Q. My young son likes to make his own sandwiches for his school lunches. He’s too young to cut cheese with a sharp knife, so I’ve started simply preparing cheese slices in advance for him. However, I’ve noticed that cheese slices start to harden and go dry faster than when the cheese is left in a block. I guess the moisture escapes easier in sliced form. Anyway, I’m getting tired of throwing away cheese, but like the convenience of having slices ready to use. I’m looking for a way to store the cheese slices for the long term. Can you freeze cheese slices?
A. Yes, you can freeze cheese slices, particularly if you are slicing hard cheeses. The best cheeses to freeze in slices are harder cheeses such as cheddar or Monterey Jack. Softer cheeses have more moisture in them, and are less likely to hold up after being frozen and then thawed again in slices. Cheeses such as Havarti or even mozzarella are better frozen grated or in a solid piece, rather than sliced and then used in recipes at a later time. Hard cheeses are more likely to remain in slices, instead of becoming mushy and too soft.
How to Freeze Cheese Slices?
The most important thing to make sure of when freezing cheese slices is that the cheese being frozen is at its freshest. Check the slices for mold or discoloration, and discard any pieces that you find with either of these features. Since you’re slicing up the whole block of cheese at one time, this shouldn’t be an issue. Next, don’t freeze any cheese slices that have been kept at room temperature for a long period of time. If a cheese has been sitting out for several hours, it might be best to discard it instead of trying to freeze it.
Once you’ve selected fresh cheese slices that are ready for freezing, they need to be prepared so that the slices won’t stick together once frozen. Place a piece of parchment paper in between each cheese slice, creating a stack of cheese slices as you go. You can also dust a little bit of flour on each slice to keep down the risk of clumping, but parchment paper alone should work.
How to Defrost Cheese Slices?
Place the stacked cheese slices in a freezer bag and remove the excess air. Seal the bag, then label and date it. Alternatively, place the cheese in a freezer safe container with a secure lid. Use frozen cheese slices within 4-6 months for best results. To thaw, remove desired amount of cheese slices from the freezer and place in the fridge until thawed.