In this brief guide, we’ll address the query: “Can you freeze aged cheese?” Also, we’ll explore how aged cheese can be frozen, what an aged cheese is, and describe popular aged cheeses.
Can you freeze aged cheese?
Yes, it’s possible to freeze aged cheeses, particularly, hard cheeses with low-water content, and slightly softer cheeses that will be used in cooking.
Freezing cheeses intended to be eaten fresh is contraindicated, as they will lose moisture, and their texture may turn grainy, making them less palatable. These cheeses are best stored in refrigeration.
However, as aging is a process that relies on microbial and enzymatic activity to occur over time, freezing will halt the aging process. Ergo, freezing may not be in the best interest of users looking to further strengthen the smell and organoleptic qualities of cheese.
However, if a consumer is satisfied with a cheese’s current state, and wishes to preserve it as-is, freezing is a handy storage method.
Below, we’ll discuss how users can freeze aged cheese.
How can I freeze aged cheese?
Aged cheese can be frozen by covering the block (or wheel) in plastic cling wrap, and then inside of a freeze-resistant container.
If a quality freezer bag is large enough to hold a block of cheese, it can also be utilized in place of a container.
The aged cheese, once wrapped and encased in an additional container/wrapping, can then be stored at subzero temperatures, where it can be preserved for up to nine months, with its original quality.
Defrosting a frozen cheese can be done by thawing it overnight in refrigeration, or if the required portion is small, by cutting it off the block with a knife and then using it in a recipe.
What is aged cheese?
Aged cheese alludes to cheeses that once made, are left for an extended period to ripen.
Of course, this ripening occurs over a long period due to the presence of microbes such as bacteria, fungi, and even mites. In fact, it is the combinations of microorganisms (along with the ingredients), that provide each type of cheese with its signature taste, smell, and qualities.
Naturally, aged cheese loses moisture as time goes on, and these types tend to have a tougher, harder consistency than fresh cheeses.
Aging also sets the stage for biochemical processes such as the breakdown of proteins into amino acids, and the conversion of lactose (a disaccharide made of two sugars, present in milk) into lactic acid.
These processes, along with the microbes inoculated onto the product, provide signature characteristics to different types of cheeses.
Aged cheeses are graded and certified based on the aging period that has transpired, with older cheeses being more valuable than younger ones, on account of being subject to more biochemical and microbial activity.
Their counterpart, fresh cheeses, are those that are best consumed fresh and have a higher moisture content. These are also ideal for grilling and melting, and are not recommended for freezing.
What are some popular aged cheeses?
A few of the most common aged cheeses include:
- Cheddar – a cheese of British heritage. It takes its name from the village of Cheddar on the Somer, a settlement in Southwest England. It has a distinctive yellow coloring conferred to it by achiote tree seeds and can be considered an aged cheese from six months up, though higher grades exist.
- Gruyere – a Swiss cheese that originally is soft, tastes creamy, and sweet. As it ripens, it loses moisture, hardens, and acquires a more pronounced “nutty” flavor. This cheese is ideal for melting and can be used in fonduing, dips, and cooking.
- Gouda – A Dutch cheese that is renowned for its salty flavor, and that can be served as a table cheese, an appetizer, a dessert (when paired with sweet spreads), or used in cooking.
- Camembert- a French cheese that specifically hails from Normandy, Camembert is unique amongst aged cheeses in the sense that as it ages, the microbial cultures soft-ripens, instead of hardening. Fresh cheeses are more solid, and aged Camembert is best enjoyed with warm, freshly baked bread and cold meats.
- Blue cheese – despite its name, blue cheese is mostly ivory-colored and has blue-green bits, which are due to the penicillium cultures used to mature it. It is a very strong-flavored cheese and is best enjoyed with strongly flavored beverages such as wine, and coffee, and can also be served alongside meat dishes such as fish, poultry, and even beef.
- Mozzarella – while this cheese is often used fresh, and has the distinction of being made from water buffalo milk, mozzarella that is aged may have a yellowish color, a stronger taste and tends to be softer. Mozzarella cheese can be enjoyed grated and cool, or it can be cooked and is popular in gratin and pastries.
As a general rule, some cheeses, especially those with high-lactose contents, may be contraindicated for those with lactose intolerance. Some cheeses may have a high content of sodium and are therefore not indicated for consumption by those diagnosed with heart disease or circulatory problems.
Also, artisanal cheeses should be consumed cautiously, as not all cheeses are made with pasteurized milk, and as a result, may transmit microbes such as listeria, brucellosis, clostridium, and other disease-causing bacteria.
Vulnerable groups such as young children, pregnant women and the elderly should only consume cheese that has been certified and deemed safe by the corresponding inspection agencies.
Other FAQs about Cheese that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we’ve addressed the query: “Can you freeze aged cheese?” Also, we’ve explored how aged cheese can be frozen, what an aged cheese is, and described a few popular aged cheeses.