I just installed a 10’ X 10’ walk in freezer a few weeks ago and was wondering what the thoughts are of freezing diced cheese and the shelf life.
Here is a part of the Cheese article we did in PMQ. You can find the entire article at http://www.pmq.com/cheesey.shtml
Storage, Freezing and Thawing
Another important factor in the flavor of cheese is the manner in which it is stored. Cheese should be stored in airtight containers to protect the flavor and freshness. Optimal storage temperatures are between 42 and 50 degrees. While it can be frozen, there are certain characteristics that need to be noted about the properties of certain cheeses. First, cheese must be frozen quickly to prevent it from becoming crumbly. It doesn’t need to be freeze-dried or IQF frozen, but it doesn’t need to be placed in the freezer in large blocks because the inner core will take longer to freeze and will become, as I just mentioned, crumbly. If you get it in large blocks, it is best to cut it into 1-lb bricks no more than one-inch thick to ensure an even and more rapid freezing. Make sure to rewrap it to prevent moisture loss. You may want to consult your cheese supplier about the softer cheeses. If you do use cheese that has been or will be frozen, it is best to use low-moisture varieties or buy pre-frozen, pre-shredded or blended cheese. If the cheese develops mold, simply cut 1/4 - 1/2-inch below the mold and you’ll be OK, but if it is very moldy, in more than three or four spots, you will be better off to trash it.
Aged cheeses’ flavors are not affected by freezing because much of the moisture has been removed in the ripening process, but it can have a negative affect on the body and texture. A cheese that has been frozen slowly will be softer when thawed, harder to shred and will brown faster. Shelf life in the freezer is around 12 months and thawed is around 14 days. Older cheese will over-melt and become “soupy” when cooked. If you are going to use frozen cheese it is better to buy it already shredded and frozen.
There are certain guidelines to follow when thawing cheese, too. Always thaw cheese slowly in the refrigerator and never refreeze it. It may look uneven in color while frozen, but will return to its original color when completely thawed. Some of the soft and semi-soft cheeses can be shredded better when partially frozen, but they all need to be used as soon as possible after being thawed. Remember, cheese that is in a refrigerator will continue to ripen causing the flavor and performance to change, but cheese will cease to ripen as long as it is frozen.
Maybe it would be better use of the freezer to contact your sales rep about buying in on a large purchase of items that are already frozen.
At Pizza Hut their cheese comes in frozen, there is a three day thaw on it… sometimes four depending how it is stacked. Their cheese comes in cases of 15lbs. If you stack it no more than two high and one inch apart it will thaw in three days. Don’t ever use frozen cheese on pizzas as you will use more.
I have been freezing Sorrento whole milk blocks for a couple months. I froze about 200 cases. Has worked out really good.
If you do end up freezing your cheese, make sure it is totally thawed before using it. These days, with cheese prices, that last thing you want to do is waste cheese!