Q. I have a large bag of shredded cheese left over from a recipe. Can you freeze shredded cheese?
A. Yes, shredded cheese can be frozen, and is actually a better choice than freezing blocks of cheese. Shredding your own cheese can help save money, as pre-shredded cheese is typically more expensive than blocks of cheese by weight. Also, commercially shredded cheese often contains additives to help ward against clumping. Shredding cheese yourself and freezing it for future use is a great way to save money and avoid those extra ingredients.
Cheese typically becomes crumbly after being frozen, but this isn’t a problem with grated or shredded cheese. When freezing grated cheese, the biggest concern is clumping, especially if you plan to freeze a large amount for use in several different recipes. Hard cheeses work best, as softer cheese tends to clump together when thawed, losing texture. Never freeze expired cheese.
Some of the best cheeses for shredding and freezing include Mozzarella, Cheddar, Parmesan, Monterey Jack, and Swiss.
To avoid clumping when frozen, place grated cheese in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. When shreds are slightly hardened, place shredded cheese in a plastic freezer bag. Spread the cheese to lay flat, partially closing the freezer bag until there is only a small opening left. Insert a straw into the opening and suck the extra air out of the bag. Seal the bag tightly. Using a permanent marker, label the bag with the type of cheese and date frozen. Large quantities can be frozen in one freezer bag with a layer of waxed or parchment paper in between layers of shredded cheese. For individual serving sizes, use small snack sized freezer bags, using the same process. Cheese can also be frozen in plastic containers.
Another tip to avoid clumping is to sprinkle a tablespoon of flour into a freezer bag on top of grated cheese before freezing. Close the bag, and shake to coat cheese with the flour. The thin coating of flour acts as a buffer to soak up moisture and keep the cheese from clumping together.
To use, thaw cheese in the freezer bag placed in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Do not thaw cheese in a bowl of warm water or it will melt together and could become unsafe to consume. Cheese will keep frozen for 3-6 months. Once thawed, use cheese within 2 days, or cheese may begin to go moldy.
If using cheese in a recipe that will be baked in an oven, cheese can be used directly from the freezer, crumbled into the recipe.