Parmesan is one of my all time favorite cheeses. Perfect for grating over a fresh bowl of pasta or sprinkling on to a salad, its rare that I don’t have a chunk of parmesan in the fridge. Its versatility is only helped by a long shelf-life, but can you freeze grated parmesan cheese?
Whether you’ve got a bit carried away and bought too much (easily done!) or you’re set to be away for a while, there may be times when you might want to store this cheese in the freezer.
In this article I’ll explain when freezing it is a good idea, the best way to freeze it and how to defrost it.
Can You Freeze Grated Parmesan Cheese?
So, can you freeze grated parmesan cheese? The short and simple answer is yes. It is possible to freeze cheese of all kinds, and parmesan has a tendency to freeze better than other cheeses.
Because parmesan is a harder cheese than most, it does not have as much water content as some of the other cheeses. Nevertheless, it was not made to be a freezer item. Therefore, grated parmesan cheese will not keep the same in a freezer as it would in a fridge.
What Happens to Parmesan in the Freezer?
Parmesan may lose some of its consistency in the freezer and may be crumbly after thawing. However, the appeal of the cheese itself after freezing it ultimately comes down to personal preference.
For many, freezing grated parmesan cheese is a great way to keep the freshness and the flavor, and the minor cosmetic differences that arise are not an issue.
When Should You Freeze Parmesan Cheese?
First of all, do not rush to freeze your parmesan cheese if you do not need to. Because parmesan is already an aged cheese it will keep well for a very long time.
However if you’re set on extending the shelf life of your cheese, a helpful tip is to make a note of the expiration date on the original packaging. Make sure to get it in the freezer before the cheese is due to expire, and you should be alright.
How Long Does Frozen Parmesan Last?
Even without being frozen, parmesan has a long long shelf life. Unopened and stored in the fridge, it can last for up to four months. Once opened the cheese should be good for around 6 weeks.
In the freezer though and this could be extended by a little over a year if properly frozen. Frozen grated parmesan cheese can maintain best quality for up to 18 months.
How Long Does Frozen Parmesan Last Once Thawed?
The answer will vary from home to home and fridge to fridge. Nevertheless a good rule of thumb for how long frozen parmesan lasts once thawed is that you should use it within a couple of weeks.
As a side note, once you choose to thaw your cheese, do not put it back in the freezer to refreeze! Once thawed, leave it in the fridge and use it, discarding it in the event that you do not use it before it expires.
How To Freeze Grated Parmesan
A number of methods exist to freeze grated parmesan cheese. However, a couple of the simplest and easiest ways to do this is to get a zipper-lock sandwich bag or a Tupperware container. By taking the correct steps when freezing you can ensure that the quality and flavor of your cheese is prolonged.
Before getting started, I recommend that you only freeze grated or shredded parmesan. I’d advise against sticking a whole block in the freezer!
You should use an airtight plastic or tupperware container to store your cheese in the freezer. A problem that will arise with this method is it may be hard to make them airtight. This will be especially true if you decide to freeze small portions.
I recommend separating portions into several smaller containers rather than using a single large one. This allows you to plan for several servings in the future, and lets you defrost only what you need.
Using Freezer Bags
It’s because of portion control that if given the choice I actually prefer to use freezer bags. Compared to a container, using them offers a few advantages:
- As mentioned, freezer bags make it easy to portion out small amounts of cheese for gradual use.
- It’s also easy to squeeze all of the air out of the bag before placing into storage. This helps to maximize the quality of the cheese.
- Squeezing the air out also means that they take up less space! This makes them the best solution if you’re looking to store as much food as possible in your freezer.
Whether you store your grated parmesan cheese in Tupperware or freezer bags, I recommend labeling them with a date.
This will ensure that you do not eat cheese that is outdated and has been sitting in your freezer for a couple of years.
How to Thaw Grated Parmesan Cheese
Depending on what you’re eating it with, there’s a great deal of personal preference around the time to thaw parmesan. If you’re planning to eat it with a hot pasta dish, you may want to throw it straight on and eat it immediately. If it is grated finely and your food is hot, it won’t stay frozen for long.
You may feel more comfortable defrosting by moving the cheese from the freezer to the refrigerator for 24 hours. This is the standard way to thaw almost anything.
This method is ideal if you’re planning tomorrow’s meal in advance and are planning to make use of your grated cheese.
Cooking with Frozen Parmesan Cheese
If you’re new to cooking with frozen parmesan cheese and are worried about how to do it, have no fear!
All the basic principles you would apply to cooking with unfrozen grated parmesan still apply.
Cooking with frozen parmesan cheese can be as simple as taking it straight out of the freezer and throwing it on top of a hot meal. This will both thaw the cheese and melt it into your food, giving it that delicious parmesan flavor we all love!
If, rather than an accompaniment, parmesan is a significant ingredient of your meal I’d recommend planning ahead and defrosting the desired amount overnight before cooking. This will allow to use the defrosted parmesan exactly as you would if it had never been frozen to begin with.