Cheese is best enjoyed fresh to maximize its flavor and texture, but sometimes it is not possible to consume it within the expiration date and we wonder if we can freeze it for later consumption, as we do with other foods. Since freezing is an effective way to increase the shelf life of foods, reduce waste and save money.
Although there is debate about whether to freeze cheese, technically any cheese can be frozen, but some varieties respond better than others to freezing and the process affects the texture and quality of the cheese, in many cases.
When cheese is frozen, small ice crystals form inside, which alter the internal structure of the cheese. When thawed, water is released, causing the product to dry out, crumble, and change its texture. Additionally, freezing inactivates cheese microbes, such as bacteria, yeast, and mold, which can prevent these cheeses from ripening properly when thawed, decreasing their sensory quality.
The best cheeses to freeze
As a general rule of thumb, it is best to freeze cheeses that are designed to be used in cooked dishes rather than eating them fresh. The hard and semi-hard cheeses like cheddar, swiss gouda, gruyere, emmental, edam, etc., they can be frozen, but their texture often becomes mealy and afterwards they will be more difficult to cut. The semi-cured are those that best withstand freezing, in addition to holding up well in terms of aroma and flavor. Semi-cured Manchego cheese falls into this category. Pizza cheese is also suitable for freezing, particularly grated pizza cheese. Still, its texture and properties can be affected.
The worst cheeses to freeze
Shredded hard cheeses like Parmesan and Romano can be frozen, but it makes more sense to store them in the refrigerator, where they will keep for up to 12 months.
In general, artisan cheeses with delicate flavors and aromas they do not freeze well and it is better to buy them in smaller portions and eat them fresh. It is also not recommended to freeze the fresh cheeses like cottage cheese, ricotta, and quark due to their high moisture content.
Similarly, cheeses soft and ripe, like brie, camembert, fontina… they are best eaten fresh and can be matured in the refrigerator. As for processed cheeses and spreadable cheeses, they are not suitable for freezing as they would lose their texture.