Dairy and egg products collectively only make-up about 7% of household food waste in Canada. However, due to the high impact of livestock farming, that seemingly small category of waste has a much larger impact than many of us realize. So, while tossing a bit of leftover cheese may seem inconsequential, if we’re all doing it, the consequences could be pretty big. Add in the rising cost of food (especially foods like meat and dairy products) and the problem gets even bigger.
Whether you have leftover cheese, or there’s a big sale you want to take advantage of, freezing cheese is actually a viable option for giving it a longer life!
Cheese is best if frozen for no more than 6 months. It’ll still be safe after that time, but the flavour and texture can really start to go downhill.
The catch is that frozen cheese is really only good for cooking as it can get quite crumbly when it thaws out. If you try to slice a thawed brick of cheddar, for example, it’ll likely just crumble apart.
However, frozen cheese melts very nicely! For that reason, the best way to freeze cheese is to either grate it or crumble it first, so that it’s ready to use in recipes.
Grated cheese can be safely thawed out in the fridge for no more than 2-3 days before you plan to use it. If you’re using it to top a casserole, pizza or anything au gratin, you can even sprinkle frozen cheese directly on top, without thawing it first.
Frozen cheese can be mixed into mashed potatoes, used as taco toppings, added to cheese bread or muffin recipes, used for grilled cheese, tuna melts or paninis, on nachos, casseroles, hearty soups, chili, or even thawed and sprinkled on salads.
Cheeses like cheddar, swiss, gouda, feta and other firm cheeses are easiest to grate or crumble and tend to work best for freezing.
The fact is, many soft cheeses don’t hold up well to freezing. If there’s a sale on brie, for example, just buy what you’ll reasonably use. Don’t rely on being able to freeze it, as the texture and possibly even taste just won’t be the same when it thaws.
That said, cream cheese actually freezes fairly well. If you put a sealed, unopened container of cream cheese in the freezer, it will thaw out quite nicely. The texture does change slightly. Like firmer cheeses, it gets a little crumbly. But, when spread on a warm, toasted bagel, you can hardly tell the difference! As goat cheese has a similar texture, it too can be frozen and still maintain a “close enough” texture.
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