Parmigiano Reggiano is a classic hard cheese that pairs perfectly with virtually any Italian dish. However, unlike other cheeses, the preparation can range from cubes and slices to shredded and grated varieties. For those folks who are wondering “can you freeze grated parmesan cheese?”, we have information to help you cheese the day!
Grated parmesan cheese should be stored in the freezer for no longer than three to six months. In order to achieve the longest storage times, it is important to first flash freeze the cheese. Then, store it in either freezer-safe ziplock bags or vacuum seal bags.
Additionally, make sure to portion out your servings. Regular exposure to air, light, and temperatures above zero degrees Fahrenheit will cause it to spoil sooner.
- Grated Versus Shredded Cheese
- Prepackaged Versus Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
- How To Properly Freeze Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Health Benefits Of Parmesan Cheese
- Final Thoughts
- Related Guides
Grated Versus Shredded Cheese
While these words are many times used interchangeably, cheese experts will tell you that there is a big distinction between shredded versus grated parmesan cheese. “A shredded item appears like long strips while a grated item appears like tiny fragments to the point of being powdery in nature.
[Additionally,] shredding produces smoother shreds as opposed to a grating which usually creates uneven, grated products. [Finally,] shredded items normally cook or melt slower than grated ones.”
Prepackaged Versus Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
Grated Parmesan Cheese
There is nothing quite like the freshly grated parmesan cheese that Italian restaurants offer their patrons with every meal. This finely powdered cheesy goodness is the perfect accent to pasta dishes. If you want to cut out the prep work and make your meal times quick and easy, one simple way to elongate the life of your cheese is to freeze it!
Parmesan is considered a hard cheese, which means that it has less moisture content due to the extensive aging process. This is why this cheese has almost a dry and crumbly texture.
This characteristic makes it an ideal product for freezer storage. Conversely, soft cheeses like ricotta and cottage cheese will fare badly due to the high amount of liquid in the product.
Grate Your Own Parmesan Cheese With Two Easy Methods
If you choose to grate your own parmesan cheese, you can do this manually with a grater or you can generate large quantities with a food processor. If you choose the latter method, simply remove the rinds, chop your parmesan cheese into cubes and throw the small chunks into the food processor. Then, let it run for about five minutes.
The longer the time frame, the finer the pieces will be for your dishes. You can store this in the fridge in a sealed container for approximately one month. However, after a week it will begin to lose the “fresh” taste.
Prepackaged Grated Parmesan Cheese
When purchasing grated parmesan cheese from the store, expect it to have another main ingredient — cellulose. This natural additive is the fiber found in the various plants that people consume every day.
The purpose is to prevent the cheese from caking or clumping. You may also see it labeled as cellulose gum or dietary fiber on the ingredients list.
This actually makes this variety of cheese better for cold storage. “Food gums can help keep foods and beverages stable so nutrients remain mixed, ensure that oil and water-based ingredients don’t separate, and help produce a consistent texture that consumers expect from certain foods. […] It is particularly effective at slowing the formation of ice crystals, which lead to freezer burn.”
This is why it is also a regular ingredient in ice cream and other products that are intended to remain frozen. Thus, prepackaged grated parmesan will bode quite well in the freezer and will be ready to freeze whenever you deem it necessary.
How To Properly Freeze Grated Parmesan Cheese
Whether you choose to make it fresh or purchase your parm already prepared, the freezing process will remain the same. First, always freeze your cheese prior to its ‘Best By’ date. Second, before beginning step #1, either grab your excess store-bought park or grate your block of parmesan cheese using one of the two aforementioned methods.
Step #1: Flash Freeze The Grated Parmesan Cheese
First, take a baking sheet and line it with wax paper. Next, sprinkle an even layer of grated parmesan cheese across the surface of the tray. Make sure that it is not too thick so that the cheese will freeze quickly. This is imperative for preserving the texture and flavor of this sharp and nutty cheese.
Then, slide the baking sheet into the freezer and leave it until frozen. Thankfully, with grated products, this time frame only requires a few hours due to the low density of the individual pieces.
Step #2: Prepare For Long Term Storage
Once frozen, it is important to determine your intended use. Will you be using this portion of frozen grated parmesan cheese all at once? Do you hope to use smaller portions over time?
Remember that in order to achieve optimal storage, it is always best to keep the food at a consistent zero degrees Fahrenheit. Thus, if you want to use individual portions over time, then package it as such.
Option #1: Freezer Safe Ziplock Bag
The first storage option is to place the newly frozen parm in freezer-safe ziplock bags. Take care to remove as much air as possible. Finally, label with the initial flash freeze date and store in the freezer for three to six months.
Option #2: Vacuum Seal
If you have access to a vacuum sealer, this is a fantastic option for freezing a multitude of products, including parmesan cheese. Simply place the flash-frozen grated parm in the vacuum bag and seal it. Again, label the packages and freeze them for up to six months.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is the preferred method of storage because it prevents the instance of oxidation. When food is exposed to air, it can lead to the development of rancid flavors. This method removes the chance of this occurring, in turn, also reducing the instance of freezer burn.
Step #3: Add A Second Protective Layer [OPTIONAL]
If you are aiming for extended storage times, consider blocking out the light! This can be accomplished by adding a tight layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil to the outside of the ziplock bags or vacuum seal bags.
Why is this important? According to the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “light exposure could result in color and vitamin loss. Light also may be responsible for the oxidation of fats.” More specifically, this can diminish the amount of riboflavin in milk products.
Step #4: Thaw Out Grated Parmesan Cheese
When it comes to defrosting your cheese, the University of Florida notes that “it’s best to allow it to thaw for at least 24 to 48 hours in the fridge. This will allow the moisture (which becomes frost when it’s frozen) to go back into the cheese.”
They also recommend using the cheese promptly after it has been defrosted. In contrast, if you are using the cheese for a recipe that requires baking, then defrosting is not a necessary step if you took the time to measure out individual portions.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Always check for spoilage prior use. Parmesan has an extremely low moisture content, so if stored properly this instance is not likely. However, it is still something to watch out for, especially since the mold can sometimes be white. If you have frozen blocks of parmesan cheese to grate at a later time and you find blue, green or white spots, cut a one-inch perimeter around the mold spot and discard.
Health Benefits Of Parmesan Cheese
Many people think of parmesan simply as a garnish on Cesar salads and pasta dishes. However, this ingredient is loaded with protein and brimming with vitamins and minerals. More specifically, one ounce has over a quarter of your daily value of calcium as well as a hefty helping of phosphorus, zinc, vitamins A, B2, and B12, and selenium.
Moreover, it is low in fat and almost completely lactose-free! This is an amazing quality for those individuals who do not have the ability to break down this type of sugar found in milk.
Note: Moderation is the Key!
The only caveat with eating this product is that it is extremely high in sodium. Thus, those with high blood pressure or issues with their heart health should limit their consumption. However, in moderation, this can be a healthy and delicious item to add to your regular diet!
If you choose to buy the mega-sized container of Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese, you can freeze the entire container, if it remains unopened. Kraft vacuum seals their grated cheese. Therefore, it will help to keep the additional moisture out.
However, it will not prevent the moisture from the cheese in the container from separating. When you freeze large quantities of cheese slowly, there is a risk of large ice crystals forming in the powdered cheese mixture. This will lead to drastic changes in the consistency and taste of the product. Thus, flash freezing on a baking sheet is always best.
Heidi is a wife, mother, Newfie owner, writer and Meteorologist. She was born and raised in Texas and has worked in the broadcast industry for over a decade.