Can you freeze parmesan cheese? (3+ benefits)
In this article, we will answer the question “Can you freeze parmesan cheese?” and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of freezing parmesan cheese, the shelf life of parmesan cheese in different conditions and what happens when parmesan cheese is stored frozen.
Can you freeze parmesan cheese?
Yes, you can freeze parmesan cheese. Freezing is one of the most common methods used to extend the shelf life of foods. Both block and grated forms of parmesan can be frozen, although grated parmesan may have a shorter shelf life.
Although it is not possible to store parmesan cheese in the freezer for an undetermined time, freezing parmesan can improve its shelf life to several months (1).
What are the benefits and drawbacks of freezing parmesan?
The most relevant benefit of freezing parmesan cheese is the extension of its shelf life. The effects of freezing in parmesan cheese are (2,3,4):
- Freezing reduces the rates of chemical and enzymatic reactions which cause cheese oxidation
- Freezing can preserve parmesan cheese while maintaining its nutritional properties
- Freezing parmesan can reduce the rate of the ripening process. Parmesan is ripened for 12 to 36 months and after this time the quality is no longer considered optimal
- Freezing changes the flavour and aroma of cheese minimally
The most relevant drawbacks of eating parmesan cheese are (2,3,4):
- Deformation of the cheese structure due to the freeze-thaw process, which causes damage to the proteins
- Results in the loss of texture of the cheese due to the ice crystal growth, especially when frozen storage is kept at higher temperatures or when the freezing rate is low
- Freezing may affect the melting properties of the cheese
What is the shelf life of parmesan?
The shelf life of parmesan in block form is quite a shelf-stable. If unopened, Parmigiano Reggiano should last 6 months. Grated parmesan cheese packed in vacuum or modified atmosphere packaging conditions has a shelf life of about 3 months (2).
Opened package of block parmesan can last about 4 weeks in the fridge, while the recommended storage for frozen parmesan is 6 months (1).
The shelf life of a package of grated parmesan is difficult to determine. Grated or shredded parmesan has been exposed to handling, cutting surfaces and other hazards, which increase the possibility of microbial contamination.
The shelf life of parmesan cheese depends greatly on the packaging material, as the exposure of the cheese to oxygen and light are the two major factors affecting parmesan cheese deterioration (2,3).
How to freeze parmesan properly?
Freezing a parmesan block
Follow the steps given below to freeze the parmesan block (5):
- First of all, reduce the size of the cheese block by cutting it into desired smaller chunks.
- Place these chunks in a resealable plastic bag.
- Squeeze as much air as you can from the plastic bag and secure it by sealing the bag.
- Put the plastic bag into the freezer and use these chunks in your dishes for as long as 6 months.
What happens when cheese is stored frozen?
When cheese is stored frozen, many chemical and physical phenomena can happen, resulting in changes in the sensory properties of the cheese. In addition, ice crystals formed by freezing can damage bacterial cells.
According to studies, it is possible to reduce the microbial contamination of frozen storage at temperatures -15°C (5°F) (2). In addition, parasites, when present, are also affected by freezing. This results in an increase in the safety of the product after frozen storage.
On the other hand, freeze-thaw processes can lead to organoleptic losses, damage to the texture and loss of properties such as melting and crumbling (2,3).
During frozen storage, chemical and enzymatic reactions are slowed, but not stopped, resulting in a reduced rate of maturation of the cheese, reduced rate of lipolysis (lipid hydrolysis with generation of free fatty acids) and proteolysis (hydrolysis of the proteins with generation of amino acids).
This can be positive to increase the shelf life of parmesan cheese and regulate the cheese market.
Other FAQs about Parmesan which you may be interested in.
In this article, we answered the question “Can you freeze parmesan cheese?” and discussed the benefits and drawbacks of freezing parmesan cheese, the shelf life of frozen parmesan and what happens when parmesan cheese is stored frozen.
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Usda.gov. [cited 2023 Aug 15]. Available from: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/shared/data/EN/FoodKeeper-Data.xls
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Nájera AI, Nieto S, Barron LJR, Albisu M. A Review of the Preservation of Hard and Semi-Hard Cheeses: Quality and Safety. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health [Internet] 2021;18(18):9789
Kasprzak K, Wendorff WL, Chen CM. Freezing qualities of Cheddar-type cheeses containing varied percentages of fat, moisture, and salt. Journal of dairy science. 1994 Jul 1;77(7):1771-82.
National center for home food preservation [Internet]. Uga.edu. [cited 2023 Aug 16]. Available from: https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/cheese.html