Cream cheese is one of the most commonly consumed soft cheeses. It is used in many cheese recipes, such as cheesecakes, frosting, dips, bread, bagels, crackers, etc. It was introduced way back in 1872, in New York State, and today it is commonly sold under one of the most recognized brand names 'Philadelphia'. It is a sweet, creamy white cheese, which contains minimum 33% milk fat with a moisture or water content of not more than 55%. Unlike other cheeses, which undergo an aging process, this type of cheese is prepared by combining cream and cow's milk, and it is also not matured or hardened. In fact, it is unripened and usually contains emulsifiers, which provide firmness and longer shelf life.
A typical cream cheese has a mild, fresh tasting, sweet, and slightly tangy flavor; however, many flavored versions are now available, containing flavors of fruits, herbs, etc. Now, let us move on to find out whether one can freeze dips, icing, or frosting made from this type of cheese.
Is it Possible to Freeze Cream Cheese?
Cream cheese is non-aged with an extremely soft texture, and has a tendency to resort back to its former state, when frozen. As a result, the milk solids turn crumbly, and the moisture content or water separates from the milk. Hence, it is generally believed that freezing it can actually change the texture of the cheese, making it more grainy, crumbly, and depriving it of its creamy and smooth texture. Though the cheese to some extent loses its soft creamy texture, it can still be used in different recipes, if defrosted completely.
It might be difficult to use thawed cream cheese as a spreading on a bagel or bread, but it can be used in recipes like cheesecakes where the texture does not matter much. In fact, once it is thawed and mixed with other ingredients of a particular recipe, it will bring out the same soft, creamy flavor, and texture with no ill effects. Hence, if frozen properly and for the right period of time, there is hardly any change in the texture, as well as the taste of the final dish it is used in. An unopened package can be refrigerated at a temperature between 35 and 40°F for one hour or so, while an opened package should be refrigerated at a temperature between 35 and 40°F for not more than 10 days.
How to Freeze It?
The best way to restore the original, soft, and creamy texture is to freeze it in its original packaging. You can also cover the box with a freezer paper, and place it in an airtight plastic bag, squeezing out most of the air before sealing. Keep the cream cheese and dips made from it, on the middle shelf of the freezer, with the temperature somewhere between 35 and 40°F. As said before, for an unopened packet, you can freeze it for a month or so, and for an opened packet, avoid keeping it in the freezer for more than 10 days or so. However, use it before the recommended time. Another important point to be considered is to preferably purchase cream cheese which is high in fat content, as low-fat ones tend to fare badly when thawed.
To maintain the same creamy texture, even after freezing, or to use your frozen cream cheese for spreading, combine whipping cream with it before freezing, and then whip it with a mixer after thawing, to get it back to a creamy state. Basically, the fat in the whipping cream works as a bonding agent during the freezing period, which helps in restoring the creamy texture.