With its slightly sweet and nutty flavors, mascarpone cheese is a popular choice for a variety of recipes. But it also has a delicate texture. So can you freeze mascarpone without sacrificing its signature, creamy softness?
Mascarpone cheese is one of those incredibly versatile ingredients that be used to enhance both sweet and savory dishes.
Use this soft cheese in desserts like tiramisu, as a substitute for whipped cream, or as a topping for fruit. Or add it to creamy pasta sauce to give it a velvety texture. You can even swap it out for the sauce on your favorite pizzas.
But what if you have some mascarpone that you need to store long-term? Can you freeze mascarpone and retain its delicate creaminess?
Yes, you can freeze mascarpone cheese — and it should keep for up to three months. But you’ll want to be careful when defrosting it so you retain its smooth texture as much as possible.
Read on to find out the right way to freeze mascarpone — and how to thaw it out properly.
What is mascarpone cheese?
Mascarpone is a silky, sweet cow’s cheese that originated in Italy roughly 500 years ago. Its high fat content gives it a velvety, creamy texture that makes it easily spreadable and ideal for adding richness to other foods.
This delicious cheese is made by combining tartaric acid with fresh cream, which causes it to thicken into curds. Those curds then get slowly heated until they reach a soft, creamy consistency. Then the final product is drained of any excess liquid.
While it’s fairly easy to make at home, you can also find it at most grocery stores. So this creamy cheese is a snap to use it in your favorite dishes!
How do you freeze mascarpone?
While many dairy products do not freeze and defrost well, mascarpone is a bit different. Its high fat and water content helps mascarpone freeze better than most cheeses.
To do it, just follow these simple steps:
Step 1 – Make sure your mascarpone isn’t separated before you freeze it or that could affect the texture. If it is, the first thing you want to do is give it a good stir.
Step 2 – Spoon the mascarpone into a heavy-duty freezer bag or another airtight container. Make sure it’s fully sealed to help prevent freezer burn and to help keep odors from other foods from seeping in. You could also wrap it in aluminum foil to give it a double seal.
Step 3 – Place the mascarpone on a level surface in the freezer. If you’re using a freezer bag, make sure nothing is placed on top of it so you don’t crush the cheese.
Step 4 – Label your freezer bag or container with the storage date that you froze it.
💡 Pro tip: If you’re freezing a lot of mascarpone, use separate containers. That way you only need to defrost the portion you intend to use rather than the whole amount.
How long will mascarpone keep in the freezer?
Mascarpone cheese should freeze well for up to three months. It may keep for a bit longer than that, but the longer you store it, the more you run the risk of it separating. That could affect the overall taste and texture when you go to thaw it out.
How to defrost mascarpone
In order to retain the texture of the cheese during the thawing process, you’ll want to make sure you don’t rush it.
- Defrost mascarpone slowly. The best way to do it is by letting it thaw in the fridge overnight. This will allow it to thaw gradually and stay cool.
- It should take 10-12 hours to defrost fully.
- You might notice some separation, or it could be grainy or lumpy. So stir it well with a wooden spoon before you use it.
- Avoid trying to thaw it in the microwave as you could inadvertently start to cook it. And don’t leave it out at room temperature, as harmful bacteria can develop in just a few hours.
- It’s a good idea to use the thawed cheese within a couple of days after defrosting in order to get the best flavor and texture.
- Don’t refreeze mascarpone. Like a lot of other dairy products, mascarpone does not freeze well a second time, as the texture will degrade.
How long does mascarpone stay good in the fridge?
Unopened mascarpone has a fairly long shelf life — it will stay good for 3-4 months in the fridge in its original packaging. And if you buy it at the store, it will have a best-by or expiration date, so use it before then.
Opened mascarpone will stay good for up to 7 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
What are good substitutes for mascarpone?
If your recipe calls for mascarpone but you don’t have any on hand, you can swap it for one of several other ingredients.
Creme fraiche – The best substitute is creme fraiche, as it has the closest texture and flavor. But it is a bit tangier and not quite as rich.
Creamy ricotta cheese – This is firmer and grainier than mascarpone, but it is similarly sweet and can make a good substitute in a pinch. To soften it, you can blend it prior to using.
Cream cheese – This is firmer than mascarpone, but it is sweet and soft. So you’ll get similar flavor characteristics but not quite the same texture. Mixing it with whipped cream can help add creaminess to it.
Clotted cream – This traditional English ingredient is a thick cream made by heating cow’s milk. As it cools, the cream rises to the surface and forms clots. It has a soft, buttery texture, and the flavor is sweet. So it can be a good stand-in for mascarpone.
Greek yogurt – While not as rich and creamy as mascarpone, Greek yogurt is still very soft and it is slightly sweet. This works especially well as a complement to fresh fruit. For best results and consistency, use full-fat Greek yogurt.
You can freeze mascarpone icing or frosting, but you may notice a grainy texture when you thaw it out. To freeze it, place it in an airtight container or icing bag. Then thaw it in the fridge when you’re ready to use it. To reduce graininess, give it a good mix before consuming.
Mascarpone is creamy, smooth, and very soft, with a texture similar to thick yogurt or whipped cream. Ricotta is firmer and more grainy. In addition, mascarpone is a bit sweeter and milkier, while ricotta has more tanginess.
Mascarpone’s high fat content makes it richer, softer, and creamier than cream cheese. Made with heavy cream, the fat content of mascarpone can be as high as 75 percent. By contrast, cream cheese is made with whole milk and has about 35% fat, which makes it firmer. While you can use cream cheese instead of mascarpone, a closer substitute in texture and taste is creme fraiche.
More food storage answers
Find out what other foods you should and shouldn’t freeze. Check out these posts.
Leave a Reply