Ah, cheese. Who doesn’t love a bit of Parmesan? While you can use leftover cheese fairly easily, maybe you bought a lot of it, and you don’t want cheese every day for the rest of your week, or month.
You probably know by now that dairy products can be tricky to freeze, and the bigger the water content, the worse it will freeze. But what about Parmesan cheese?
You can breathe a sigh of relief, because you can freeze it in several forms, whether that’s in a huge block, or leftover grated cheese, or ready-grated cheese you bought but haven’t opened.
You can also pre-grate it before freezing to save you some time when it comes to defrosting and using it.
This also means that you won’t need to portion it, and if you don’t know exactly what you’ll be using it for, at least you can choose as much as you need without wasting any when it comes to using it.
Outside the European Union, ‘Parmesan’ may refer to the authentic cheese called Parmigiano-Reggiano, which is the original Parmesan made in Italy.
It can also refer to a cheese which is very similar to Parmesan in its age and consistency, resembling Parmesan in everything but the official name.
Inside the EU, ‘Parmesan’ refers exclusively to Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese made in Italy.
All cheese labelled as Parmesan within the EU is subject to strict quality control, and has to be, in order to be classed as cheese under the name Parmigiano-Reggiano.
All cheese labelled as Parmesan outside the EU should be affected in the same way as the real thing when you freeze and defrost it, as it is essentially mimicking the same cheese.
Keep reading if you want to know the best ways of freezing Parmesan cheese, no matter which form you chose to begin with.
Can You Freeze Parmesan Cheese In Its Different Forms?
Yes. All different types of Parmesan cheese can be frozen with very little effort, and they freeze fairly well.
This is because Parmesan cheese has a low water content, and the same goes for other cheeses which have a similarly low level of moisture.
It doesn’t, however, work well for fresh Mozzarella balls, for example, because they have a significantly higher moisture level.
You only have to look at the packet and all the liquid inside to see that trying to freeze it won’t end beautifully. Having said that, you can freeze it, but you should only use the thawed end result for melted cheese.
It is worth noting that frozen Parmesan does alter in its consistency when it has been frozen and thawed. It does tend to lose a little crumbliness.
This may or may not be a dealbreaker, depending on your personal taste, and what you want to use the cheese for. You can also mitigate this by grating it, and that way the texture change isn’t noticeable.
The good news is that you have several options. You can grate it before you freeze it, after, or even when it’s still frozen solid (though this will take noticeably more effort!)
If you haven’t opened your Parmesan cheese, you can get away with not freezing it for a couple of months, depending on when you bought it.
You can also throw the whole thing into the freezer.
Can You Freeze Grated Parmesan Cheese?
Freezing grated or shredded Parmesan cheese is a perfect way of prolonging the shelf life of the cheese, and it does mean you won’t lose much texture or taste.
It also helps that you can reach for it whenever a dish calls for it, and grab as much as you need, saving you from defrosting the lot at once.
It’s perfect for those ad hoc moments, when you feel a dish could really do with some cheese to set it off nicely, but that doesn’t mean you need to have a load of cheese in the fridge, which may or may not go moldy.
Grated or shredded Parmesan cheese will last a few months, making it a good option if you never have cheese in the house when you want it, but you don’t otherwise use it if there’s a big block sitting in the fridge.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve bought ready-grated Parmesan cheese, or whether you’ve grated it yourself, both will freeze fine.
But what about whole blocks of Parmesan cheese?
Can You Freeze Blocks Of Parmesan Cheese?
If you’re someone who isn’t a die-hard cheese lover, and you just want to know if you can freeze it whole, yes, you can.
If you’re more of a cheese enthusiast, you might want to hold off on freezing a whole block or wedge.
This is because the consistency does change once it freezes, and it does lose some of its trademark crumbly texture.
If you are someone who just wants to add cheese as a crumbly accent for any dish, this isn’t really a problem. It will still crumble as it should, just not as much as it would if it was fresh.
How much it will crumble depends on how long it has been sitting in the freezer, and how good quality the cheese is to start with. If it is a better quality cheese, it could retain more of its texture than a more cost-effective option.
Freezing blocks of Parmesan cheese also affects the flavor somewhat, so it’s best to only use it as melted cheese, rather than as is.
That’s not to say that you can’t grate the Parmesan cheese after you’ve thawed it. There’s nothing wrong with that, it will just be somewhat different from its original texture and flavor.
Why Do People Advise Against Freezing Parmesan Cheese?
Many cheese manufacturers across the world argue against freezing Parmesan cheese, for the simple reason that its trademark crumbliness is mostly lost when the cheese is put through the freezing and thawing process.
This is the same for almond milk. Manufacturers who produce almond milk advise against freezing it, not because the end result is dangerous or unfit for consumption, but because it loses the quality and texture it was designed to have as a fresh product.
When it comes to Parmesan cheese being crumbly, this only really applies when the cheese is a solid block or in slices.
This suggests that it is better to shred or grate Parmesan cheese and then freeze it, as there won’t be a noticeable difference between the fresh version and the thawed version.
In order to get the best out of the flavor, once you have thawed your Parmesan cheese, you should use it melted. This will also mean that you won’t notice a difference in the cheese’s texture, either.
How To Freeze Parmesan Cheese
Now you know that you can freeze different forms of Parmesan cheese, it’s time to explore exactly how you do it.
How To Freeze Blocks of Parmesan Cheese
To freeze blocks of Parmesan cheese, you should use a resealable freezer bag. If you’re planning to freeze it for a long period of time, wrap it in foil or cling film before you put it in the bag.
Make sure to remove any excess air from the bag, and seal it. Label the bag with the date of freezing, and put it into the freezer. This will help stop any freezer burn.
It’s the easiest way to freeze Parmesan, especially if you’re short on time.
If you haven’t opened the Parmesan and you still want to freeze it, put the whole thing in the freezer in its original packaging.
How To Freeze Grated Or Shredded Parmesan Cheese
There’s only a few extra steps to freezing grated or shredded Parmesan. You’ll first need to grate it – if it isn’t already.
Then you can flash-freeze it.
You’ll want a baking tray, preferably lined with parchment, to stop the cheese from sticking. Spread the cheese evenly on the sheet, and put the whole thing in the freezer until it’s frozen solid.
Take the baking tray out of the freezer. If you try to handle the cheese, you’ll notice that it has become sticky or claggy.
This has a quick fix. Using a fish slice or a fork, stir the whole thing to stop it clumping together.
This will make it much easier to separate while it’s completely frozen later on, and means you don’t have to divide it into portions.
Put the cheese into a suitable container which is airtight, and seal it. Label it with the date you froze it, and put it into the freezer.
How Long Does Parmesan Cheese Last In The Freezer?
Aim to use Parmesan cheese within three months of freezing it. Anything after that, and you’ll start to notice a slight decline in quality and texture, which will get worse the longer you leave it.
It honestly depends on your personal tastes as to how long you can stand it. If you freeze it for six months and don’t mind the resulting taste, does it matter?
Everything you place in the freezer will slowly lose its quality over time, some sooner than others, so it’s worth keeping this in mind.
If you check your freezer every week for things that might need eating, this is a good practice to get into.
Not because the quality will plummet, but because we tend to forget about the back of the freezer, and rediscover things only as the freezer itself needs defrosting. Like, two years later. Oops.
The Best Methods To Defrost Parmesan Cheese
You Can Grate It Frozen
If you freeze whole blocks of Parmesan cheese, you’ll be glad to know that you can grate it without having to defrost the block first.
This saves you having to defrost a whole block – which would take much longer – and eliminates the risk of wasting cheese.
Of course, it does take much more effort to grate it while the block is frozen, and much longer to grate it than fresh cheese.
If you’re grating a large amount of cheese with a grater that isn’t very sharp, this could end up defrosting part of the block if it takes too long. Just something else to be aware of.
Nevertheless, if this sounds like something you want to try, grate as much as you need, and then put the remainder of the block back into the freezer.
How To Defrost A Whole Wedge Of Parmesan Cheese
If you’d prefer to defrost the entire block, you can do that too. It depends on the size of the wedge or block of cheese as to how long it will take.
A smaller wedge may take a maximum of eight hours, but a huge block can take sixteen hours or longer, depending on its size.
The best way to defrost whole blocks is to put them straight into the fridge, and leave overnight. This method may require some planning, but it’s the easiest way to defrost a whole block of Parmesan.
While you will be able to use it as normal once you’ve thawed it, don’t forget about the texture change.
Refrain from using thawed cheese on a cheese platter, and instead stick to melted or grated cheese, or you may risk having a disappointing dish.
Use Frozen Pre-Grated Parmesan Cheese Straight From The Freezer
Grated Parmesan cheese is very versatile, so much so that you can skip the defrosting process.
This is perfect for last-minute additions to any dish, and works well for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time, or doesn’t use a huge amount of cheese at once, but would still like to have it as a staple in many dishes.
The best way is to throw the frozen grated cheese into whatever dish you’re cooking. It’s that simple. Because frozen grated cheese is easy to separate, you can choose exactly how much to use.
But it is best to do so when the dish is still cooking, as you’ll still need the cheese to defrost enough to melt. You’ll also want any excess liquid to evaporate, or your dish may become watery.
If you try adding frozen grated cheese onto dishes as a last-minute addition like you would with fresh cheese, you’ll only end up with a disaster if it’s not hot enough.
You’ll either end up with half-defrosted, half-melted cheese, or a meal which is lukewarm.
How To Defrost Shredded Or Grated Parmesan Cheese
If you don’t want to add the frozen cheese to a dish which is cooking, you can also defrost the Parmesan cheese before you use it.
Put it straight into the fridge, and either leave it for a few hours or overnight.
There is, however, one drawback. If you are using Parmesan cheese that you grated yourself, the consistency can become stickier than you would expect.
This doesn’t happen with the pre-grated stuff you buy, as that usually has an anti-caking agent to stop it from happening. In this case, it may be better to melt it, as the texture will become less noticeable.
Depending on your tastes and how much time you have, you can freeze and defrost Parmesan cheese in a number of ways.
The one which requires the least amount of effort is freezing shredded Parmesan, as it also makes it much easier to portion when you come to defrost it.
But it also depends on what you want to use the cheese for.
If you want to crumble the Parmesan, you’re better off freezing the block as is. This leaves you free to decide what you want to do with the cheese, as you can also use it for grated cheese later.
If you’re someone who only uses cheese in its melted form, freezing it in its grated form saves a lot of fuss and time.
If you use the flash freeze method above, you don’t even need to portion it, just take out what you need, and put the rest back.
This way, you can also freeze much larger amounts. Comparatively, a whole block of cheese will take much longer to freeze and then defrost than grated cheese, which has the same weight.
Freezing Parmesan cheese this way will also allow you to get more stuff into your freezer. The fuller your freezer is, the better it will keep the right temperature, also saving you money as well as the planet.