Cotija is a dry, unripened cheese that is often used on top of classics such as enchiladas. But as any cheese, it can be notoriously hard to store correctly in a safe environment. Cotija cheese is not exempt to this, and to store it for longer periods of time, you may have to freeze it so that it has a longer shelf life.
Yes, you can freeze cotija cheese, and it will add to its longevity if done correctly.
How do I Freeze Cotija Cheese?
Freezing cotija cheese has a lot of benefits, and if done correctly, preserves the taste, texture, and makes the cheese’s shelf life much more sustainable.
The first thing that you want to do before you freeze cotija cheese it to secure a moisture proof container to store it in. This is super important to the shelf life and the texture of the cheese, as any moisture in the container will make the cheese mushy and unappealing.
Good moisture proof containers will also be airtight, it may be worth it to splurge on a storage container if you want to significantly increase the shelf life of any of the perishables that you do have, such as bread, cheese, and fruits.
After you get your moisture proof container, make sure it is completely dry before you place your cotija cheese in it. This is important because it will have the opposite affect if it’s into entirely dry on the inside, causing massive bacteria growth and mold on the cheese. This is not a savable mistake, and the cheese will be inedible with the presence of moisture in the container.
The next thing that you can do is place quite a bit of cotija cheese into one container. Cotija cheese is very crumbly and storing a lot at one time doesn’t provide any disadvantage. If anything, it’ll keep the shelf life of your cheese at about 6 months rather than 2 weeks.
When you’re freezing cotija, its important that you don’t refreeze anything that has been thawed. It will severely affect the taste and texture of the cheese, as well as expose you to salmonella.
You also should not follow the same paper towel method that some homegrown websites suggest. Placing a paper towel with water on it might be good at keeping bread soft, but it will cause mold to grow on the cotija.
How Does Freezing Affect Cotija Cheese?
Like freezing any cheese, it can dry out the product. Luckily, cotija is already a very dry and crumbly cheese, meaning that the cheese won’t be significantly affected by freezing. Allowing it to thaw a bit in the fridge before placing it undoes any bad effects that it has and doesn’t affect the flavor at all.
It is better to freeze your cotija cheese if you have to buy it in bulk, as it is more sustainable for you wallet and for the cheeses shelf life.
How Does Freezing a Block of Cotija Cheese Affect the Flavor?
Freezing a block is different than freezing separated cotija. This is because the block will dry out immensely more than the separated products.
How Should I Thaw Cotija?
The best way to thaw cotija is to thaw it in the fridge overnight. Allowing it to thaw at room temperature will put too much moisture on the cheese and will affect the already pungent flavor.