Can You Freeze Cream Cheese?
The question of how possible it is to freeze cream cheese is popular considering the fact that cream cheese just like other diary products do not have a long shelf life. After some time, it will start to change its taste if left in a refrigerator for a long time.
Cream cheese is one ingredient that can be used in many dishes like pasta, soups, cakes and sauces. It works well as spread for bread or sandwich. One problem is that you cannot use a cream cheese block for a single meal so you will eventually have opened cream cheese that may not be used for anything maybe for a long time. So the question is if you can freeze the remaining cream cheese. We will answer the question but first, let us find out what cream cheese is.
WHAT IS CREAM CHEESE?
Cream cheese is made from milk and cream that has not been heated (pasteurized), it is soft and has a mild taste. Cream cheese is meant to last for short period of time, it can go bad if it is not consumed fresh. Some brands of cream cheese include Boursin, Rondele, Gournay, Philadelphia and others. Cream cheese can be used in almost all dishes including as dips for carrots, cucumber, bread sticks and other foods.
CAN YOU FREEZE CREAM CHEESE?
You can freeze cream cheese but you should know that a lot can happen if you put your cream cheese in the freezer. One of the things you will notice is that there will be change in the texture and consistency of your cream cheese. Frozen cream cheese has a grainy and crumbly texture as compared to cream cheese that has not been frozen. Unfrozen cream cheese has a smooth and dense texture. The difference in the texture is due to the water content in cream cheese.
You should know that cream cheese contains cream unlike other cheese. The cream added to cream cheese makes it to have more taste and softness when compared to other types of cheeses. As you freeze cream cheese, the water content in the cream freezes to ice blocks. These ice crystals makes the cream cheese to have a grainy and gritty texture with a crumbly consistency.
When you thaw the frozen cream cheese, the ice crystals from the cream changes back to water but one problem is that it cannot bond properly with the cheese like it was before the freezing. After freezing cream cheese, it is no longer suitable to be used as spread. However, you can use it in baked foods, sauces and desserts.
CAN YOU FREEZE CREAM CHEESE AFTER OPENING?
You can freeze cream cheese after opening it as a means of storage. But you cannot use it again as spread. So, if you want to use cream cheese as spread for bagels, crackers or other food, you will have to keep it in the refrigerator instead. If kept in refrigerator, cream cheese can last for a week or two.
So, if you want to use your cream cheese as spread for a week or two, you can store in a refrigerator. If you have no plan of using cream cheese within two weeks and will no longer use it as spread for bread and other food items, then you are free to open your cream cheese and freeze it afterwards.
HOW DO YOU STORE CREAM CHEESE IN THE FREEZER?
We have established the fact that you can freeze cream cheese including open ones in order to extend their shelf life, you should know that there is a way of storing cream cheese depending if you have opened it or not. If you put opened cream cheese directly into the freezer, there may be freezer burn. This is because it has already been exposed to air and there will be freezer burn, this is applicable to all food products.
Here are the steps on how to store cream cheese properly in a freezer:
- Remove the opened cream cheese from the foil to a food saver bag or sealable container.
- If you are using a sealable container, wrap the container for added protection.
- It is best you label the container with the date the cream cheese is going into the freezer. This will help you to know how long it will stay in the freezer.
For unopened cream cheese, you are free to store it in the freezer in its package without any wrap. The original foil and package is enough coverage to prevent the cream cheese from having freezer burn. You can also put the unopened cream cheese in a nylon bag or freezer bag for more protection.
HOW LONG CAN YOU FREEZE CREAM CHEESE?
You can store opened or unopened cream cheese in a freezer for up to 2 months. You should know that the cream cheese in plastic containers is not good or recommended for freezing. You can store them in a refrigerator for two weeks and up to a month if it is not opened.
If you leave your cream cheese in a room temperature for more than two hours, then you should dispose it as it is no longer good for consumption. If your cream cheese has a change in color, taste or odor, then you should not freeze but dispose immediately. Storing it will only cause more bacteria and germs to grow thereby increasing the risk of having food poison.
HOW DO YOU THAW OR DEFROST FROZEN CREAM CHEESE?
You can defrost thaw cream cheese by removing it from the freezer and put in the refrigerator. You should allow the frozen cream cheese to stay for 24 hours or till it has defrosted completely.
If you do not have freezer or do not have the time to defrost in a refrigerator, you can use cold water. You have to put your cream cheese in a waterproof nylon or if it is unopen, then the nylon is already leak-proof. Fill a bowl with water and place the frozen cream cheese in the bowl. Change the water every 30 minutes, do not use warm water as it may cause bacteria to grow. Continue this process till your cream cheese is completely defrosted. Remember to flip the cream cheese from side to side as you change the water.
HOW DO YOU MAKE FROZEN CREAM CHEESE CREAMY AGAIN?
After freezing cream cheese, it will become grainy and crumbly instead of smooth and creamy. So, it will no longer be suitable to be used as spread. However, you can revive your cream cheese to a smooth and creamy texture to be used as spread or other things.
Here are some methods you can use to make your cream cheese smooth and creamy again:
This is a very simple method, you just need to thaw your frozen cream cheese first. You can thaw it by placing the frozen cream cheese in a refrigerator overnight to defrost it. Use a whisk to mix the cream cheese together, this will help to improve the consistency.
2. The Microwave Method
This requires lots of efforts but it is an effective method. It can restore your frozen cream cheese close to its original smooth texture and consistency. The first step is to defrost the frozen cream cheese by keeping it in a refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove it from the container and put in another container that can be used in a microwave.
Microwave the cream cheese for 10 seconds. It is important to remove the cream cheese foil as it may catch fire in the microwave. Stir the cream cheese and collect the contents around the bowl. The more you stir, them more you notice improvements in the consistency. Continue stirring till you get the desired consistency.
3. The Stove Method
This is another alternative for people who do not have microwave or do not like the idea of using microwave. The stove method will give you more control over the heat and cream cheese as well. The first step is to fill a medium sized sauce with water and place on the stove. Drop a smaller bowl on top of the sauce pan.
You have to be sure that the smaller bowl does not get to the bottom of the pan or water. This is a way of preventing the cream cheese from having direct heat. Place the already thawed cream cheese into the smaller bowl and stir the cheese till you have achieved your desired consistency and smoothness.
IS CREAM CHEESE STILL GOOD AFTER BEING FROZEN?
Freezing cream cheese does not spoil it, it is still good and can be used after being frozen. The only thing is that the texture and consistency will change. However, you can restore your frozen cream cheese to its original texture and consistency by using some methods we already explained. If your cream cheese changes to another color like yellow or black, have a bad smell and flavor or have mold on it, you should throw it away immediately.
HOW TO SOFTEN CREAM CHEESE?
Sometimes, after thawing frozen cream cheese, you will notice it has become hard and lumpy so you will need to make it soft again before using in recipes. To soften cream cheese, you should allow it to stay on the counter for 15 minutes. This will help the cream cheese to adjust to the room temperature.
You can soften cream cheese using microwave. Just place in a bowl or plate suitable for microwave. Set the microwave to a high temperature and allow the cheese to stay in for about 15 to 20 seconds. You can use your fingers to test if the cream cheese is soft enough for use.
You can freeze cream cheese to extend its shelf life. But you should know that it will no longer have same texture and consistency, it will have a grainy and gritty texture. However, you can improve the grainy and gritty texture to smooth and creamy texture. If stored very well, cream cheese can stay in the freezer for up to a month.