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Why Would I Freeze Dry Cheese
I love cheese. I just love it. And I refuse to go into any SHTF situation, even if it’s as mild as getting snowed in for the weekend without having enough cheese on hand. This goes for any and all cheese. I love cheddars, mozzarellas, brie, jacks, and cream cheese. There isn’t one I don’t love – even bleu cheese! I don’t even know if I can list them all! I can tell you I definitely want to freeze dry cheese so I always have some in my food storage.
Where we moved to, there’s a huge cheese factory up the highway. Apparently they have over 250 different kinds of cheeses. Guess what that means? I’m going to go shopping up there for more cheese to put into my food storage.
Cheese has a lot of value in your diet, as long as you aren’t lactose intolerant or anything like that. And in a situation where every calorie counts, cheese is a great food to have on hand.
Just imagine being able to cover your freeze dried burritos or freeze dried veggies with perfectly reconstituted freeze dried cheese. Even freeze dried potatoes taste delicious with some extra cheese! Seriously, it’s amazing. I love it on my omelets made with freeze dried ingredients.
What Is Freeze Dried Cheese?
Well, put shortly, it’s heaven. But if you’re not asking for that definition, then I’ll put it this way. Freeze dried cheese is literally cheese that has had all of the moisture removed through a process called lyophilization to keep the cheese in food storage for a long period of time.
Standard cheese stays good for about 6 months in the freezer, shorter in the fridge. I don’t know about you, but I need cheese longer than that.
How Long Does Freeze Dried Cheese Last?
So far, the cheese I’ve opened up from 5 years ago is still phenomenal. Every year I test one from the first summer I started freeze drying. I test a lot of things to make sure they’re still edible and to make sure that, at least for me, I’m giving good information. A lot of people toss around times like 25 years, 20 years, 10 years, but honestly, you need to keep in mind what kind of cheese it is, how is it stored, how was it prepared, how long has it been already, and more.
So, for me, so far, it’s gone 5 years and counting. I’m going to see just how far I can push it. I have 29 bags from my first year that I’m opening every year. I’ll keep you updated as I go.
How Do You Prepare Cheese To Freeze Dry It?
My favorite is shredded for reconstituting it in recipes and other meals. I like to put it over my burritos, veggies, and omelets like I stated above, but I also like to eat freeze dried cheese as a snack. So for that purpose, I’ll cube it. I LOVE it cubed. I know people who slice it, but I don’t love that. It doesn’t make sense to me to just do one thin layer on the tray, even if you’re separating and layering the slices. But to each their own.
Below you can see how it’s been thoroughly shredded using a food processor.
I always prefreeze my foods. This is just something I do and it’s not a requirement for cheese. I prep my trays way out in advance and like to have 3 loads ready and waiting for when the next one finishes. This is a personal preference and nothing you HAVE to do. The cheese in these shredded pictures is sharp cheddar.
How Much Cheese Can I Freeze Dry At A Time
Below in these trays you can see how much I’ve loaded them. They’re packed in pretty well on the trays, but not pressed in. Just loaded well. I like to get as much done as possible.
In these trays, there are about 3 lbs per tray. However, if you’re going according to the suggestions of Harvest Right, you’ll want to stick to:
- Small Freeze Dryer – 1-1.5 lbs per tray
- Medium Freeze Dryer – 1.5-2 lbs per tray
- Large Freeze Dryer – 2-2.5 lbs per tray
How Do I Know If My Cheese Is Finished Freeze Drying?
Besides the temperature check – definitely recommend pulling them out when they’re warm. This is a great indicator if your product is finished. Check this post for more information.
Cheese though also has a certain look – it takes on a crusty look. Below you can see how the sharp cheddar that has been cubed looks almost like it’s more of a marbled Monterey Jack style cheese. I can assure you, though, it’s not. It started out as vibrant as the cheese in the pictures above. If you look close enough, you can see some of the cubes have splits and cracks from being dried.
What Kind Of Cheese Can I Freeze Dry?
I want to say all cheese can be freeze dried, however, that’s not really what you’re asking, is it. You’re wondering what the best cheeses are for freeze drying. I’ve done cream cheese, sour cream, and cottage cheese. They all turn out awesome.
I’ve done blocks that I’ve prepared with shredding and cubing myself and I’ve done the preshredded cheese from the bulk stores.
For the most productive loads, I prefer shredded and cubed.
Fastest and easiest, I do the preshredded from the stores.
Best flavor, I recommend doing them yourselves. Tillamook is my favorite cheese.
Below, the tray is only half-filled with a Fiesta cheese mix. This freeze dries well and stores nicely too. The small shreds leave more room in the books and you can get almost an entire tray into one quart mylar bag. If you know me, you know I’m all about getting the most done with the least amount of effort. And I have NO shame in that.
Psst. The below picture shows you just how high I go with my stuff. I push the limits of what my tray will hold.
HOW DO I FREEZE DRY CHEESE?
Many people think it’s next to impossible to do the freeze drying for themselves. This is far from factual. Freeze drying at home is made easy by Harvest Right. They sell three different sizes of freeze-drying machines that do everything in the machine – except prep and package.
That’s up to you.
For all intents and purposes, here at Freeze Drying Mama we use the medium sized freeze dryer. You can check out the sizes offered at Harvest Right here.
What this machine does is first freeze the items on stainless steel trays to -41 degrees or lower. This takes about 10 hours or so.
Then a vacuum pump turns on and creates a vacuum inside the drum. This is the drying stage and will vacillate the heat of the tray up and down to a pretty warm temperature. This makes the frozen items release any water in them in vapor form. The vacuum sucks the moisture to the drum. This collects in ice form on the inner circle of the drum.
Then there’s the final dry which is essentially the same thing, but with a time associated with it and an end in sight!
WHAT SETTINGS DO I USE TO FREEZE DRY CHEESE?
On the Harvest Right freeze drier – this works on all sizes – after putting the trays inside the drum on the shelves, I put in the drum cover (if you don’t have a drum cover, no worries) and then tighten the handle as I lock it shut. On the computer touch screen, I selected START > LIQUID > NOT-FROZEN > CONTINUE. After inputting the settings and making sure my drain tube is closed, I walk away.
COMMON QUESTIONS AROUND FREEZE DRYING CHEESE
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO FREEZE DRY CHEESE?
I have a habit of saying it’s going to take as long as it takes, because it’s true. Mine typically take about 36 hours (shredded – but that was back in Idaho). I live in Missouri now and things are supposed to be a whole lot more humid. The times haven’t changed much since we got here, though, so I’ll update you as needed. This also depends on how you do your cheese. I’ve found the discs freeze dry faster than the thickly stacked shredded zucchini. So, long answer short – it’s going to take as long as it takes.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO STORE FREEZE DRIED CHEESE?
Oh, I love this question. Ultimately, I love mylar bags. They’re my favorite way to store anything freeze dried, but a lot of people make great cases for mason jars. As long as you have the item completely freeze dried and stored in a lightless, airless, air tight container with an O2 absorber, your item will be just fine.
How Do I Reconstitute Freeze Dried Cheese?
Oh, there are so many ways. The BEST way is by putting it into the dishes you’re going to make and letting the moisture of the other foods reconstitute into the cheese. You can do this with almost anything – lasagna, omelets, soups, casseroles, and more. I even use the mozzarella cheese to do chaffles for my keto lifestyle. Essentially, there’s soooo much you can do with your freeze dried cheese.
Check out what other’s say about Freeze Drying Cheese