When you have extra cheddar cheese, just toss it into the fridge and it will probably be okay for a few good weeks. What if you want to save it for longer? or do you have a lot of cheddar cheese you want to save? You can freeze it!
Freezing cheddar cheese will allow it to last much longer than if it were refrigerated alone. It will keep in the freezer for up to six months and still taste great when you defrost it — however, this can lead to some texture and flavor changes. The texture will often become mealy and crumbly.
But, Should You Freeze Cheddar Cheese?
Freezing causes tiny ice crystals to form, which can damage the cheese structure and change the texture when defrosted — as the moisture is released — causing the cheese to dry out. With cheddar, this usually means it becomes crumbly once thawed, making it more difficult to use for slicing or grating.
However, the lower the moisture content of cheese, the lesser ice crystals developed and will tend to freeze better. Aged cheddar, which has had a lower moisture content of around 30-38% through aging, is more likely to do better in the freezing process than younger varieties. Unlike soft cheeses like brie or feta with over 50% moisture, cheddar is among the hard cheeses that can be frozen with the least problems. In general, it’s totally fine to freeze cheddar for 2-3 months.
The Freezing Temperature & Recovery
The freezing temperature for cheddar cheese is between -4.3° to -14.3°C ( 24°F to 6°F). The older ‘vintage’ cheddar tends to have slightly lower freezing temperatures. Also, try to freeze the cheddar as rapidly as possible, as it can prevent the formation of large ice crystals from forming, which can do more damage during thawing.
Never thaw cheese on the counter. If the frozen cheddar when subsequently stored in the fridge thaw slowly for 2 days, it can obtain a near-perfect recovery for both flavor and texture , as the study suggests.
However, keep in mind that after thawing, cheddar cheese should be used within four days and should not be re-frozen. You can use that cheddar cheese for cooked dishes in which the texture is not as important, such as in sauce or melted over a dish — even though it may not melt as nicely as before .
How to Freeze Cheddar Cheese Properly
To minimize the loss of quality, it’s best to freeze cheddar cheese in very small portions. Shred or grate the cheese first and divide it into smaller portions that you know you’ll use at once when you thaw them. You can also slice or cube the cheese and freeze it if you prefer.
When freezing cheddar cheese, the most important thing to remember is to wrap it tightly to prevent freezer burn. You should use an airtight container such as a zip-top freezer bag or vacuum-sealed package. If you’re using the original packaging, make sure to squeeze out all the air. When you are ready to use the cheese, take out as much as you need, and then reseal the bag.
For sliced cheddar, you can separate each slice using parchment or cheese paper and then place them in a bag or airtight container before freezing it. You can also keep them in the plastic wrap that comes with it. If the package is unopened, just freeze them in the original package.
For a 1-pound cheddar block, you can cut it into cubes or chunks before freezing, as this will make them easier to thaw and use later. A large block of cheese will typically take longer to thaw than slices or small cubes.
For a whole wheel or a big cut portion of cheddar, you may even consider storing it unrefrigerated but there will be some crucial steps you’ll need to take in advance, we’ve discussed more in this article.
And for the last tip, always remember to label the bag with the date so you know how long it has been in there.