You spread it on bread, use it to make your cheesecakes and frostings, add it to your pasta, stew, and soup and use it as a dip! Cream cheese is a versatile ingredient that adds richness and creaminess to anything you add it to. So it is no wonder that when we see it on the shelves, we almost instinctively grab one or two, just in case we need it, right? It is always good to stock up on kitchen essentials. However, unlike other types of cheese, it is infused with cream, making it susceptible to expiring quicker, even when refrigerated constantly. So, the question then is, can you freeze cream cheese instead?
The short answer is –yes, you can. However, unlike other freezer-friendly ingredients, freezing this soft, creamy cheese comes with certain consequences that we will be discussing here. But first, let us get to know more about this yummy delicacy.
What is Cream Cheese?
This soft, mild-tasting cheese was originally made by mixing a mature French cheese called Neufchâtel with cream. William A. Lawrence, an American dairyman, first manufactured it in 1872 and quickly became wildly popular by the 1800s. It is a type of fresh cheese made with cream or a mix of cream and milk, accounting for its smooth, velvety texture and opulent taste. By US standards, it should contain at least 30% milkfat and 55% moisture content.
How Long Does Cream Cheese Last?
If you anticipate using your cream cheese in the next few days, storing them in your fridge is the best way to go. However, if you need it to last longer, freezing it would be your best option. Here are the storage timelines that you should take note of:
In the Fridge:
- Unopened- you can safely store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. If you see that it is nearing its expiration date, do not fret! You can still consume it safely a month after the good by date as long as you keep it constantly chilled.
- Opened- it should stay good in your fridge for up to 2 weeks. Take note, though, that cream cheese should always be refrigerated and can only remain at room temperature for not more than 2 hours. If exposed for more than 4 hours, it is no longer recommended for safe consumption.
In the Freezer:
You can keep both an unopened and opened pack of cream cheese frozen for up to 2 months. There are three things to remember when doing this.
- The first is to transfer your cream cheese to an airtight container if you have already used it. Unused ones can go straight t the freezer.
- Second, always make sure to select the freshest cream cheese you can find. Though it is okay to use a month after expiration, the quality of your frozen cheese will turn out better if they are frozen fresh.
- Lastly, always label them with the storage date. It is always wise to keep track of how long your food has been sitting in your freezer.
What is the Effect of Freezing Cream Cheese?
Because of its fat and moisture content, freezing cream cheese will have a negative effect in terms of texture. It will turn from smooth to grainy and soft to crumbly once thawed. This is fine if you are planning to use it for recipes that do not require its spreadable quality. So, frozen cream cheese is absolutely okay if you use it to cook sauces and soups or for baking desserts, but not for spreading on your toast, bagels, and sandwiches.
How to Defrost Cream Cheese?
One monumental mistake you can make when thawing frozen cream cheese is bringing it to room temperature right away. The best way to do it is to transfer it from your freezer to the fridge and let it thaw there overnight. Do not be surprised if you see quite a textural change; it is normal. You cannot bring it back to its original glory. However, there are some ways for you to get back your cream cheese to an acceptable state.
How to Make Frozen Cream Cheese Creamy Again?
It is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is quickly warm it up using the microwave. Make sure to not overheat it, though. 10 to 15 seconds should be enough. Once it has warmed up, give it a good whisk for the separated liquid and fats to merge. If it is still grainy or crumbly, a splash of milk might help too.
Can I Freeze Cream Cheese Frosting?
If you bought a bunch of cream cheese for the sole purpose of making frosting out of them, then you are in luck! You can actually skip freezing the cream cheese itself and make a big batch of frosting and freeze for up to three months. Follow the same thawing method above and make sure to whip it up with a mixer before using it. Believe me, it is so convenient to have ready-made cream cheese frosting to use when you need it.
My Final Thoughts
I am a staunch believer that nothing should go to waste, especially something as versatile as cream cheese! And since I also hate going back to the grocery store just to grab one when I need it, freezing cream cheese is definitely the key. So next time you go shopping, grab as much cream cheese as you will need for the next 2 months! And if ever you got more than you need, here are some of my awesome recipes that you can try to make good use of them: