Freezing brie is possible, but it is not always advisable because the thawing process can change the texture drastically. Want to learn more about when freezing brie cheese makes sense and how to do it? Read on!
Soft, spreadable brie cheese can be an expensive treat, so finding it on sale might seem like a wonderful opportunity to stock up. However, like most soft cheese, brie doesn’t last for very long once you get it home. Most of the time, when you’re faced with losing food to time and expiration dates, freezing is the best route to take. However, while freezing brie is possible, it is not always advisable because the thawing process can change the texture of the cheese so drastically that it no longer has the same fresh appeal that it did before you placed it in icy storage.
How Freezing Affects Brie Cheese
Brie will freeze if you place it in the freezer. It will last, too, because anything that gets frozen properly will remain safe to eat. The quality of the frozen food, though, is quite another matter. Brie is a soft cheese, a particular subtype of cheese that is more watery than hard and semisoft cheeses — that’s why it’s so easy to spread brie on a cracker. But that higher water content means that freezing and thawing processes are going to change the smooth texture of the brie into something lumpier and more grainy.
When you freeze food, the water content of the food turns to ice, which expands a bit. A tiny piece of ice isn’t going to expand that much, but if you have many tiny pieces of ice, the non-ice portions of the food are going to get pushed, pulled, and mashed by the expanding pieces of ice. Then, when you thaw the food, the ice melts, leaving tiny holes and taking away the moisture that made the food so appealing when it was still fresh.
Image used under Creative Commons from Larry Hoffman
How to Freeze Brie
You’re better off trying to moderate how much brie you buy and eat so that you can keep it fresh in the refrigerator. However, if you do want to freeze it — maybe the sale was just that good, or a life situation is preventing you from eating the brie — try to cut it into smaller pieces or wedges and wrap each piece well. Try not to let extra air remain in the packages. When you cut and wrap the fresh brie, don’t do that after it’s been sitting out for a bit because the warmth of the room will make it softer. Place it in the fridge for a couple of hours to let it firm up just a little more.
After you’ve wrapped each piece that you intend to freeze, place them in sections of the freezer where nothing will fall on them. Try to use the packages within six months to prevent major freezer burn from setting in. Freezer burn doesn’t affect safety, but it does affect quality.
Thaw frozen brie in the refrigerator — do not thaw it in the sink or on the counter. Give the brie a good day or so before you use it. If you can, use the thawed brie in a cooked dish such as baked brie or pizza — yes, there are brie pizzas! Since cooking is meant to change the texture of a food anyway, that will help cover up any grainy or lumpy side effects from the freezing. Whether you add the brie to a cooked dish or try to use it as a “fresh” accompaniment to breads and fruit, use thawed brie as quickly as you can. Do not use it if it’s been thawed for more than two days — throw that out.
Even if freezing isn’t an optimal storage method for brie, it is an option. Start off by freezing small amounts and experimenting to build up your thawed-brie repertoire. In the end, you’ll save money and be able to eat brie more often — and that usually makes up for the extra steps you have to take to freeze and thaw this cheese.