Across the world, people are trying to be more conscious of the foods they eat and where they’re sourced. As a result, it’s no surprise that vegan cheese is on the rise. Products from companies like Beyond Meat have pushed the quality of vegan alternatives, and cheese is no exception. You can now find high-quality vegan cheese that’s on another level to what vegan cheese was just a few years ago.
There’s no doubt the quality of vegan cheese is increasing, and pretty quickly at that. However, it can still be a bit more expensive than its dairy counterpart.
To save a bit of money it makes sense to buy vegan cheese in bulk if you can.
The problem with that though is that it may expire by the time you get around to using it all. However, you can get around this. Can you freeze vegan cheese? Yes, you can!
Read on to learn everything you need to know about freezing vegan cheese.
What Does Freezing Do to Vegan Cheese?
Freezing is such a good way to prevent food spoilage because it essentially freezes foods in time. This is because low temperatures prevent microorganisms from growing. It also slows down the enzyme activity that causes foods to spoil. Additionally, as water in food freezes, it turns into ice crystals. When water is frozen as ice crystals it becomes unavailable to the microorganisms that need it for growth.
While this is what happens, you can’t quite see this. That is unless the food has been in the freezer so long that ice crystals form around the food which usually isn’t a good sign. When it comes to vegan cheese, the same tiny ice crystals form inside the food because while it may not seem like vegan cheese has a lot of moisture, there is still enough to form crystals.
Whilst vegan cheese is still frozen it won’t look any different. You won’t notice the change until after it’s been defrosted.
If you were to eat it plain you would probably notice a change in texture as thawed vegan cheese usually is more granular and more crumbly.
Which Vegan Cheeses Can You Freeze?
Similar to non-vegan cheese, those that freeze best are ones that have lower water content like hard cheeses. This includes vegan cheeses like vegan parmesan or vegan cheddar.
Semi-soft vegan cheese like vegan mozzarella can also be frozen. However, it may not fare as well as its harder counterparts.
Even a softer vegan cheese like vegan ricotta is fine to freeze. Vegan ricotta is typically made from a combination of nuts, coconut, and tofu. It can freeze pretty well, contrary to popular belief that soft cheeses can’t freeze well. However, it doesn’t freeze so well that it can be used the same as it would be used fresh. I don’t recommend using it when it’s the ‘main event’ – like in a salad or smeared on bread or a cracker. Instead, use thawed vegan ricotta mixed into pasta or something similar. The change in texture isn’t as noticeable as when it’s eaten plain.
You can also freeze shredded vegan cheese as well. While it may be in a different form than the other types, it can still be frozen with no problem as shredded cheese generally comes from harder types of cheese like cheddar.
Which Vegan Cheese Shouldn’t You Freeze?
The type of vegan cheese that isn’t so suitable for freezing is the softest of all – cream cheese. There aren’t any inherent risks in eating vegan cream cheese that’s been frozen and thawed. However the changes in texture and taste may be too much for a pleasurable experience.
Similar to vegan ricotta, if you freeze it, I recommend you only mix it with cooked or baked goods. This is because it may become too watery and grainy to use on it own. However, it’s not inevitable, and how well or poorly it freezes will depend on the brand.
Can You Freeze Vegan Cheese Slices?
Yes, you can certainly freeze vegan cheese slices. In fact, it’s actually probably the best way to freeze vegan cheese. Sliced or grated cheese are the best forms to freeze cheese because it allows for the quickest and easiest defrosting.
If you freeze an entire block of cheese you are pretty much obligated to use the entire block after you defrost it as it’s not recommended to refreeze vegan cheese.
When you freeze vegan cheese in slices you can easily freeze it in small groups or sections of cheese that you can quickly use for sandwiches, burgers, or even on pizza too.
How Long Does Vegan Cheese Last in the Freezer?
How long vegan cheese can be stored in the freezer or fridge can vary depending on the type of vegan cheese.
If the vegan cheese is store-bought and unopened it can last for a few months in the fridge, and usually, it lasts up to 1 week after it’s been opened. However, there are some instances where it may go bad sooner. So it’s always good to check for signs of mold before eating.
Homemade vegan cheese can usually stay good for about 5 days when it’s stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Store-bought vegan cheese can last about 6 months in the freezer. Homemade vegan cheese can also be frozen but it won’t last quite as long in the freezer – only about 3 months.
