Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cooking Questions: Can Cheese Be Frozen?

After our wedding, I had a bunch of food left over. I hate waste. My most hated job would have to be a garbage man, not because of the grossness and stink, but because I would be horrified by the amount of waste we produce. Don't get me started. As absolutely exhausted as I was after our wedding, the last thing I felt like doing was using up the 5-10 lbs of sliced cheese I had stacked in my fridge. Since it was already in zip lock bags, I just threw all of them into the freezer and went to bed. This begs the question: Can cheese be frozen?



There's a lot of debate about freezing cheese. Some say hard cheeses freeze better, some say you should only freeze soft cheese. It seems everyone has a slightly different take on the issue. In a good article from the TheNest.com, author, Nest Colleen, describes what happens to cheese as it freezes:
"Because of the moisture content or vein-y, open texture of most cheeses, ice crystals develop inside as cheese freezes. (Hey, that rhymes!) The ice “breaks” the curds in the cheese apart, which alters the texture of the cheese from creamy and smooth to crumbly or grainy when it thaws."
This change in texture is only apparent when you eat the cheese raw. However, once its cooked , the texture of the melted cheese is relatively indistinguishable from fresh cheese. So the answer is, yes, most cheeses can be frozen, but only if you plan to use it in a heated dish like a casserole or enchiladas.

Colleens final stance urges us never to freeze fancy cheese and although it is possible to freeze cheese of a lesser quality it shouldn't be taken on as one would freeze bulk bread or meat because unlike these examples, the quality of the defrosted cheese is so much less then the quality of the original. While I sort of agree with her, I have to take a different take on this matter.

In terms of buying in bulk, if you see a great sale on the pre-shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheeses which you would probably melt on pizza or nachos anyways, I say GO FOR IT! Buy a bunch and freeze it. In my experience once melting frozen cheese, it tastes great and I've never had any complaints.

Sometimes, like in my case after my wedding, you may find yourself with a lot of cheese you don't have time to deal with, I think it's way better to throw cheese in the freezer then throw it in the trash. I think Colleen would agree here since my cheese was basic provolone and swiss.

I think, however, this holds true for fancy cheeses too. I totally agree they should be enjoyed in their best possible quality and should never be purchased with the intent on freezing. But when dealing with left overs, waste not, want not. Even in the worst case scenario, if the cheese is totally destroyed in the freezing, at least then you have that knowledge from experience and you haven't lost anything since it would have probably been tossed anyway.

Because there's so much back and forth between which cheeses freeze well and which don't, my opinion is everyone should try things out for themselves and learn by trial and error what works and what doesn't. Don't be afraid to try something just because random voices on the internet which present themselves as "experts" tell you not to.

Once melted, I defy anyone to tell the difference between Kraft cheese which was fresh or frozen. Its not that high quality to begin with. If they can, send them packing to go hang out with that stupid pretentious bow-tie dude from America's Test Kitchen. You don't want to be around that type anyway!

5 comments:

IBerg said...

OOOHHH this looks like the perfect thing for my favorite childhood dish Oven Cheese Fondue! I made some not too long ago because i had a bunch of extra bread about to go bad. I was really good. I will get you a link to an outline (recipe). I has tons of cheese and fat (I know awesome right?), so I will only make it again AFTER I join that gym. I stepped mine up with some hot Italian sausage and onions. Yummmy.

Anonymous said...

Lol, on the America's Test Kitchen dig!

IBerg said...

here is an outline:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/17974/Oven-Cheese-Fondue

Anonymous said...

A good story

GK Chesterton: “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

Voila: www.tastingtoeternity.com. This book is a poetic view of 30 of the best loved French cheeses with an additional two odes to cheese. Recipes, wine pairing, three short stories and an educational section complete the book.

From a hectic life in New York City to the peace and glories of the French countryside lead me to be the co-founder of www.fromages.com. Ten years later with the words of Pierre Androuet hammering on my brain:

“Cheese is the soul of the soil. It is the purest and most romantic link between humans and the earth.”

I took pen and paper; many reams later with the midnight oil burning Tasting to Eternity was born and self published.

I believe cheese and wine lovers should be told about this publication.

Enjoy.

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