Are you a cheese junkie too? It’s not the life we chose, nor is it one we want to give up.
The problem is, cheese does not always last. On the rare occasion I haven’t inhaled the whole block in one sit-in, the question arises, how do I store my cheese?
Freezing cheese is always an option, and with harder cheeses faring well in the freezer, you do wonder, what about the softer cheeses?
Can you freeze queso fresco? The delicious creamy cheese that we love so much?
Well, yes, technically you can freeze this cheese. But there is a lot of advice against it, mainly due to the high moisture level in the cheese that does not survive well when defrosting.
Should You Freeze Queso Fresco?
Queso fresco is a fresh cheese, popular in Mexican dishes, and known for its creamy taste and crumbly nature.
It is advised, as is with most soft cheeses not to freeze, but to enjoy them fresh instead.
Soft cheeses or cream cheeses have a higher moisture level, which gives it that creamier feel. In queso fresco, it’s the cows or goats milk that provides this creamy feel. Crumbled over food, or added into cooking, its creaminess remains intact when fresh.
However, when you freeze the cheese, its consistency will change dramatically. Especially if the cheese has already been cut, ice crystals will form in the cheese.
Due to its high moisture level, this will even happen if you freeze the cheese intact.
These crystals, when the cheese defrosts will cause a very watery texture, sometimes it will even seem as though there is a puddle of water in the middle of your cheese!
This will impact the consistency of your cheese, as it will be watery. You will probably not be able to crumble it as you can with fresh queso fresco. It would be better suited for cooking, but you will have to deal with the excess water that will now be present in the cheese.
It can also develop a grainy texture as do other frozen dairy products, which would be noticeable when eating. Again you could combat this by using it in cooking, but as the consistency will have changed significantly even this may not mask it.
Will It Make You Sick?
There is little to say that if you choose to go ahead with freezing your queso fresco, that eating it after it has been defrosted will make you unwell.
You will need to make sure that the cheese is fully thawed in the fridge before consuming and does not appear gone off in any way.
You will notice a significant change in its texture so it is best to eat this cheese when fresh if possible.
How to freeze queso fresco
If you still want to try freezing your queso fresco, follow the steps below to do this.
First, you will need to select the portion of cheese you want to freeze and make sure it has not gone off (no changes to smell, or visible signs of mold).
Wrap the cheese as tightly as possible in either its original packaging or some foil if you have made the cheese yourself. Pop this into an airtight ziplock bag or container, making sure it is securely sealed.
The best approach is rapid freezing at -9 Fahrenheit if possible to try and avoid ice crystals forming. This is inevitable with queso fresco, but your best chance at reducing the number of crystals forming.
Those with a quick freeze option on their freezer should use this if possible.
It’s best to not keep the cheese in there indefinitely, as that prolongs exposure to the cold which will impact the texture even further. Anywhere between 6-9 months is recommended for harder cheeses. For softer cheeses such as queso fresco, you want to allow less time.
How to defrost queso fresco
To thaw your cheese simply take it out of the freezer and place it into the fridge, still in its packaging.
It should take roughly 7-8 hours for the cheese to thaw depending on the amount, although defrosting the cheese overnight will allow for it to thoroughly defrost (and gives you ample time to meal prep!)
Make sure the cheese is fully thawed before attempting to use it. As mentioned earlier, your queso fresco when defrosted will have excess water where the ice crystals have now defrosted.
This may also leave your cheese with a grainy texture that would be noticeable when eating.
Make sure that any excess water is drained away from the cheese before using it, as this can change the taste.
Be sure to keep the queso fresco in the fridge at all times to ensure it does not go off. It’s best to use within a few days of defrosting.
It would not be wise to refreeze defrosted queso fresco. You are already going to notice a significant change to the cheese, and it may be inedible.
Refreezing will cause more ice crystals to form, leaving you with a very watery cheese that would be inedible. To avoid this, it’s best to eat the cheese fresh, or if you are risking freezing, try and only defrost as much as you need.
As is the advice with soft fresh cheeses, freezing is not always advised. There are ways you can do this, but it is important to remember that the texture will change and opt for harder cheeses if you wish to freeze any.
You can freeze your queso fresco cheese, but remember that there will be considerable changes to the texture and that it will need to be thoroughly defrosted before consuming to ensure your digestive safety.
Once opened, you will get two weeks of freshness from queso fresco if kept in a sealed container in your refrigerator. To avoid any watery, inedible cheese, it’s best to only buy what you can consume in this time period.