Cream cheese is a dairy product made from milk and cream. It is well known for its use in bagels, cheesecakes, and other baked goods. Cream cheese may be frozen to extend the shelf-life of the product. Generally speaking, it can be frozen after opening if it will not be used within 30 days. Place the cream cheese in an airtight container or freezer bag to prevent freezer burn when stored in the freezer.
Cream cheese freezing process
The freezing process changes the texture and consistency of cream cheese somewhat; however, this does not detract from its usability when appropriately thawed for later use. Although freezing causes some change in taste and texture, it does not affect nutritional value significantly. To freeze properly, unopened cream cheese can be kept in the freezer for up to six months. After being opened, it should not be put back into the freezer more than 30 days before use.
Cream cheese that has been frozen may have some water or liquid separation on the top of its container. Thawing cream cheese at room temperature will cause condensation to form on both the top and bottom of the container, resulting in the possible mixing of these liquids when reincorporating them with fresh cream cheese. This does not negatively affect the taste or texture; however, if this reflects poorly on your personal opinion about how cream cheese should look/flavor, you can always place it in the refrigerator overnight after thawing to reform a smoother consistency (if desired).
How to Freeze Opened Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is one of those items that doesn’t do so well when frozen. Cream cheese has high moisture and fat content because it’s meant to be soft and spreadable. When you freeze something like this, the water begins forming ice crystals, which causes large pieces of creamy cheese to form. We don’t recommend freezing cream cheese because once you thaw it and try to use it for cooking or baking, there will be lumps and bumps in the sauce or batter (not good!). Because of this reason, we recommend storing the entire package in the refrigerator, not just opened boxes.
If you want to freeze cream cheese, we recommend shredding it first and adding it to a casserole while still frozen (such as lasagna or baked ziti). You may need to stir the dish more frequently while baking because of the lumps. Allowing frozen cream cheese to thaw before adding it will result in chunks throughout your dish. We don’t suggest freezing any cream cheese spread; what we call “cream cheese spreads” are much thicker than traditional cream cheese and therefore much better suited for spreading on bagels and crackers.
So what happens when you freeze cream cheese?
It doesn’t last any longer than if you didn’t freeze it. Since cream cheese is high in fat, it will start going bad a little faster when exposed to air. As long as the opened package of cream cheese has been properly sealed and wrapped securely, it will last for about a month after being opened – so freezing won’t help increase its life span at all.