Sometimes I make a dish which calls for Gruyere, Jarlsberg or another pricey cheese which is sold in much larger quantities than I require. Can these cheeses be frozen and used later for another cooked dish?
Cheese can be frozen, however freezing can affect the quality of the cheese. In general, higher fat cheeses will freeze better than lower fat cheeses. Freezing affects primarily the proteins in the cheese, causing them to become grainy.
Also, cheeses that are made using bacterial culture and rennet will freeze typically better than those made with acid and heat to cause curdling because of differences in the structure of the casein matrix from the two methods.
So, Gruyere and Jarlsberg, both of which are moist cheeses with around 32% moisture and 28-30% fat content (±) will freeze reasonably well. Eaten raw there may be a little graininess, but cooked they may be OK, depending on the recipe. For instance, a soufflé would likely turn out fine, but a fondue may not be as smooth and creamy as one made with fresh cheese.
Cream cheese and ricotta should not be frozen unless they are combined with heavy cream (see Freezing Cream Cheese Dips). Cream cheese can be frozen for later use in dips. Frozen ricotta can be thawed and used to make Italian cheesecake.
To freeze cheese, cover it tightly in a plastic bag or film wrap, being sure to exclude as much air as possible. Some sources suggest grating cheddar and other semi-hard cheeses such as the ones you mentioned, before freezing. I have never tried this, so I look forward to hearing results from anyone who has experimented with both block freezing and freezing grated cheese as to whether one method consistently works better or worse than the other.
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