Maybe you tried to freeze soft cheese before, and it didn’t go well.
Or, you’ve never tried freezing cottage cheese, but you’ve got more cottage cheese than any human can reasonably eat in a week, and it’s about to go off.
Maybe there’s cottage cheese on sale, and you’re wondering whether you can stock up and freeze it for a later date to save some money, time, and effort.
Unlike Parmesan cheese, cottage cheese doesn’t freeze brilliantly.
The freezing and thawing process doesn’t make it inedible, and it’s far from a useless process, but it does limit what you can do with it once it has defrosted.
Read on to find out whether freezing cottage cheese is a good idea, how you go about it, and the best way of defrosting and using it.
The Shelf Life Of Cottage Cheese
The shelf life of cottage cheese largely depends on the type of cheese, how it has been processed, and when it was packed. It’s also affected by how you store it.
If it’s unopened and stored in the fridge, it may last about 10 days. Once opened, it’ll last a maximum of a week.
You can extend the shelf life of cottage cheese by freezing it, but you should aim to use it within 3 months, or the texture and flavor will degrade further.
Should You Freeze Cottage Cheese?
No one will stop you from throwing cottage cheese into the freezer, of course.
There’s certainly no law against it, but it will be a far cry from the fresh version of cottage cheese, as both the flavor and the texture will be affected.
This is the same for most soft cheeses, as the water content is comparatively a lot higher than cheeses which have a much harder consistency.
Most cottage cheese manufacturers advise against freezing cottage cheese.
This is because the freezing and thawing process changes the whole texture of the cheese, in a way that it wasn’t designed to be.
The flavor of this soft cheese can also be hampered to some extent, which pretty much rules out eating it on its own, but there are still a few ways you can use this soft cheese.
Because it changes in texture and flavor, you’re better off using it in cooked dishes.
Within these types of dishes, these changes won’t matter nearly as much.
If you’re struggling for ideas on how to use the cottage cheese, there is a section further down which should give you some ideas to play with.
How Do You Tell If Cottage Cheese Has Gone Rancid?
It’s useful at this point to know how to recognize when cottage cheese has gone rancid.
It’s best to freeze cottage cheese when it’s very fresh, as this will give you better results when you come to use it. Don’t attempt to freeze cottage cheese which is nearly out of date.
The good news is that it’s fairly easy to tell when the cottage cheese has gone off.
Cottage cheese that has taken on a yellow tinge, smells sour or otherwise strange, and the flavor has turned sour should be thrown out.
Any one of these signs is a signal to put the cottage cheese into the trash.
Some people will warn you against a separated consistency, but this isn’t always a sign of the cheese being past its best.
Cottage cheese does separate naturally, and this tends to happen when the package is open and the cheese has been in the fridge for more than a day. Just stir the liquid back in, and it should be fine.
How Do You Freeze Cottage Cheese?
Before we get started on how to freeze cottage cheese, it’s worth noting that some types of cottage cheese freeze better than others.
For example, full-fat cottage cheese, or those with a lot of curd, freeze much better than low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese. The natural fats help preserve the texture and flavor of the cheese through the freezing and thawing process.
Because different brands of cottage cheese can be completely different when it comes to the cheese itself, some brands will freeze better than others.
The first thing you need to do is to figure out exactly how much you’ll want to use at a time. Portion it as necessary, and if you’re not sure, go for the smaller option.
You can always take out more when you need it, but you’ll find it difficult to try and dig out half a portion from a container to defrost it.
Put the cheese straight into freezer bags or airtight containers. Freezer bags work better, especially if you’re planning on freezing the cheese for a while.
They take up less room in the freezer, and there’s less chance of freezer burn ruining the cheese.
Make sure the freezer bags don’t have any leaks, and remember to get rid of any excess air before you seal them. Label, and put the bags in the freezer.
How Do You Thaw Frozen Cottage Cheese?
When you want to defrost the cottage cheese, there are several options to choose from.
One of the best ways is to let it thaw overnight in the fridge. Don’t forget, the more cheese you have to defrost, the longer it will take to thaw.
If you don’t have that kind of time, you can put the whole bag or container (make sure it’s sealed) in a bowl of cold water. This will defrost it much quicker.
Once defrosted, it may be worth taking the extra step of draining any excess water.
The defrosting process will mean that the cottage cheese is much more watery than it should be, and you’ll need to fix it if you’re making pancakes, for example.
You can also use cottage cheese from frozen, if you’re cooking something.
It’s best to put the container into cold water for at least a couple of minutes first. This will help it defrost a bit, so you can dig it out of the container without any hassle.
Make sure to add a few minutes onto the total cooking time of your dish, and this will ensure that everything stays hot. Once you add the cheese, stir frequently, so it defrosts evenly.
Ideas On How To Use Thawed Cottage Cheese
Thawed cottage cheese works well in many dishes, but it doesn’t work well on its own.
You can use it in baking, such as pancakes, cakes – especially cheesecake, but make sure it’s the one you need to bake – pasta dishes, and casseroles.
It’s a good idea to experiment with what cottage cheese freezes best, and what dishes it might compliment, and what dishes it could ruin.
That way, you won’t have any nasty surprises when you’ve gone to all the effort of making a dish, and finding out it’s not as good as you were hoping for.
Cottage cheese is very easy to freeze, as long as you make sure to freeze and thaw it properly.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t, if you keep in mind that it won’t taste the same as fresh cottage cheese, therefore it should only be used in cooking or baking, where the consistency and flavor changes won’t matter.