Buy eat, eat it, freeze the leftovers.
Photo courtesy iGourmet.com.
Common belief is that you shouldn’t freeze cheese. Freezing can change the texture, making many cheeses grainy or crumbly. That’s because of the water content of cheese. It turns to ice and breaks apart the curds.
But you definitely can freeze cheese. If the choice is spoilage versus freezing, there’s no contest.
Whether or not the cheese has its original wrapper, wrap it tightly in several layers of plastic wrap and then in a freezer storage bag with the air removed. If the cheese has been sliced, separate the slices with wax paper.
It’s best to use frozen cheese within three months (six months for semi-hard and hard cheeses), so label the bag with the type of cheese and a “Use By” date.
Fresh, soft cheeses—cream cheese, goat cheese and mascarpone, for example—may experience some separation when defrosted. Simply stir any liquid back into the cheese. High-water-content cheeses, such as cottage cheese and ricotta, don’t freeze well because of too much crystallization.
Soft-ripened cheeses such as Brie and Camembert can be frozen: We’ve been doing it for decades. Recently, Maxx Sherman of The Marin French Cheese Factory—who had never frozen his own cheeses—tried it and wrote that the defrosted cheeses “were all as perfect as the day that I froze them.” So go ahead: Save money and buy that huge wheel of Brie at Costco. (See the difference between Brie and Camembert.)
Shredded cheeses. You can also freeze pre-shredded “pizza cheese.” Given how expensive the supermarket bags are, we bought a bulk bag at Costco to experiment and were pleased with the results.
Semi-soft cheeses, like Monterey Jack, Munster, Havarti and Gorgonzola, tend to become crumbly after defrosting. They may not go back onto the cheese board; but are delicious in soups, salads, omelets, grilled cheese sandwiches and other recipes
Hard, aged cheeses—Asiago, Cheddar, Colby, Emmenthaler, Gruyère, Manchego and Parmesan, for example—fare the best when defrosted. And you can grate the cheeses while they’re still frozen. We keep a wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano in the freezer and grate what we need, returning the wedge to the freezer.
Thaw frozen cheese in the refrigerator for 24 hours. If you don’t like the texture, use it in cooking (grilled cheese, omelets, salads, crumbled toppings) or baking (muffins, cheese bread, casseroles), where it won’t make a difference.