Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Friday, November 30, 2012

In the Kitchen—Freezing Dairy

As mentioned in my recent Menu post, I'm carefully monitoring what I eat, eating healthy and mostly vegan/vegetarian for the majority of my meals, but two times a week I get a treat meal where I can eat whatever I want. This brings up the question of what to do with leftovers from the treat meals. If I bake a cake for dessert on one of these treat meals (like last night when we had champagne and pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting to celebrate my gentleman getting his masters degree), what do I do after eating a slice or two? If I buy a chunk of cheese to make enchiladas for a treat meal (like I'm doing tonight) what do I do with any cheese I don't use immediately?

So today I am researching freezing. I've already thrown my Thanksgiving cranberry sauce in the freezer to use in sandwiches at future treat meals (freezable containers for Thanksgiving leftovers were the only thing I bought on Black Friday), and I'm planning on cutting the pumpkin cake into individual servings to put in the freezer. But what about other things, like that block of cheese?

Yes, cheese can be frozen, but it will change the texture. If you're going to be cooking or melting the cheese (pizza or quesadillas anyone?) the change of texture won't be that noticeable. Putting thawed cheese on a plate with some fruit, probably not a good idea. Also, the fancier the cheese, the less you should be freezing it. But as Andrea at Forkable says, it's better to freeze fancy cheese for later than to simply toss it.

Same thing with cream cheese. Freezing will change the texture, so you won't want to spread that thawed cream cheese on a bagel. But using it in a hot dip? Go ahead.

OK, so how about sour cream? I do love sour cream on a burrito or on potatoes with salsa. Freezing sour cream gives it the texture of cottage cheese. So follow the same advice as with the other dairy: use it in cooked foods. Sad day, maybe I'll try cottage cheese-like sour cream on a burrito anyway.

Colleen Rush at The Nest gives an explanation to what happens to cheese in the freezer, and it sounds like it applies to most dairy products:

Because of the moisture content or vein-y, open texture of most cheeses, ice crystals develop inside as cheese freezes. (Hey, that rhymes!) The ice “breaks” the curds in the cheese apart, which alters the texture of the cheese from creamy and smooth to crumbly or grainy when it thaws.

With all things frozen, make sure to date the foods and use them within six months of freezing. Also make sure to wrap your cheese up air-tight.

For more info on freezing cheese, see here.

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