Q. I needed to buy cream cheese for a recipe, but now I have some leftover and I don’t think it will be consumed before its best before date. Can you freeze cream cheese?
A. Yes, you can freeze cream cheese. Cream cheese is one of the easiest cheese to freeze. Cream cheese is a spreadable cheese product that varies in fat content. Higher fat cream cheese tends to retain more of its taste and texture after being frozen than lower fat versions. Also, thicker processed cream cheese also tends to freeze better than thinner brands or all natural types of cream cheese. Flavored cream cheese can also be successfully frozen.
To freeze cream cheese in its original packaging, wrap the package tightly in foil and place in a freezer bag. To freeze cream cheese that’s been taken out of the original packaging, place it in an airtight, freezer safe container. Then, wrap the container in foil for an extra layer of protection and to protect it against absorbing the flavors of other items in the freezer. Label the package with the date and the contents for reference, and use ideally within 3 months.
When thawing cream cheese, remove it from the freezer and take off the foil wrapping. Allow the cream cheese to defrost in the refrigerator for several hours, until thawed and soft all the way through. Cream cheese has a tendency to separate during the freezing and thawing process, with the fat separating from the rest of the product. This can make the cream cheese become grainy and watery. Don’t drain the excess water off the cream cheese or it will become dry and crumbly. In order to help return cream cheese to as close to its original state as possible, whip it with a hand blender until it becomes creamy.
Even after whipping, cream cheese may not look exactly as it did before freezing, but the taste should be the same. Thawed cream cheese is excellent for use in baking, such as making cheese cakes, muffins, and pies. Thawed cream cheese is also good for use in cooking, such as adding it to soups and casseroles. When used in these types of recipes, the change in texture does not impact the success of the recipe. Many people prefer to use previously frozen cream cheese in this way, rather than using it to spread on crackers or bread because any changes in texture are less noticeable. Use thawed cream cheese within 2-3 days for best results.