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You have your whole week’s worth of dinners all planned out. You go grocery shopping and get all the ingredients needed to complete every meal on your menu.
However, life happens and gets in the way of your perfectly planned menu.
You were going to take the time to make an amazing cheesecake for dinner one night, only to have the kid’s practice run long cutting into your baking time.
You were needed to stay late at work and now your chicken dinner turns into a quick hot dog, macaroni and cheese dinner.
All those unused ingredients taunt you every time you open the fridge. Most of the ingredients are either dry or frozen, but what about some of the refrigerated ingredients like cream cheese?
Is there a way to salvage the cream cheese and make it last a little longer? Can you freeze the cream cheese to use at a later date?
If you can freeze the cream cheese, will it freeze well and still be okay to use?
You can freeze cream cheese to use at a later date. However, the consistency of the cream cheese does not remain the same once frozen.
You can use the frozen cream cheese in different baking recipes where needed, but you probably won’t be able to use your frozen cream cheese to spread on your morning bagels.
Although the consistency won’t be ideal for bagels using it for cheesecake, cream cheese frosting, etc. should still work just fine.
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How Do You Freeze Cream Cheese?
When it comes to baking, there are typically two types of people. Those who keep all their ingredients on hand all the time and those who go and buy the ingredients just before needing them.
There are those bakers that always have every ingredient in their house at all times. If you want to bake a cake, all the ingredients are there. Are you looking to bake a loaf of bread, great, they will pull out all the ingredients.
The other type of baker plans ahead a different way. They plan the item they want to bake and when ready they will go and purchase the ingredients.
Both bakers are right in their own ways. If you are the baker that always has all the ingredients, then you probably tend to buy in bulk.
Since we know you can freeze cream cheese, how do you properly store the extra cream cheese?
Opened cream cheese will need to be put into an airtight container before freezing. Unopened cream cheese can be frozen directly in the box/foil it comes in.
Freezing Opened Cream Cheese
If you are freezing cream cheese that has previously been opened and used, you will need to move it to an airtight container. Remove the cream cheese from the foil wrapping and place it into a sealed container.
It is best to write the date you froze the opened cream cheese. Previously opened cream cheese can last in the freezer for up to two months.
Freezing Unopened Cream Cheese
You can place any unopened packages of cream cheese straight into the freezer. The foil and box provide enough of a buffer and seal to prevent any freezer burn.
Unopened frozen cream cheese can be kept in the freezer for two months.
Can You Speed Up Cream Cheese Softening?
Life is busy and taking ingredients out of the fridge or freezer for dinner is not always a top priority on the ‘To-Do List.’
If your dinner recipe calls for softened cream cheese and it’s still in the fridge, is there a way to speed up the softening process?
To speed up the softening process of your cream cheese you can use the microwave, warm water, or leave it out on the countertop.
All three of these methods can be used effectively to speed up the softening process of cream cheese. I will go into a little more detail about each method below.
Softening Cream Cheese In The Microwave
If you need a block of cream cheese softened, you can microwave it for about 15 seconds. Always be sure to unwrap the cream cheese before placing it in the microwave (foil and microwaves don’t mix).
Place the amount of cream cheese needed on a microwave-safe plate. After the initial 15 seconds, if it is still not fully softened you can microwave it in 10-second spurts.
Softening Cream Cheese With Warm Water
The microwave may end up softening your cream cheese brick unevenly. A water bath can get your cream cheese softened in about 15 minutes and will be far more even.
Remove the cream cheese only from the cardboard package. Do not puncture any holes in the foil as water could end up seeping into your cream cheese.
Fill a bowl with hot water from the tap and place the unopened cream cheese in the water bath. You can flip the cream cheese every five minutes to make sure your cream cheese softens evenly.
Softening Cream Cheese On The Countertop
If you leave the cream cheese to thaw on the countertop it can take a while, especially if you leave it in the box, foil, and as a whole brick. You can speed up the countertop process by removing the cream cheese from all packaging.
Slice the cream cheese into cubes and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the cream cheese cubes to sit for about a half-hour. You can check to see if the cream cheese has softened by gently poking the cubes.
If you have removed your cream cheese from the freezer, you can either place it in the fridge the day before to defrost or microwave it using 15-second intervals.
Can You Refrigerate Cream Cheese After It Has Been Sitting Out?
Leaving dairy out for an extended time is never really a good idea. Bacteria enjoy dairy products almost as much as you do.
When dairy has been left out for an extended time, it can potentially become contaminated and cause sickness like food poisoning or worse.
When you use cream cheese in baking, you may not end up using the whole brick. You may have used the cream cheese as a bagel spread in the morning and returned home to realize you left it on the counter during work.
So, exactly how long can cream cheese sit out and still be okay to go back in the fridge?
Cream cheese can only sit at room temperature for two hours and still be okay to go back into the fridge. If your cream cheese has been out for longer than two hours, it is best not to take the chance with your health and just purchase another package.
Whether you are a baker who likes to stock up on baking goods or a busy mom whose meal plans drastically changed, you can freeze your cream cheese and use it at a later date.
Be sure to never leave your cream cheese out of the fridge or freezer for longer than two hours otherwise your morning bagel with cream cheese could cause you a few sick days.