Cream cheese is a versatile and delicious staple in any kitchen. We love it on our bagels. And who doesn’t enjoy the famous New York-style cheesecake? No one will dispute that the texture and flavor add so much to any recipe. We have so many delicious recipes with cream cheese to choose from.
If you love this product then you might want to stock up, which you can since cream cheese has a long shelf life of 3-4 weeks beyond the printed sale date. If you are a cream cheese lover and want an ample stock of cream cheese on hand you may be asking yourself if you can freeze cream cheese. The simple answer is yes.
The shelf life of cream cheese can be extended by freezing it. Just keep in mind that when you thaw out cream cheese, its texture is typically crumbly. This texture does not interfere with its usability in most recipes. There is even a hack to fix the consistency if you wish.
Before you freeze, a few preparation steps are necessary to prolong its freshness. First, when you go shopping grab the cream cheese last, just before you are ready to check out. The longer it remains in the refrigeration section the longer you preserve its freshness.
Second, when you bring them home you want to immediately store them in the refrigerator at 40°F or lower. Sealed refrigerated cream cheese retains its freshness for up to one month following the indicated sell-by date.
Ideally, you want to freeze the cream cheese right away. If you keep the cream cheese in the refrigerator, letting it remain past the sell-by date, and then freeze it, you will find that the quality of your cream cheese will diminish when it has been thawed later.
When the cream cheese is removed from the freezer and not used immediately, you reset its usual refrigeration shelf life.
It is a valuable skill to know how to freeze cream cheese safely. It is also important to know how to correctly thaw out the frozen cream cheese. When cream cheese is properly frozen you extend its freshness and usability.
Freeze or thaw this product incorrectly and you have an unusable product. All your time, effort, money, as well as freezer space, would be all for nothing.
Refrigerated cream cheese can be stored for several weeks or even months. Frozen cream cheese can last up to 6 months.
We are going to cover, step-by-step, the most efficient and safe manner to freeze and thaw cream cheese. You will find that your thawed cream cheese will be on par with those you buy fresh at the grocery store.
This way you can have even more cream cheese in stock for your baking needs.
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How to Freeze Cream Cheese
The airtight packaging that houses cream cheese at the store will give you a head start in achieving the best protection against freezer burn. Keep the cream cheese in both its foil packaging as well as the box.
To maximize protecting the cream cheese while it remains in the freezer you might want to use freezer-safe zipper storage bags or plastic wrap. If you do then remove the cream cheese box, leaving it in the foil wrapping.
When you place the cream cheese in the storage bag or plastic wrap be certain you remove all excess air. You want to prevent ice crystal formation.
Never remove the foil. Its primary function is to protect the cream cheese. It also aids in extending shelf life.
To assure freshness after thawing, you want to label each package with a final use-by date. Put labels on each package. Write down with a marker the date you put the cream cheese into the freezer. Then you can gauge the maximum time period between the day you put it in the freezer and the sell-by date.
Allow only a very small time frame between the day of purchase and when you place the cream cheese into the freezer. This small window will give maximum quality when you thaw the cream cheese to be ready for baking.
All of this preparation will make the difference between a thawed cream cheese that retains its quality and one that is not palatable after it is thawed.
The fact that you can freeze cream cheese is the best news! Now let’s talk about thawing.
How to Thaw and Use Frozen Cream Cheese
If you’re not in a rush to thaw your cream cheese, it can sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours and it will be ready. For an express thaw put it in a sealed storage bag. Place the bag into a bowl of warm water.
Change out the water as it cools. Turn the cream cheese over every time you replace the water to ensure even thawing. A small weight on top will keep the cream cheese submerged in the water.
Remember that thawed cream cheese becomes crumbly. For recipes that call for melted cream cheese, the texture will not matter.
If you need to restore its creamy texture, here is how.
How to Make Frozen Cream Cheese Creamy Again
Don’t feel discouraged when your thawed cream cheese comes out crumbly. You have two options that will bring back that desired creamy consistency.
The Microwave Method
Once your cream cheese is fully thawed put it in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 10 seconds, stir and repeat this process until it is creamy.
Note: If you overheat and/or do not thoroughly mix the cream cheese there may be dried cream cheese along the edges.
The stovetop method is preferable to many because there is more control over the heating process. Unlike with the microwave, the sides of the cream cheese will not become dry and hard.
Use a double boiler or a large glass bowl sitting in a medium saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water so the bowl does not touch the bottom.
After boiling the water, unwrap the cream cheese and put it into the double boiler or large glass bowl. Stir constantly until smooth.
The refrigerator shelf life of thawed cream cheese in an airtight container is between 3 to 7 days after opening.
It’s a good practice to place thawed cream cheese in an airtight container immediately after you open the foil wrapping. Once the foil is open it no longer provides an airtight seal.
Remember that bacteria thrive rapidly in moist environments. Your cream cheese should not be kept out at room temperature for more than 1-2 hours maximum.
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