The answer depends on how you’re going to use it.
The freezer is undeniably convenient. Whether taking advantage of a sudden sale, or finding a place for leftovers, it’s easy to freeze food without a second thought. But can you freeze cheese?
In order to answer this question, it’s important to know what happens to cheese in the freezer. But the decision to freeze cheese ultimately depends on how you plan to eat it.
What Happens When You Freeze Cheese?
Water expands as it freezes, and contracts when it thaws. When cheese is placed in the freezer, the moisture inside starts to form ice crystals. As this moisture expands and contracts, it breaks down the molecular structure of cheese. This process can hurt both texture and taste, causing cheese to become crumbly and lose its flavor.
When Not to Freeze Cheese
The more water content in cheese, the more susceptible it is to the damage done by ice crystals. A previously lush and decadent cheese will be transformed into a dry, unappetizing version. That means famous French soft cheeses, such as Brie and Camembert, should stay out of the freezer. Fresh cheese also has very high moisture content, and a delicate texture, making it a poor candidate for freezing.
When to Freeze Cheese
Freezing is best reserved for cheese with very little moisture. Cheeses like blocks of cheddar or mozzarella can be safely kept in the freezer. These low-moisture cheeses are less susceptible to temperature changes. Just be sure to use them within a few months before the quality deteriorates.
A Simple Guideline
So, can you freeze cheese? Cheeses that will be used as ingredients are the best candidates for the freezer. If a cheese is going to end up shredded, grated, or cooked as part of a dish, it can be frozen without much change to the final result. Cheese that is meant to be enjoyed on its own should be kept fresh.
Don’t hesitate to freeze a brick of cheese in the freezer for future nachos or casseroles. But keep the star of your cheese platter, fresh salad, or baked Brie out of the freezer, and in the fridge where it belongs.