While most vegan cheeses can freeze relatively well, if you think that you can eat it all within the 4-month window, I would recommend that as the freshest is best.
However, wasting food is worse than it being a little lesser quality. Freezing vegan cheese can also be a great way to save money by buying it in bulk and keeping what you can’t eat soon frozen.
How to Freeze Vegan Cheese?
While it’s super simple to freeze vegan cheese, there are some rules to keep in mind when you are freezing it to keep it in the best shape possible.
The air is the biggest enemy of foods in the freezer. Lots of air trapped in with food can be the difference between fine and ruined food. This is because it can allow the food to deteriorate – particularly due to freezer burn. So it’s important that you keep as much air away from the vegan cheese as possible before you put it in the freezer.
So, here is how you freeze vegan cheese.
- If the cheese is already grated or shredded, sort the cheese into the number of servings that you would like. It’s better to have more individual servings than fewer. As you can always use more. But when slices are frozen together it can be difficult to separate or you may have to defrost more than you need.
- If it’s not already shredded or sliced, I recommend slicing or shredding the cheese and then sort it into the desired portions as previously mentioned.
- Place the cheese in either an air-tight container or plastic freezer-safe bags. Remove as much air as possible.
- Label the bags with the date and put them in the freezer.
While you can use either an air-tight container or plastic bags, I recommend using a freezer-safe bag as you can press more air out than with a rigid container. However, like with other foods, the gold standard of frozen food storage is using a vacuum sealer. So I would highly recommend using that if possible.
How to Defrost Vegan Cheese
Just as there are some tips and rules to follow when freezing it, there are also some for when you defrost it. There are a few different ways that you can defrost vegan cheese, each with its own pros and cons. Which one you use can depend on how much time you have.
In the Refrigerator
Defrosting vegan cheese in the fridge is the best way to keep it from losing its texture if you have the time as it can take 24 hours or more to defrost depending on how big of chunks were frozen. You simply need to put the package, container, or bag in the fridge and let it sit for the allotted time. Avoid taking the cheese out and keep it in the packaging, container, or bag.
Before consuming it, however, look to see if the package or container is still air-tight. If air infiltrated the bag then it may have absorbed some unpleasant tastes and smells from the freezer. Then check the cheese for any signs of damage. If you notice something it may be best to not eat it.
By defrosting it in the fridge you can keep more of the original texture and flavor compared to the next two methods. However, the time it takes may be a luxury you can’t afford. In that case, the next two ways of defrosting vegan cheese are for you.
In the Microwave
This is by far the fastest way to defrost vegan cheese. But as with other foods when you defrost them in the microwave, the results can be hit or miss. However, if you’re in a rush this may be your only option but you should expect more of an impact when it comes to the texture and taste.
To defrost vegan cheese in the microwave simply take it out of the packaging (unless you froze it in a container that’s also microwave-safe) and defrost it on the low setting in 40-second intervals. Keep an eye on it and don’t go longer than 40 seconds or else you may be left with a plate or container full of melted cheese! That’s no bueno!
Using the microwave should be your last resort. Not only may you end up with a plate of melted cheese, but even in the best-case scenario, your microwave may defrost it unevenly. Leaving you with edges that are almost melted while the center is still cold.
On the Counter
This is the second-best method of defrosting as it’s a middle-ground of sorts between the two. It isn’t quite as quick as with the microwave but you don’t have to worry about uneven defrosting.
However, while it’s quicker, the drawback is that you need to pay attention to how long it’s been sitting out. You use the same technique as with the fridge – you simply put the package, container, or bag on the counter and let it defrost. And it will take much less time – usually around 2-3 hours or so. But you should pay attention to it around the 3-hour mark. If it’s left at room temperature aka the “danger zone” when it comes to food, you risk harmful bacteria growing on the food. So you should either put it in the fridge or use it in your cooking promptly after it’s defrosted.
Can You Refreeze Vegan Cheese?
I have said it once and I’ll say it again. It’s generally a bad idea to refreeze vegan cheese.
It may or may not be safe to eat – it depends on how it was stored while it was defrosted. If it was not kept properly there is a risk that harmful bacteria are growing on the cheese.
Additionally, it’s also a bad idea to refreeze vegan cheese because the flavor and texture will suffer additionally, reducing the quality of the food further.
Ultimately, try to eat your vegan cheese as soon as possible.