Freeze-Dried Cheese: A Tutorial (With Recipes and a Video Demonstration!)

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Cheese is one of those staples that many of us have difficulty doing without it. It’s a key ingredient in many things, from cheese and crackers to tacos and casseroles. But unfortunately, the kind of cheese we tend to buy from the grocery store in shrink-wrapped blocks isn’t made for long-term storage. This is a significant problem for those who like to plan far ahead.

Some recommend taking your cheddar out of the plastic wrapping to wax it and then leaving it at room temperature. But this is controversial because the moisture content of softer cheeses — meaning anything that’s not rock-hard, like Parmesan — can cause the cheese to go rancid or worse.

Luckily, science has given us freeze-dried cheese to solve just this problem! It may look pricey, but it’s well worth the cost simply because of its remarkable shelf stability, flavor, and the fact that it tastes and melts exactly like fresh cheese when rehydrated.

Several years ago, when The Survival Mom was teaching a food storage class in Arizona, she mentioned that recipes heavy on cheese wouldn’t be very compatible with food storage. One woman said, “You mean no more cheese enchiladas?”

She and the other women in the room looked horrified! The Survival Mom quickly reassured them they could still enjoy their cheese enchiladas, hunkered down in their bomb shelters, thanks to freeze-dried cheddar cheese!

image: grated cheese, freeze-dried cheese

All About Freeze Dried Cheese

Don’t be put off by the idea of “cheese in a can.” This isn’t that suspicious “cheese” mix that you put on macaroni.

This is actual cheese.

Freeze-dried cheese can genuinely be used any way you use regular grated cheese.

And the best part is that it comes in several varieties, so you’re equipped to make lasagna with mozzarella, enchiladas with cheddar, and quesadillas with Monterey Jack!

What does it taste like?

Freeze-dried cheese looks almost precisely like the grated cheese you buy in plastic bags at the grocery store. Each cheese strand is crunchy, and I’ve been known to eat a handful every once in a while. They’re reminiscent of Cheez-It crackers. I’ve been known to snack on it directly from the can. It tastes a lot like Cheez-It crackers!

When rehydrated, the cheese forms a soft, melted-looking mass, which you can then spread over casseroles, roll up in corn tortillas, or use in just about any other way. When heated, it melts exactly like fresh cheese.

How long does it last?

Unopened in the can, it has a shelf-life of 20 years. Manufacturers recommend that it be used within a year after opening.

Once opened, you can portion the product into canning jars and vacuum seal. However, this isn’t necessary until you think you might forget about the open can in the pantry.

Compare this to regular cheese. It goes “iffy” when left out of the fridge for a while and grows mold after a couple of weeks, even when refrigerated.

How is freeze dried cheese made?

Before the late 2000s, I only associated freeze-dried items with the “astronaut food” packets you can purchase in science museum gift shops: fun, weird, but not terribly practical for regular people.

Today, however, freeze-dried foods are a food storage staple. (Read about the history of freeze drying here.)

Regular freezing causes ice crystals to form within the food, which can damage the food’s texture, color, flavor, and nutrients. Think, if you will, about frozen strawberries in the frozen food section and how sad they look once they are thawed.

In contrast, freeze-dried food is flash frozen so quickly that ice crystals do not have time to form, preserving texture, structure, and taste.

From there, the frozen food is placed in a vacuum. This allows for sublimation so that the water molecules evaporate off; the water goes from solid to a gas without passing through the liquid state.

The end result is cheese that looks, smells, and behaves like cheese when used for cooking.

How do you rehydrate it?

You rehydrate the cheese the same way you do any other freeze-dried food. Just soak it in room temperature or warm water for a few minutes. Drain well, and then use it in your cooking.

Easy-peasy!

Plus, The Survival Mom shows how she does this in the recipe demo in this article.

What can you do with it?

You can do just about anything!

I’ve made pizza and quesadillas, used it with tacos, and made all kinds of casseroles. No one in my family noticed any difference, not even my picky toddler.

I wouldn’t recommend using it for fresh eating, as with crackers or in a cold cut sandwich, but only for reasons of convenience: it’s pre-shredded and thus carries the danger of falling off the cracker.

Recipes Made With Freeze Dried Cheese

Here are a couple of recipes to get you started: Mac-n-cheese, tortilla pizzas, and a recipe demo for quesadillas.

A Quick Video Recipe Demonstration Using Freeze Dried Cheese

Watch as The Survival Mom takes the mystery out of freeze dried cheese with a quick recipe demo!

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is a classic dish and real comfort food if ever there was one! It combines Cheese Blend, a tasty, powdered cheese, and freeze-dried cheddar.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cook macaroni noodles for 8–10 minutes or until tender; drain and cool slightly under cold water. Set aside.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat; stir well and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add macaroni to the saucepan and reduce heat to low, stirring until noodles are coated.

Tortilla Pizzas

Pizza is one of the most popular items to make with freeze dried cheese. This recipe uses a tortilla as the crust, making for a quick and easy meal.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Rehydrate ingredients according to directions on the can.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. In a small bowl, combine basil, oregano, garlic powder, and olive oil. Lightly brush one side of the tortilla with the mixture.
  4. Sprinkle equal amounts of meat, green pepper, and tomatoes on each tortilla. Top with cheese.
  5. Place on the middle rack of the oven, and bake for 8 minutes or until crisp.
  6. *Fresh versions, using the same amounts, can be used instead of freeze-dried.

Learn More About Freeze Dried Foods

If you’re new to using freeze-dried foods, you’ll want to watch The Survival Mom’s video lesson to learn the basics and read about the food storage companies she recommends.

Otherwise, check out some of these tutorials about using freeze-dried foods:

Learning how to use freeze-dried cheese is simple; it’s a super versatile and tasty product that I recommend.

What freeze-dried foods do you like to use? Please share with me in the comments!

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Beth Buck lives in Utah with her husband and three children. She has a degree in Middle Eastern Studies/ Arabic, a black belt in Karate, a spinning wheel, and a list of hobbies that is too long to list here.

17 thoughts on “Freeze-Dried Cheese: A Tutorial (With Recipes and a Video Demonstration!)”

  1. Thanks for explaining freeze-dried cheese. The name always sounded wierd. But the alternative, cheese in a spraycan, was not high on my list of things to buy in bulk.

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  3. I’ve been busy freeze-drying my own. I get the large bag of shredded cheese from Sams Club, and put it in my Harvest Right freeze dryer. Comes out great every time.

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  6. One thing you didn’t mention that I really need is how do I rehydrate my freeze dried cheese. I have some in a can and I have some I freeze dried myself and I don’t know how to rehydrate it so in isn’t mushy and I can use I do like fresh cheese. We sprinkle ours on beans and use it as a topper on tacos among other things and would like to reconstitute the freeze dried to use in that way as well as in casseroles, etc.

  7. Question: How much does cheese shrink when you freeze dry it? For example, if I shred a 5-pound block of cheese and freeze dry it, how much will it make?

    1. When freeze-dried, cheese doesn’t shrink! I buy it from Thrive Life, and the measurements are the same for fresh cheese. It even looks exactly like shredded fresh cheese. If you have a home freeze-dryer, I suggest checking their website for information about freeze-drying cheese or freeze-drying a small amount and then storing it at room temperature to see for how long it stays fresh tasting and smelling. The oil in most cheeses will become rancid over time.

  8. The pizza recipe mentions 1 tablespoon of clarified butter but no olive oil in the ingredients and olive oil but no clarified butter in the directions. Do you need both? How much olive oil is needed?

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