Can You Freeze Mozzarella Cheese?
There was this fantastic deal on mozzarella in your local grocery, and you’ve bought way too much. Even if you and your family love it, having a dish with mozzarella topping for dinner seven days in a row is a bit too much. And you don’t want any of it to go off. That means you need a way to extend its shelf life, and freezing is the apparent option.
That brings us to the question: can you freeze mozzarella? And the answer to that is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no. Let’s talk about freezing this semi-soft cheese.
Mozzarella is available in at least three forms: fresh (balls submerged in liquid), block (like Edam or Gouda), and shredded. Knowing that is important because not all of them freeze well.
Store-bought shredded mozzarella usually contains preservatives that help keep the cheese fresh. That means it usually has a long shelf life, and often you can finish the container before the date on the label. If that’s not a possibility, however, shredded mozzarella freezes well, so there’s nothing to worry about.
Mozzarella blocks often have quite a long shelf life too. But if you can’t finish the block before its use-by date, that’s not a big deal. They freeze well, and the freezing process takes a couple of minutes tops. The only thing you should know is that it crumbles more easily after thawing, so it might make sense to slice it before freezing if you know you’re going to need it in sliced form.
Last but not least, we have fresh mozzarella balls. If you scour the Internet for opinions on freezing this type of mozzarella, you will find they are all over the place. Some people say you can totally do it, while others swear against it. What gives? Freezing fresh mozzarella noticeably alters its texture, and the taste often suffers a bit too. The cheese is no longer soft and smooth but becomes dry and crumbly.
Such cheese definitely won’t make the cut for an addition to your breakfast sandwiches but is usually good enough if melted. In other words, if you freeze fresh mozzarella, make sure you use it in a recipe that requires melting it.
The way to freeze this dairy product depends on in which form it comes. All of them are quite simple, though, and require a couple of minutes of active time at most.
- Portion or slice the block. You probably won’t use the whole block within a couple of days, so to avoid refreezing or forcing yourself to use more than you need, you should portion it. Cut the whole block into several chunks, or slice it if the cheese will be melted on sandwiches. Go with what makes the most sense.
- Package the cheese. If you went with chunks, you can go about it the same way I went with Brie slices. Take a cookie sheet and put a large freezer bag on top, then lay out the chunks in the bag in a way they don’t touch each other. If you chose slices, you could do it the same way, but instead of freezing every single slice separately, feel free to make piles of several slices. Each pile should have as many slices as you need for a single meal to make defrosting easy. Remove the air from the bag and seal it. If you want to freeze the whole block, just toss it into a freezer block.
- Label the package if you find it helpful and stick it in the freezer. If you went with the cookie sheet trick, remove the sheet once the cheese freezes, as it’s no longer needed.
- Portion the cheese if needed. If you won’t use all of the shredded mozzarella at once, divide it into a couple of portions ready for whatever dish you’re going to add them into.
- Put each portion to a freezer bag. Add a label with name and date if it helps you.
- Stick the freezer bags into the freezer.
Before we talk about how to freeze mozzarella balls, let me once again warn you that the freezing process messes with the texture of the cheese. In short, it’s best to use it in a cooked dish upon thawing.
- Drain the liquid and excess moisture from the cheese balls. Some paper towels will be handy here. Water creates ice crystals when frozen, and we want as little crystals as possible.
- Portion the mozzarella balls if needed. You can slice them, or keep them intact, depending on what makes sense for you.
- Package the portions. If you plan on freezing the cheese for more than a month or two, consider wrapping each portion in plastic wrap. Then transfer the portions into a freezer bag on top of a cookie sheet, just like described in freezing mozzarella blocks. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag tightly once you’re done. Add a label if needed.
- Put the cookie sheet into the freezer. Once the portions freeze, feel free to remove the cookie sheet and leave the balls in the freezer bag.
When it comes to thawing mozzarella, there are a couple of options:
- Overnight in the fridge. The safest and most popular way to defrost food works for mozzarella too. If you defrost the cheese in the refrigerator, you can refreeze the leftovers.
- In cold water. If you’re short on time, submerge the freezer bag with the mozzarella in cold water. Defrosting should take between an hour and a couple of hours, depending on the size of the cheese.
- Use it frozen. If you planned for what you’re going to use the mozzarella and portioned it accordingly, often you can throw it right into whatever you’re cooking. Add a couple of minutes of cooking time to adjust for defrosting and warming up the frozen dairy.
When it comes to frozen and defrosted mozzarella, you can use it pretty much the same way you would use it without freezing. The only thing to remember here is that if you’re dealing with defrosted fresh mozzarella balls, make sure you use them melted. Here are a couple of typical uses of this dairy product:
- Pizza or casserole topping. Not surprising, huh?
- Sandwiches or paninis. Melted mozzarella makes a great addition to many baked goods.
- Soups. Yeah, creamy soups with mozzarella are a thing. Just like with blue cheese.
- Frittatas, scrambled eggs, and everything else that’s prepared on the stove. Almost every food benefits from some extra melted cheese on top.