Cheese freezes pretty well, with only a mild loss of texture. However, when it is time to thaw, you might run into issues. The best way to use frozen cheese is by cooking with it, such as baking brie, or throwing a block of swiss into a soup. However, if you aren’t cooking with it, the best option is thawing it in a fridge, which can take upwards of two days. So what if you don’t have that kind of time?
The fastest way to thaw cheese is to use a microwave and to cook it in 30-second intervals on the lowest setting. This can lead to accidentally cooking the cheese or a bad texture, so make sure you watch it carefully.
Keep reading to find out more about thawing and freezing cheeses.
Ways to Thaw Cheese
- In the Fridge
When freezing cheese, it is best to leave it in the package to maintain moisture. If you did store it in the freezer in a different container, it is best to leave it in the container to avoid any excess moisture loss.
- Take the cheese out of the freezer.
- Place on a plate to catch any excess moisture
- Leave in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours, depending on the size of the cheese block
- On the Counter
- Take the cheese out of the freezer
- Place on a plate or tray to catch any excess moisture
- Keep out of sun or away from any direct heat
- Leave your cheese on the counter for roughly three hours to thaw
- In the Microwave
- Take your cheese out of the freezer
- Unwrap cheese and place on a microwave-safe container or plate
- On the lowest setting, microwave your cheese in 30-second intervals
- Keep cooking in intervals until the cheese is soft enough to cut through easily.
- In the Oven or Stove.
Another way to use frozen cheese is in recipes. This can include baking them, such as with brie, throwing them into soups, or stirring into mac and cheese. This can be done even straight from frozen as the cheese will have time to thaw and melt during the cooking process.
The Fastest Way to Thaw Cheese
Out of the four options above, microwaving the cheese is the fastest. It should only take 3 to 4 minutes to fully thaw your cheese once placed in the microwave.
There are some issues with heating your cheese in the microwave. If you cook it for too long, it may begin to melt, losing some of its texture. If you heat it too fast, you may begin to lose oils from your cheese, making it crumbly and dry on the inside and wet and oily on the outside.
Microwaving can be a useful and quick way to thaw your cheese, however, you must watch it carefully to make sure it is not overheated or heated too fast.
Best Way to Thaw Cheese
The best way to thaw cheese depends on your desire. If you are planning to use it in a recipe, then just thawing it during the cooking process is best. It takes no extra time and you don’t have to worry about losing texture or taste. There will also be no risk of bacteria growth or the cheese going bad.
If you are wanting to eat it just as a block, such as with crackers or on a sandwich, it is best to thaw it in the fridge. This takes the longest but allows it to retain most of its moisture and texture.
Does Freezing Cheese Change the Taste or Texture?
Yes, freezing a cheese will change the texture. The taste will be the same, though the cheese may be dry and not impart as much flavor. If you are going to freeze cheese, it is best to use the cheese you are going to use for cooking, as the texture change doesn’t matter once it is melted.
Fresh mozzarella tends to not be as soft and chewy as the high moisture content can create ice crystals that break apart the structure. Regular mozzarella tends to crumble a bit more than it would traditionally.
Wet cheeses such as cottage cheese and ricotta both tend to turn granier.
Cheeses that you use for sandwiches or eat in cubes like cheddar, jack, and swiss tend to grow crumbly to the point they just fall apart.
This doesn’t mean any of the cheeses are bad. They do taste the same, it is just whether the food is messier or not with the extra crumbling.
I freeze cheddar blocks quite often. My only complaint is that instead of beautiful long slices for sandwiches, I get a bunch of crumbles that are messy. But I don’t notice any taste difference.
Harder cheeses tend to lose the least texture, as they don’t have as much water to be affected, such as parmesan.
How Long Does Cheese Last in the Freezer?
For the best quality, cheese lasts about 6 to 9 months in the freezer before the texture starts to change dramatically and your cheese dries out much more. Food in a freezer will last forever, but after the 9-month mark, the texture and taste might be affected enough that it may not be very edible.
How Long Does Cheese Last in the Fridge?
This changes depending on the cheese. However, 1 to 3 months is a good range. Fresher cheeses like fresh mozzarella or young cheese tend to go bad faster and dry, aged cheese or those with a high salt content like parmesan or feta tend to last the longest as mold struggles to grow in this situation.
Generally, mold and dryness are the signs of your cheese going bad. They may also have a yeast smell. So if your cheese has changed texture, has strange colors on it, or smells wrong, it is probably time to throw it out.
Cheese can be frozen with only a mild loss of texture for about 6 to 9 months. The quickest way to thaw your cheese is in the microwave on a low setting in 30-second intervals. However, the quickest and the best way are not the same and you may lose out on texture and taste doing it this way. If you do have more time, then throwing your cheese into a recipe or thawing in the fridge is the best option.