Can you freeze cheese? Here's what you should know to keep cheese fresh.

Did you know there are around 2,000 types of cheese? Cheddar, gouda, Brie, Parmesan, goat cheese – there are endless ways to add the dairy product into your meal for a salty or savory bite.

But as cheese connoisseurs know, there’s much more to cheese consumption than just buying a hunk of Monterey Jack and throwing it in your fridge. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, cheese should be kept in a loose-fitting bag wrapped in wax paper so as not to lose humidity. Soft cheese should be wrapped loosely.

Can you freeze cheese?

Yes, you can freeze cheese, but be warned that some types freeze better than others. Here is how long your cheese will likely remain safe and enjoyable, based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s guidelines for fridge and freezer storage:

Hard cheeses like cheddar, Swiss or Parmesan:

  • Fridge, unopened: Six months

  • Fridge, opened: Three to four weeks

  • Frozen: Six months

Soft cheeses like Brie, cottage cheese or ricotta:

  • Fridge: One week

  • Frozen: Don't freeze well

Processed cheese slices:

  • Fridge: One to two months

  • Frozen: Don't freeze well

According to the Food Network, hard cheeses freeze better than soft cheeses because they contain very little moisture and are unlikely to expand and compromise the texture and flavor when frozen. That doesn’t mean you can’t freeze soft cheese – just be prepared, the quality may suffer.

You can freeze soft cheese by grating it and putting it in a plastic bag. Make sure to squeeze the air out of the bag before sealing it tightly. To freeze hard cheese, simply cut it into chunks and wrap it in parchment paper and foil before placing it in an airtight plastic bag, the Food Network recommends.

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Can you freeze cream cheese?

The USDA does not recommend freezing cream cheese because its high moisture and fat content will form ice crystals and a chunkier texture when frozen. Cream cheese should be consumed within two weeks of purchase if refrigerated, the USDA says.

However, if texture changes don’t bother you, there are certainly ways to freeze cream cheese. EatingWell recommends freezing unopened cream cheese in its original package or opened cream cheese in tightly wrapped plastic wrap or in an airtight container for up to two months.

To thaw, transfer to the refrigerator overnight or defrost in the microwave after discarding foil wrapping. To get back some of that creamy structure, try whipping the thawed mixture using a food processor or whisk, EatingWell writes.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Can you freeze cheese? How to safely store hard, soft, sliced cheese.