Goat is a very popular livestock animal though somewhat underrated. They are not as populous as cattle, pigs and chicken but they are widespread livestock animals. Goats are of course reared for meat, skins and milk. One of the most popular goat products is goat cheese which you are likely to have consumed even if you have not tasted goat meat. With over 100 varieties of goat milk cheese out there you’d be forgiven for not being able to name many. Halloumi, feta and kefalotiri are examples of cheese that include goat milk that you may already be familiar with. With goat milk cheeses having different composition to cow’s milk cheeses we are used to you may have wondered if you can freeze goat cheese.
What Is Goat Cheese?
Goat cheese is any cheese that is made using completely or in part the milk of goats. There are over 100 varieties of goat milk cheese across the world. Goat cheese is popularly known as chevre, which is French for goat, while there are popular cheeses like feta and halloumi which are a mix of sheep and goats milk. Goat milk is slightly higher in fat and lower in lactose than cow’s milk. Goat milk, however, has higher levels of fatty acids and in the process of making the cheeses they tend to develop a tart flavour compared to cow’s milk cheeses. Now to the question of if you can freeze goat cheese.
Can You Freeze Goat Cheese?
The short answer is yes. However, it is not as simple as chucking a block of goat cheese in the freezer and checking on it two months later. There are a few things you will want to be mindful of when freezing goat cheeses. The issue of freezer burn is first and foremost as it may affect cheese more than one would think. You will notice that as you heat goat cheeses they become soft but do not melt like cow cheeses, this has to do with the proteins in the cheeses and how they behave with different temperatures. Many goat cheeses are brined so they are either stored in brine to keep them soft or have their blocks brushed with brine to harden the outside. Those with hard rinds are not necessarily hard cheeses. This is something you will also need to be cognisant of.
Before You Freeze It
There are a few precautions you will want to take before freezing any goat cheese. Firstly you will need to inspect the cheese for signs of discolouring or mould. If it has any you are better of throwing out the cheese. Check the smell of the cheese as well. While cheese is famed for having sometimes strong smells what you do not want is a smell that is anywhere near bitter or fermenting. You can also do a taste test just to make sure. If the cheese is already bad or in the process of going bad freezing it isn’t going to do much for you.
Freezing Goat Cheese Blocks
This is not the ideal way to store your goat cheese but it may appeal to some. Freezing as blocks does have the advantage of being easier. The size of the blocks is what is critical. It is best to cut the goat cheese into blocks which you are confident you will use within 5 days of thawing. This will help you get the freshest taste and texture from your goat cheese. Wrap the blocks of goat cheese individually in cling wrap or plastic wrap. Make sure that each block is wrapped tightly and that there are no gaps for air to get through. Place the blocks inside a resealable freezer bag, preferably heavy duty. If you have a vacuum sealer this will be better to use to seal the freezer bag. If you do not have a vacuum sealer you can push out the air and use a straw to suck out the excess air. Now label the freezer bag with the date you packaged the cheese or the date of expiration which is 6 months from the date of freezing. Your goat cheese will keep safely in this way.
Freezing Goat Cheese Spread
If you have a goat cheese spread or a soft variety of goat cheese you will want to take care when freezing it because of the softer texture. To maintain that texture you will want to avoid exposure to air just like with block goat cheese but the method is a little different for soft goat cheese. First things first if the container for your soft goat cheese or spread is unopened then simply freeze as-is. If your container is opened then you will have to remove the cheese from the container. Roll the cheese into a ball and make it as round as possible. Now wrap the ball with cling wrap. If you have a lot of it it may be wise to split it into two or three balls. You will have to wrap the ball around many times to make sure there are no gaps. Once this is done pop into a freezer bag. Same rules apply as freezing goat cheese blocks so either use a vacuum sealer or a straw to suck out the air. You will also get a similar storage duration out of soft goat cheeses of 6 months so label the freezer bag appropriately.
Thawing Goat Cheese
You’ve frozen your goat cheese and now you need to thaw it. The best way to thaw goat cheese whether block or soft is in the refrigerator. You will need 24 hours lead time to do this successfully. After this, your cheese should be ready to use. If you have a time crunch you can defrost it in the microwave using the regular defrost setting. Run the microwave in 10-second intervals and check after each interval. This is where freezing your cheese in small sizes comes in handy.
You can freeze goat cheese and keep it for around 6 months. You will need plastic wrap, a freezer bag and a vacuum sealer to get the best results. If your goat cheese is in blocks you can cut it into smaller blocks. If you have a soft goat cheese it is best to roll the cheese into balls. When thawing frozen goat cheese it is best to use your refrigerator overnight.