Bought a few too many packages of cheese sticks and need to store them for the long term? That’s when you asked yourself: “can you freeze string cheese?”
Or maybe your mozzarella cheese sticks are nearing their date, and you need to extend their shelf life for at least a couple of weeks?
I have good news for you: you can freeze string cheese, and there isn’t much downside to doing so. Cheese sticks freeze well and look and taste perfectly fine after thawing.
In this article, I write about the American variety of string cheese, which is snack-sized sticks of mozzarella. There’s a bunch of photos below, so making sure I talk about the same thing that you have shouldn’t be an issue.
In this article, I share everything I know (after doing it myself) about freezing this dairy product, including:
- Freezing effects on string cheese, including photos and video
- How to freeze cheese sticks (hint: it takes only a minute or two)
- Thawing frozen mozzarella sticks: how to go about it and how long it takes
Interested? Let’s get started.
Can You Freeze String Cheese?
Yes, you can freeze string cheese. You might notice a slight difference in taste, and the texture might end up a bit more crumbly, but overall it freezes really well.
I tested freezing this dairy product, and neither my wife nor I could tell a frozen-and-thawed stick from a fresh one.
In terms of appearance, there’s no difference at all. Here’s how fresh and frozen and thawed cheese sticks compare:
One caveat here is that in the package I bought, every stick is individually wrapped. And, of course, I didn’t remove that wrap before tossing the cheese in the freezer.
Here’s how such cheese sticks look like:
Such wrap protects the cheese from freezer temperature well and pretty much guarantees good results of freezing.
If your mozzarella sticks aren’t single-wrapped, or you already unwrapped the stick(s) you’re about to freeze, your results might be a bit worse than mine.
String cheese usually keeps for at least a week past its date. If you plan on eating it within the next few days anyway, you probably don’t need to freeze it.
How come string cheese freezes so well?
String cheese is basically low moisture mozzarella (and you can freeze mozzarella, in case you didn’t know). And in the case of dairy products, the more water the product contains, the worse it usually freezes.
So since string cheese is a low-moisture cheese, it freezes well. Here’s a cheese stick after freezing and defrosting, still as bendable as a fresh one:
All in all, if you’re afraid that your string cheese will go bad, freezing is a great way to prolong its shelf life. And it doesn’t come at a cost.
How To Freeze String Cheese?
Freezing string cheese is super simple.
If your sticks are single-wrapped, you don’t even need any equipment. If not, a freezer bag is all you need.
Here’s the process:
- Wrap your mozzarella sticks. If your sticks are individually wrapped, that’s already done for you. Otherwise, place them in a freezer bag and squeeze out the air before sealing, or wrap with aluminum foil. If you expect the sticks might sit in the freezer for months on end, an extra layer of protection could come useful – put everything into another freezer bag.
- Freeze. Transfer everything into the freezer. If you like, add a label with the name and date on the package.
That’s it. Making it happen takes about as long as reading the instructions above.
How Long Can You Freeze Mozzarella Sticks?
Try to use the frozen sticks within 2 to 3 months. The sooner you eat them, the better the quality.
Be wary of people telling you that you should eat the frozen string cheese within a certain period, like a month or three months. It’s not like it’s going to suddenly spoil in the freezer or something.
Generally speaking, frozen foods stay safe in the freezer indefinitely, assuming that you have no power outages. And string cheese is no different.
The only issue with prolonged freezer storage is that the quality of the food gradually decreases.
Therefore, the quality of string cheese frozen for a month will be better than that of one that’s frozen for three months. But the difference shouldn’t be that big, and you should be happy about the results if you use the sticks within the mentioned 2 to 3 months.
How quickly your frozen mozzarella sticks lose quality depends on how tightly the cheese is wrapped. Producer-wrapped ones should keep quality better than those that you wrap yourself.
How To Defrost String Cheese
Here are some options that you have when you need to defrost your frozen cheese sticks.
In the fridge
4 to 5 hours in the fridge should be enough for a frozen cheese stick to thaw.
If you want to speed things up a bit, place the cheese in a bowl of lukewarm water. That should shorten the thawing time to about 2 to 3 hours tops.
On the counter
While thawing dairy products at room temperature generally isn’t recommended, I think it’s an okayish option for defrosting string cheese.
If you leave the stick on the counter, it should defrost and get back to about room temperature within an hour or so. It all depends on the size, of course.
The main problem with defrosting on the counter is that the food stays at a fairly high temperature for a long (2+ hours) period. If thawing takes less than an hour, it shouldn’t be a big deal.
If you go with this method, eat the defrosted stick right after it’s ready.
Again, the fridge is the best option for defrosting string cheese, and you should prioritize it whenever possible.
That’s it. Freezing and thawing string cheese is a straightforward process, and there isn’t much that can go wrong. If you need to freeze the leftovers from your package, go ahead and do it.