How to safely freeze
There are a few ground rules...
That million dollar question: Can you freeze cheese? The short answer (spoiler alert) is yes, but there are some serious caveats.
Read on, you know you want to…
There may not be many circumstances in which freezing cheese feels necessary, but there are some — after weddings or dinner parties at which only a fraction of the supplies get eaten, when you accidentally misjudge sizes while online shopping, or if you’re going away and you get the sudden bright idea to super-chill everything perishable on the off-chance it’s still edible on your return.
Extending shelf life is the name of the game — cutting down on food waste, which is a worthy cause we can get behind.
There are a few ground rules when it comes to freezing cheese. Numero uno: the harder the cheese, the better the freeze. Semi-firm to firm blocks — your cheddar, your parmesan — as a block, slices or grated is likely to be A-OK.
This is because the water and fat content in cheese form ice crystals which can change the protein structure, making it more crumbly and tricky to slice.
As hard cheeses have less moisture, you can expect less change when frozen and unfrozen. And vice versa for soft cheese.
Two: it works better if it’s a cheese you’re going to cook, rather than serve as star of your charcuterie board. Can you freeze halloumi? Yes. But also cheeses you’re planning to use on pizza, fish pies, and in mac and cheese, as maintaining the original and intended texture is less essential.
Three: pass if it has a natural rind (Camembert, Brie and the likes) as freezing can produce unexpected — and unpleasant — flavour results.
Four: try to finish blue cheese before it requires freezing, if possible, as the cold temperatures cause damage to the mould structures that seriously impacts flavour. It’s also high in milk fats, so will lose some creaminess. Eat within two-three months of freezing if it’s unavoidable.
It’s not as simple as just throwing it into the freezer drawer — ideally you want to minimise its contact with moisture, and its potential to transfer smell and flavour, so a freezer bag, greaseproof paper wrap or vacuum bag is ideal, and remember to label and date. It can be worth chopping into smaller pieces, either grating and bagging up or slicing and dividing by greaseproof paper to avoid them sticking together. Ideally only leave 6-9 months before eating for minimal quality loss.
Leave it for 8-12 hours to defrost — overnight works well, then eat within three days. If cooking and it’s grated or sliced, you can use directly from the freezer. And don’t refreeze.
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