Can you freeze cream cheese for longer shelf life? The answer is, yes. And we’re here to help you learn how to do it properly and all about the pros and cons of freezing your cream cheese!
Cream cheese is a common baking and cooking essential that gives your dish that extra sweet and tangy flavor to it. It’s usually added into dips, frosting, cakes, pastas, and casserole dishes. As it’s a versatile ingredient usually used in bulks, it’s important to know how to properly store it. And just like how butter can be frozen for later use, you can also extend cream cheese’s shelf life by freezing it!
But how long, exactly, does cream cheese last inside the freezer? If you’re wondering, it can last one to two months. However, this depends on how you properly seal and wrap your cream cheese. Aside from that, freezing cream cheese can also cause changes to its texture. Don’t worry though because we have some tips to make it soft and creamy again. Read on to find out all the best tips about freezing cream cheese now!
Pros and Cons of Freezing Cream Cheese
So now you know, you absolutely can freeze cream cheese, but does cream cheese freeze well? Yes, it does. However, you’ll notice slight changes to its texture and flavor. We’ve listed down below the pros and cons of freezing cream cheese so you’ll know what happens.
- Longer shelf life
- Convenient and cost-effective
Like any dairy product, freezing cream cheese would make it last longer. Cream cheese can easily go bad or expire when left out on the counter, so freezing it is an effective solution. However, preserving it really depends on how you properly store your cream cheese. There are steps to follow in terms of storing, wrapping, and sealing, which we will discuss later on.
Furthermore, freezing cream cheese is also convenient and cost-effective. It’s better to buy cream cheese in bulk especially when it’s on sale. You can use cream cheese in a variety of recipes like cakes and casseroles.
- Change in texture
- Requires a long defrosting process
Frozen cream cheese will have a slightly crumbly and grainy texture. The gritty texture happens because of the high water content that’s present in cream cheese. When making cream cheese, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) actually requires that cream cheese should not exceed the recommended amount of 33% milk fat and 55% moisture content.
That’s why when you freeze cream cheese, the water or moisture freezes and separates with the milk fat which makes it difficult to emulsify again. You have to defrost your cream cheese for a few hours or overnight before using it. As a result, your thawed cream cheese has that grainy, gritty, and crumbly appearance.
Frozen cream cheese is also less creamy, but you can use it in baked dishes where it can easily melt. It’s best to use it in dishes whereby the gritty texture won’t be as noticeable. For instance, use frozen cream cheese for dips, frosting, icing, and spreads. These recipes require you to freeze cream cheese so that it’s not runny and a bit thicker.
How to Freeze Cream Cheese
Remember that freezing cream cheese requires proper sealing, wrapping, and storing. Keep in mind the difference between freezing a sealed and opened cream cheese. There are some materials that you might need to buy to effectively store your cream cheese in the freezer.
Freezing Unopened Cream Cheese
If you bought it in bulk, you can easily place it inside the freezer. Unopened cream cheese blocks are wrapped in foil and/or cardboard wrapping, which keeps them protected from any outside contaminants. Furthermore, it prevents freezer burns which occur when the product is exposed to air.
Freezing Opened Cream Cheese
To avoid freezer burn, opened cream cheese blocks or pieces need to be wrapped in plastic or foil, and then placed inside airtight containers. Make sure that it’s wrapped properly and securely inside the bag to prevent air and moisture.
Tips for Freezing Cream Cheese
- Use foil and paper for sealing and wrapping your cream cheese. This technique helps in freezing cream cheese better than the plastic wrap ones.
- Double wrap/seal the cream cheese for better protection especially when you’re transferring it to another container.
- The quick freeze or fast freeze option helps in freezing the cream cheese sooner to lessen the ice crystals that will form. This is an option available in some refrigerators. It freezes the cream cheese faster and makes it less grainy and crumbly as a result.
How to Thaw Frozen Cream Cheese
After freezing your cream cheese, the next question is how to soften cream cheese so that it’s easier and smoother to combine it when baking or cooking.
- Remove from the freezer, and transfer to another container.
- Let it sit at room temperature for a few hours. You can also defrost overnight inside the refrigerator.
- If you’re in a rush, you can put it inside a ziplock bag and place it in a bowl of warm water. Let it thaw for about 30 minutes.
How to Make Frozen Cream Cheese Creamy Again
Now that you have your thawed cream cheese, it’s easy to make it creamy again. It won’t be as creamy as fresh cream cheese, but the consistency will be greatly improved. First, use a spoon or a whisk to mix, then use either of the two methods below:
It’s the easiest way to make frozen cream cheese creamy, soft, and less grainy. However, remember not to overheat or overcook it in the microwave.
- Transfer the cream cheese to a microwave-safe container.
- Soften cream cheese in the microwave for about 10 seconds.
- Stir it well and put it back in the microwave for another 10 seconds.
- Repeat this process until it reaches the desired smooth consistency while making sure not to overheat the cream cheese.
If you don’t like microwave heating, then you can use the stovetop method or the double-boiler to control the heat more evenly.
- Get a saucepan and fill it with water. Place on top of the stove and wait for it to boil.
- Place a heat-resistant bowl on top of the saucepan. Then, put the thawed cream cheese block inside the bowl.
- Stir with a whisk or spoon until it’s creamy or reaches the desired consistency.
How to Use Frozen Cream Cheese
So, what to do with cream cheese? Your frozen cream cheese can be used in recipes where the change in texture won’t be as obvious.
For main dishes, use your frozen cream cheese in casseroles and curry recipes. You can try making a serving of baked cream cheese french toast casserole where the blended cream cheese will still be creamy and delicious. Furthermore, cream cheese are also good substitutes for yoghurt so you can make chicken tikka masala, a tomato-based curry dish with flavorful Indian spices.
If you’re making a dessert dish that’s more suitable for big family or friend gatherings, then why not indulge in some almond cream cheese pound cake? In this kind of recipe, the grainy texture of the cream cheese won’t be as prominent. It will easily blend well with the delectable dessert.
Cream cheese is a delicious ingredient that shouldn’t go to waste. Freezing might affect the texture, so you shouldn’t be using it as a spread or a rare cheesecake, but it still can be used in a wide range of recipes for both baking and cooking. So feel free to go ahead and freeze your cream cheese to keep for your future baking or cooking projects!