Multi-national dairy companies ship mozzarella cheese all over the world. Some shredded cheese is sent to retail stores, and a lot gets shipped to the major pizza chains. Each bag is blast frozen to keep the cheese in top condition for long periods. The bags could be opened months later, as good as new.
So does this mean we can store cheese the same way at home? Can you freeze mozzarella cheese in a standard home freezer, or is an expensive blast freezer required?
Can you freeze mozzarella cheese?
Freezing mozzarella at home isn't ideal for the cheese. It's a challenge to store fresh mozz for more than a few days without it developing a slightly bitter flavor. Unlike those commercial blast freezers, the home freezer won't chill the cheese fast enough. The result is cheese with damaged cells, a different texture, and altered taste.
How water content affects the frozen product
The problem all comes down to moisture content. Cheese types have wide-ranging levels of water in them. For example, cheddar tends to have around 37% water, whereas mozzarella has a much higher 52%.
The higher the moisture content, the harder it is to defrost the cheese without damaging its structure. If you've ever seen gluggy, water-logged cheese from the freezer, you'll know what we're talking about.
Does this mean you should never freeze mozzarella? Not really. Just understand there are limitations and that when the time comes to use the cheese, it won't be as good as when it was bought at the store.
Find out how to store cheese the right way.
Visit our in-depth guide to making cheddar cheese at home.
If you love a neat sliced piece of cheese then definitely check out this guide to the best cheese slicer which took many hours to research fully.
Fresh, Block and Shredded
It's not ideal to freeze the fresh product. Ideally, avoid buying in bulk or use a vacuum sealer and refrigerate. If you decide that you must freeze it, use plastic wrap or freezer bags, and ensure it is airtight. If ice crystals find their way in, then it will affect the cheese's texture.
Block will tolerate freezing much better and will retain its flavor. However, expect some degradation in texture, the longer it stays frozen.
Shredded mozzarella can be frozen, but you'll need to be wary of the pieces clumping together. To reduce this problem, add a little flour or cornstarch to the bag and shake it before sealing. When it comes time to use the cheese, add a sprinkling of cheddar to give the cheese an improved structure.
Recipes that don't require the cheeses texture to remain intact are ideal for the frozen ingredient. Soups, casseroles and sauces will easily disguise any icy or clumpy texture.
How long can mozzarella be stored?
|Fridge - cling wrap||5-7 days|
|Fridge - vacuum sealed||2 weeks|
A suitable alternative to freezing
If you have bulk quantities of fresh cheese that you don't want to waste, consider "putting your cheese to sleep."
What you'll need:
A vacuum sealer.
How to do it:
Place the cheese is an appropriate vacuum pack bag and seal using the sealer to remove the fresh air and seal tightly. This step significantly slows down the aging process and allows the mozzarella to last much longer – potentially two weeks.
Thawing Frozen Mozzarella
Do you intend to use frozen mozzarella in dishes that involve melting the cheese? Typical examples are a sauce, soup, or pasta. If so, forget about defrosting it first. It's an unnecessary step that won't improve the dish, but it does increase the chance of unwanted bacteria forming.
For dishes like salads and sandwiches where the cheese won't be melted, pop the mozzarella in the fridge the night before to ensure it's fully defrosted when it's time to eat. Don't defrost using a microwave or submerge the bag in warm water. It'll mess with the texture and make it an unpleasant goo.
- Place the cheese at the back of the freezer. This will reduce temperature fluctuations, which occur at the front of the freezer.
- Use single-serve bags to separate the cheese before adding to the freezer.
- Wrap the cheese in cling wrap then add to a freezer bag to avoid freezer burn. Push all the air our before sealing the bag.
- Avoid defrosting the cheese at room temperature as there's a higher risk of bacteria.
- Use freezer labels for easy identification of cheese type and date of freezing.
- Do a quick visual check of the cheese before freezing to look for signs of mold.
Can you freeze unopened mozzarella cheese?
You can freeze unopened mozzarella by placing the package in a freezer bag and labeling it with the current date.
How do you store leftover mozzarella?
If you intend to store leftover mozzarella, you should decide when it's likely to get eaten. If it's in the next few days, then store in an airtight container in the fridge. To save for longer periods, add to a freezer bag, seal tightly, and freeze for up to 6 months
Can you freeze mozzarella sticks?
Mozzarella sticks can be frozen by placing in a freezer bag, ensuring all the air is forced out before sealing tightly. Label the bag with the current date for easy reference. When it comes time to eat the sticks, they are best deep fried from frozen rather than allowing to defrost.
While block and shredded mozzarella can be frozen successfully, we don't recommend adding fresh mozz to the freezer. Its texture isn't pleasant once thawed.
If you decide to freeze the cheese, be careful to seal it securely, making sure to remove all the air. Ice crystals are the last thing you want, forming on the cheese.
What's your favorite recipe that uses mozzarella? Pizza is excellent, but what other gems do you have to share? Let me know in the comments below.