If you’re a cheese lover, you’ve probably encountered this question before: How long can cheese stay in the fridge? Whether you’re trying to prevent waste or just want to ensure that your cheese remains fresh and flavorful, it’s essential to understand the shelf life of different types of cheese in the refrigerator. In this ultimate guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about storing cheese in the fridge, including the best practices, storage techniques, and much more to help keep your cheese fresh and delicious.
What Determines the Shelf Life of Cheese?
Before we dive into the specifics of how long cheese can stay in the fridge, it’s important to understand what determines the shelf life of cheese. Cheese is made of milk and other dairy ingredients, which means that it is highly perishable. The shelf life of cheese varies depending on a variety of factors, including:
- Type of cheese
- Fat content
- Moisture content
- Processing methods
Each cheese variety has a unique composition, which means that it will have a different shelf life in the fridge. The type of cheese with the longest shelf life is usually hard cheese, such as cheddar or parmesan, while soft cheeses, such as brie or goat cheese, have a shorter shelf life.
Factors That Affect Cheese Spoilage
Cheese can spoil quickly if it is not stored properly. The following factors can lead to cheese spoilage:
- Exposure to air
- High temperatures
- Exposure to moisture
- Bacterial growth
- Presence of mold
Air and moisture can cause cheese to dry out, which can lead to a loss of flavor and texture. High temperatures can cause cheese to spoil quickly by facilitating the growth of bacteria and mold. Therefore, it’s crucial to store cheese in a cool, dry, and airtight environment to prevent spoilage.
How Long Can Cheese Stay in the Fridge?
As we mentioned earlier, the shelf life of cheese varies depending on the type of cheese. Here’s a breakdown of how long some of the most popular cheese varieties can stay in the fridge:
|Cheese Type||Shelf Life in the Refrigerator|
|Hard cheese (cheddar, parmesan, etc.)||3-6 months|
|Semi-hard cheese (gouda, edam, etc.)||3-4 weeks|
|Soft cheese (brie, camembert, etc.)||1-2 weeks|
|Fresh cheese (ricotta, feta, etc.)||1 week|
It’s worth noting that the shelf life of cheese can vary depending on how it is stored. Cheese that is stored at the proper temperature and in an airtight container can last longer than cheese that is not stored properly.
How to Store Cheese in the Fridge
Proper storage is critical to extending the shelf life of cheese. Here are some tips for storing cheese in the fridge to keep it fresh for as long as possible:
- Place cheese in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.
- Store cheese in the coldest part of the refrigerator, which is usually the bottom shelf. This will help keep the cheese at a consistent temperature.
- Keep hard and semi-hard cheeses in the original wrapper until they are ready to eat.
- Soft and fresh cheeses should be stored in airtight containers to prevent them from drying out.
- Never store cheese in the door of the refrigerator. This area is subject to temperature fluctuations, which can cause the cheese to spoil quickly.
How to Tell If Cheese Has Gone Bad
Even with proper storage, cheese will eventually spoil. Here are some signs that cheese has gone bad:
- Discoloration: If cheese starts to develop dark spots or discoloration, it’s a sign that it has gone bad.
- Texture changes: If cheese becomes slimy, grainy, or has an off texture, it may have spoiled.
- Smell: Cheese that has a sour or unpleasant odor is likely to be spoiled.
- Mold: If cheese develops mold, it’s a sign that it has gone bad. Some types of cheese, such as blue cheese, are intentionally made with mold, so it’s essential to differentiate between the two.
Here are some of the most common questions related to how long cheese can stay in the fridge:
1. How long can cheese stay out of the fridge?
Cheese should not be left out of the fridge for more than two hours. If cheese has been left out for more than two hours, it should be discarded.
2. Can you freeze cheese?
Yes, cheese can be frozen. Hard and semi-hard cheeses freeze well and can retain their flavor and texture when thawed. Soft cheeses may become crumbly or grainy when frozen, but they can still be used for cooking.
3. Can I eat cheese that has mold on it?
It depends on the type of cheese. Some types of cheese, such as blue cheese, are intentionally made with mold and are safe to eat. However, if you see mold on cheese that is not supposed to have mold, such as cheddar or Swiss, it should be discarded.
4. How do I store shredded cheese?
Shredded cheese should be stored in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. It’s essential to squeeze out as much air as possible to prevent the cheese from drying out.
Proper storage is critical to keeping cheese fresh and delicious. Knowing how long different types of cheese can stay in the fridge is essential to preventing waste and ensuring that you can enjoy your favorite cheeses for as long as possible. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a cheese storage expert.
1. Food Safety Information Council. (2020). Cheese. Retrieved from https://foodsafety.asn.au/cheese/
2. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). FoodKeeper App. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/foodkeeper-app
3. Dairy Australia. (n.d.). Cheese storage. Retrieved from https://www.legendairy.com.au/dairy-kitchen/cheese-storage