Cheese exists at the center of some of the most delicious homemade dishes - pizzas, casseroles, cheesecakes, and the ultimate comfort food, macaroni and cheese. However, if you are someone who likes to stock up on cheese during grocery sales or can resist getting (perhaps way) too many varieties of cheese to have options, you might have wondered before if cheese can be frozen and preserved for longer than its expiration date. Thankfully, according to Katie Heil, CP-FS, a certified professional in food safety at StateFoodSafety, the answer is yes, you can freeze those delicious wedges. The question is should you?
"Although cheese usually keeps best in the refrigerator, you can freeze it if you choose," says Heil. "Storing cheese at 0 °F or lower will prevent microbial growth and keep it safe for up to six months. However, freezing can affect the quality of the cheese." Not all cheeses will freeze the same, as it all depends on how much moisture each cheese holds. "When you freeze food, you're really freezing the moisture within the food," says Heil. "As the water in food freezes, it expands and the ice crystals rupture the food's cell walls. That's why food gets softer after being frozen and thawed."
Hard cheeses, like Swiss and cheddar, should freeze well, but may be more crumbly upon thawing. Some soft cheeses, such as Brie, also tend to freeze well and maintain their quality. However, the softest cheeses, such as cream cheese, cottage cheese, and ricotta cheese, are a different story. "They contain so much moisture, they might look more like mush than cheese after thawing," says Heil adding that if you do decide to freeze cheese, you should do so in a sealed, airtight containers that each make 1-pound to 1-½-servings. How exactly should you thaw it? Easy! Just transfer it over to the refrigerator until it is soft and back to as close to its pre-frozen consistency as possible.