Have you ever frozen cheese before? How were the results?
I have frozen hard cheeses such as cheddar before. I have even frozen a block of cream cheese before and used it later in baking. Once I grated a whole block of cheddar cheese then froze it. Well, it seems it does not stay grated once frozen. It just melts back together in one big clump which I then had to regrate. I guess that’s why cheese companies add things like corn starch or cellulose or whatever to grated or shredded cheese to keep that from happening.
When I was growing up and in my young adult pre-cooking years, I only had limited knowledge of cheese which consisted pretty much of cheddar, swiss, mozzarella and, excuse me, but Velveeta. Got to love that Velveeta! Even if I cringe a bit every time I use some. About once every couple of years I buy some, looking furtively up and down the aisle to make sure no one I know sees me. But a bit of that dropped into a pot of tuna and noodle sauce is magic. And putting some in your homemade mac n cheese does wonders. You don’t have to have it of course, but it does add a little something. No, I really would rather not follow up on what that something is, thanks anyway.
Then one day, hubby and I visited a Wild Oats store. They had an amazing cheese area! A large display of over 100 cheeses, big wheels of it behind the counter along with huge hanging cheeses. We were agog! (Is that still a word, agog?)
Since then we have had fun seeking out new cheeses, tasting samples, finding out what our favorites are. Like aged Goudas. We love aged Goudas, like ‘Vincent’. I love aged anything pretty much. Give me old sharp cheese any day. Aged Provolone anyone? Oh wait, goat cheese too, yum, crumbled on scrambled eggs. I think the only cheese that has not really put wind beneath my wings are Bries. They are okay, just not that big a deal.
But now I have a block of blue cheese that we have partially used and I would hate to see it go bad. We love our blue!
So I am going to take some of it, wrap it well and freeze it. Then in a month or so I will take it out and let you know how it turned out. Or if you have already had experience with this, let me know. If all else fails, it will probably be fine in burgers, or mixed with butter to put over steaks, huh? Or crumbled in a salad, or added to a homemade dressing…
One sons favorite after school snack was ‘cheese toast’. We would lightly toast a piece of bread, then spread mayo on it with a sprinkle of garlic salt. Then we would top it with assorted cheeses, cheddar, jack, mozzarella, whatever and pop it into the toaster oven for a couple of minutes. Oh yeah, hog heaven!
Call me crazy, but I used to think cheese lasted pretty much forever because, ya’know, cheese ages. So imagine my surprise when I went to grate some cheese into a dish I was making and this horrid smell came at me from the vicinity of the cheese. I think we were having tacos, way-way back when. I tasted some. Eeeewww! Since that rude awakening, I have noticed that yes, cheese can go bad. It can even mold, in a bad way. Cream cheese should not turn blue or pink or red or green. Toss it post haste! Cheddar should not get black spots. Neither should mozzarella. Some cheese has mold on purpose like Blue and Gorgonzola, but keep an eye, they can still go bad.
If it is a hard cheese and gets a small fuzzy spot, you can cut it off, with a generous amount of the cheese, and smell it to see if is still good. It may still be usable.But soft cheeses, no. You must throw away if they start sprouting interesting colors. Because the colors on the surface are just an indication of what is growing down into the cheese itself.
So I have learned that while cheese does age, that does not mean once it is cut and in your fridge, it lasts forever. It will last longer, once open, if you remove it from the plastic wrap and wrap it in paper, such as wax paper or parchment, then put it in a bag in the fridge, loosely sealed. Cheese needs some air, when chilling. Too much will dry it out. Too little, it will go bad faster. If you are freezing it, you need to seal it of course. I always wondered how people kept cheese out back in the day. I see cute cheese plates with glass lids. Probably for Brie cheeses, which need to come to room temperature and get soft enough to spread on crackers.
While we are on the subject of cheese, and may I pause to give a big hug of sympathy to all those lactose intolerant uncheese people out there, I found an interesting site on the Sargento page about different cheeses. Even now I am always finding out new things about cheese. For example, did you know how wonderful Parmesan rinds are in soup? I must give you my minestrone soup recipe some day so you can try it. It not only imparts a good flavor to the soup, but makes it fun to find out ‘who found the cheese?’ when it has turned into a gooey lump in the broth.
And while we are on the subject, could someone please explain Mexican cheeses to me? I keep seeing them in the store, some feel softer, some not. But I cant tell which is for tacos, which is for melting or what?