Freezing is the most popular among various food preservation methods - You just need to shove the item into the refrigerator and forget it till you need it hours or days later. But all your kitchen time, you noticed textural roughness, hardening and degradation of taste freezing causes to some foods, which made you precautious about freezing any leftovers to the extent that you always make sure whether it's the right method to preserve specific items.
Let us suppose that like any other normal day, you have saved some fresh cottage cheese after mealtime. Cottage cheese needs to retain its smooth, creamy texture to satisfy your taste buds and it has a very short shelf life. Also, it's not cheap enough to throw away easily. So you must be wondering whether freezing would help preserve this as well.
The question is, can you freeze cottage cheese? The answer, to everyone's relief, is 'Yes', but only if done properly.
How To Freeze Cottage Cheese
We'll be discussing some effective methods to freeze cottage cheese.
1. Using Muslin Cloth
The main influence of freezing upon foods is dehydration i.e. elimination of moisture which helps bacteria and other microorganisms breed. The water content in the food item freezes and gets crystallized, causing a granular, flaky texture when shredded. When thawed, the cheese loses its softness and taste. Lest this happens, the water content in the cottage cheese needs to be secured. As far as microbes are concerned, low temperature is enough to avoid them.
You will need:
- Muslin cloth
- Bowl filled with water
* Soak the Muslin cloth with water and wrap it around the block of cottage cheese, sealing it completely.
The freezer shall dry up only the Muslin cloth, saving the moisture in the cheese. You may keep wetting the Muslin cloth exterior after a set time interval to preserve the cottage cheese for long.
2. Using Tupperware, Zip-lock or any such non-permeable container
An airtight container would help in locking the moisture around the cottage cheese, preventing the water content in it to freeze and crystallize due to partial insulation by the air that's locked in. The locking of air would also prevent cottage cheese absorbing odors of adjacent foods. If you get your hands upon a sealable plastic bag, you may squeeze out as much air as possible. This should prevent the formation of ice crystals. This method is guaranteed to extend the life of cottage cheese up to 6 months.
You will need:
- Airtight container or plastic pack (Might be the same container you bought the cottage cheese inside)
- Permanent Marker
* Seal the cottage cheese in air-tight plastic bag and keep it in the freezer. With your permanent marker, write the date of sealing somewhere on it so that you may easily guess how long the cottage cheese has been in the freezer and if it is still usable at a future date.
How To Thaw Frozen Cottage Cheese
The cottage cheese, when taken out of the freezer days later, may have a nodular texture and be hardened. The formation of mold, a watery liquid, would occur on its surface. You may use these tricks to retain the texture of cottage cheese while thawing.
1. Mix some sour cream. This will make cottage cheese look less drier.
2. Drain any excess liquid.
* The high-fat, full curd cottage cheese is preferred for freezing over the low fat versions. The creamier the texture, the worse it looks and tastes after freezing. So, if you are freezing cottage cheese to get the desired texture to be used in casseroles and lasagne, use cheese with more fat and less creaminess.
* Once you thaw the cheese, you may find it having a strange texture and loss of taste. Adding sour cream should restore the texture. To improve the taste of frozen cottage cheese, you may add some salt to it. To thicken it, add cornstarch.
* Often, due to the crystallization of water content, the ice crystals so formed expand and tear their way out through the structure of cheese, causing it to lose texture and dry out. This is known as "Freezer Burn". It is prevented by reducing crystallization of water content as much as possible, quite effectively done by the above methods.
* Dairy products are not recommended to be frozen beyond six months. After this time, the cheese loses its quality to a great measure once it is thawed.
* If you intend to use some portion of cottage cheese kept in the freezer, you may take out the portion, store it inside a container and place the container inside the refrigerator. This small container of cheese must be ready to use for about 24 hours of placing it in.
* Thawed cheese is good for 3-4 days and must not be refrozen.
* If your cottage cheese has turned yellow, become damp and got a sour taste and smell, it is no longer safe to use.
So, if you wish to save money by purchasing cottage cheese in bulk during sale and are unsure of how to preserve the excess, or you have a lot of unused cheese after supper and wish it could be used later, then sit back on your chairs and rest assured that cottage cheese can be frozen and used up to six months.