the rest in the fridge. It’s good for 10 days but you don’t have control of the situation. You suddenly go out of town or just forget you have the cream cheese.
Freezing the cream cheese give you some leeway. Forget about it and it’s still good after a month or two.
Freezing cream cheese is easy but there are some hard and fast rules to follow. Simply tossing it inside the freezer compartment may work but it won’t work all the time.
How to Effectively Freeze Cream Cheese?
Just put it inside the freezer and it will eventually be frozen. However, you need a bit more detail to effectively freeze cream cheese.
- Set the freezer temperature to the lowest setting. Some freezer compartments are technically capable of -18ºC. Less than – 48ºC is better while liquid nitrogen is one of the best.
- Don’t overload the freezer compartment. Loading more reduces efficiency thus lowering the chance of efficiently freezing you cream cheese. Conversely, overloading is the norm.
- If possible, divide the freezer compartment into sections. Spaces between food items speed up freezing by allowing faster air travel.
- If you’re going to freeze more, divide the items into several smaller containers.
How to Make Cream Cheese in Detail
- Simmer 1000 ml full cream or full fat milk in a pan. Not low fat, not skimmed and not semi-skimmed. It’s non negotiable. The more fat there is the more curd you can get.
- Once it comes to a simmer, add 3 tbsp lemon juice, vinegar, cider or any other acid available. Stir generously and see how the milk curdles.
- Remove from flame and filter through cheesecloth. Make sure to collect the whey by putting the filter setup on top of the bigger bowl.
- Let sit for 15 minutes up to 2 hours to allow draining of more water.
- To wash away acid flavor, fully cover the cheese with cheesecloth and put under running water for about 5 minutes. You may skip this step if the acidic taste never bothers you.
- Drain again.
- Put the cheese in a food processor, add a pinch of salt. Add herbs and spices if you like. Then, blend until smooth.
- If you think it’s too dry, put a teaspoon of whey and blend again.
- It will yield up to 1 cup of cream cheese that will last inside the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
Check my other post on ways to thicken cream cheese.
What are the Set Standards for Cream Cheese?
For the sake of some food technology geeks. The USFDA set cream cheese standard:
- Contain at least 33% milk fat
- Not more than 55% moisture
- A pH range of 4.4 to 4.9
If you live outside of the US, your country might have different standards. If you’re making it for your own use, the more reason for you not to bother.
How Long Can You Freeze Cream Cheese?
You can freeze cream cheese and keep it frozen for up to 2 months. That is in consideration of inevitable conditions. Fluctuating temperature, overloaded freezer, and power outages.
However, given the ideal condition of quick freezing. It can last indefinitely as long as the ideal condition is kept.
What are the Principles Behind Freezing and Quick Freezing?
Freezing is the phase transition of liquid into solid. Water, when frozen, forms large crystals that destroy food physical integrity. Fruits and vegetables become soggy and cream cheese may become crumbly.
Quick freezing on the other hand, because of its relatively fast action, never allows formation of large crystals. So, preserving cheese physical form.
Your Defrosted Cream Cheese Becomes Grainy. How Can You Make it Creamy again?
Seeing your cream cheese assume a grainy texture is a bit frustrating. Worry not, because you can make grainy cream cheese creamy again.
Put it in a food processor and blend. In case you never get the texture you want, add a bit of commercial cream or whey and then blend again.
Next time, make sure to quickly freeze the cream cheese properly to avoid additional hassle.
Yet Other Ways to Freeze Cream Cheese Effectively
Go make the cheese but don’t go all the way to blending. Instead, make it as dry as possible before putting inside the fridge. Let the cheese stay inside the cheese cloth and hang it for a longer period.
Bear in mind, the less water it has, the longer it will last inside the freezer. Alternatively, proceed up to blending and add a bit of salt. Salt will bind extra water making it unavailable for microbial growth. Don’t add too much salt though.
Less water, more salt, and freezing working together will absolutely extend the cream cheese keeping life.
Turn Your Cream Cheese to Cheese Powder. It’s the Best Way to Store Cream Cheese
If you have available equipment, turn the cream cheese into cream cheese powder. A force convection oven will do the trick nicely.
Cream cheese powder never needs a cold temperature for storage. An airtight container is sufficient. In addition, you can store cream cheese powder for considerable lengths.
To use, just add enough water and blend.
After learning all about freezing and other ways to preserve cream cheese, would you go freeze all the cheese you make? I think that’s not necessary.
If you can consume the cheese you make or buy within the 10 days period. It would be better to just leave it in the chiller compartment. It would save you the time of thawing and sometimes reworking in case the cream cheese becomes grainy.
If you’re not going to use the cream cheese anytime sooner, put it inside the freezer section. It will be good for two months. Try a quick freezing technique whenever possible. Although quick freezing is a potent trick, don’t let it go beyond two months. You have no control over power fluctuations that may render your effort ineffective.
In addition to freezing, consider using other preservation tricks. Leave the cream cheese acidic and add salt.
And for the ultimate technique. Convert the cream cheese into powder form.
Read my other article on Sour cream substitutes.