Have you ever been in my shoes where your cheese is close to its sell-by date and you don’t think you will use it in time?
The short and simple answer: Freeze your cheese!
According to the USDA, “Food stored constantly at 0°F will always be safe. Only the quality is affected with lengthy freezer storage. Freezing preserves food for extended periods because it prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause both food spoilage and foodborne illness.”
Does freezing affect the nutrient composition or retention of the cheese?
No, there are little to no nutrient changes that occur.
How do I freeze cheese?
Portion out the cheese in a way that you would use it or consider grating the cheese prior to freezing. To prevent freezer burn, wrap the cheese in parchment paper and then again with aluminum foil. You can vacuum-seal your portions. Keep in mind harder cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan freeze better than soft cheeses like cottage cheese, ricotta, and Brie. With softer cheeses, the curds and whey separate leaving a watery and grainy product.
How long can I keep frozen cheese in the freezer?
According to the USDA, you can safely store cheese in the freezer at 0°F for up to 6 months.
How do I thaw cheese?
Dairy products should be thawed gradually, in the refrigerator at 32–34 °F. It may take up to 24 hours depending on the size of the container you used, so plan accordingly.
Because the freezing process develops ice crystals, the cheese’s texture may be drier or more crumbly. If this occurs, use it in sauces or soups where the texture won’t be noticed. Use your defrosted cheese within 2-3 days.
What are some benefits of freezing cheese?
- Free up refrigerator space.
- Save money by buying cheese in larger sizes.
- Wasting less by freezing before the sell-by date (instead of throwing it away).
- Getting the most out of your dollars spent; when you throw food away you throw money away.
Other helpful tips:
- If you’d like to learn more about the sell-by dates, visit the USDA’s website for more information.
- Label your container with the date you’re freezing it and how many days until expiration. This way you know when thawing it how many days you have to eat or use it.
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