Who doesn’t love a charcuterie board spread with blue cheese, Parmesan, Gouda, goat cheese, provolone, and other decadent cheeses? We show you how to keep cheese fresh at room temperature and in the fridge and ways to freeze some cheese types.
While a cheese board is a fun way to experience varying hard, semi-soft, and soft cheeses from the cheese shop, what do you do with all of the leftovers? We’re sorry to break the news to you, but you’ve probably been storing your cheese wrong all of your life.
The first thing that comes to mind when storing leftovers is plastic. Do you know that storing your cheese in a sheet of plastic wrap is a big no-no? It’s true, and we’ll explain why.
Cheese storage seems pretty straightforward, but there is a big difference when it comes to storing hard cheeses with a rind and a soft cheese like ricotta or fromage blanc.
How you store-cheese also depends on whether you plan on eating it daily for snacking or decide to save it long term.
- Ways to Keep All Cheese Types Fresh
- How Long does Cheese Last?
- Can Cheese Sit out at Room Temperature?
- Keeping Cheese Fresh in the Refrigerator
- How to Store Soft Cheese in Brine
- How to Keep Cheese Fresh by Freezing it
- When does Cheese Go Bad?
- Ways to Thaw Frozen Cheese
- Things to Avoid When Storing Cheese
Ways to Keep All Cheese Types Fresh
While a piece of cheese doesn’t last very long before you pop it in your mouth, a cheese wheel is another story. Discovering how to keep cottage cheese fresh is even more interesting.
Learn the different ways to store soft and hard cheese, short and long term, things to avoid during storage, and how to tell when cheese is no longer edible.
How Long does Cheese Last?
Many variables determine how long cheese lasts. Is it a hard or soft cheese? Does the cheese have a rind, or is it in a brine solution? How long does cheese last? We explain the different cheeses and how long they last before spoiling.
The storage life of cheese depends on the type and how you store it. Unopened hard cheese, such as Asiago, Romano, and Parmesan, lasts up to four months past the printed date in the fridge and stays fresh three to six weeks in the fridge after you open it.
Semi-hard cheese like Swiss and cheddar last up to two months in the refrigerator if unopened and up to six weeks after opening. Both types last up to eight months in the freezer.
Unopened soft cheeses, like mozzarella, camembert, and muenster, last one to two weeks beyond the package date and up to six months in the freezer. You can freeze buffalo mozzarella and all kinds of cheese for later use in your favorite cheesy recipes.
Can Cheese Sit out at Room Temperature?
While keeping cheese fresh in the fridge is recommended, there are times when it’s necessary to have cheese sitting out at room temperature. How long is it safe to let the cheese sit on the counter before it goes bad?
Room Temp Cheese
If you’re having guests over for appetizers and prepare a cheese board, it’s a good idea to know how long cheese can sit out. The great news is that many cheese types are safe to sit out at room temperature longer than you think.
Soft cheese is suitable for sitting out for two to four hours, and hard cheeses can sit on the counter for up to eight hours. However, fresh and unripened cheese like ricotta and cottage cheese require refrigeration at all times.
Keeping Cheese Fresh in the Refrigerator
Refrigeration is the best way for keeping cheese fresh for everyday meals and snacks, but how you store it in the fridge depends on the cheese type. Here are a few ways to store both soft and hard cheese to keep them fresh the longest.
To store hard cheese after opening it, wrap it tightly in cheese paper or wax paper, seal it shut with tape, and put it in an open plastic bag. Doing this protects the cheese from drying out while still allowing it to breathe.
The best way to store soft cheese is to keep it in a cheese dome to ensure proper humidity. However, it’s fine to wrap this type in cheese paper or a Formaticum cheese bag in the same manner that you wrap hard cheese.
Place the wrapped cheese in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer, where it is between 40 to 53°F and use it as needed.
How long does cheese last in the fridge? Refrigerated cheese stays fresh anywhere from one to six weeks, depending on whether it is a soft or hard cheese.
How to Store Soft Cheese in Brine
Storing hard cheese in the fridge is pretty simple, as long as you use the right technique. However, cheese in brine requires a different type of storage method. Here is how to keep feta cheese in the fridge by making your own brine.
To store leftover feta cheese in brine, pour two cups of water and two tablespoons of kosher salt into a Tupperware plastic container and stir the liquid until it dissolves.
Place the feta cheese into the brine to submerge it and put the cover in place. Set the cheese in the fridge and use it within four weeks.
If you can’t use up all your feta within a month, you might wonder can feta be frozen. Yes, you can freeze feta cheese as long as you package it well.
How to Keep Cheese Fresh by Freezing it
If you have a wheel or large block of cheese and cannot eat it all before it goes bad, the freezer is a great option for storage. Most of the time you can freeze and thaw cheese easily. However, not all cheeses handle the freezing process well. Here is how to freeze cheese and which types are suitable for the freezer.
Cheeses that are perfect for freezing include hard cheese such as cheddar and shredded cheese such as mozzarella. Cheeses that do not handle the freezing process well are soft cheese like artisanal cheese or brie. You can keep cream cheese fresh in the freezer but it does tend to separate.
If it’s still in its original package, place the cheese into a freezer bag, seal it shut, and toss it into the freezer. To freeze an opened block or wheel of cheese, we recommend freezing a size no larger than one pound.
Wrap it snugly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, put it into a freezer bag, and seal it. To freeze cheese slices, separate them with waxed paper before placing them into a freezer bag.
When does Cheese Go Bad?
How long does cheese last before it goes bad? Cheese lasts anywhere from four weeks to eight months, depending on the type and storage method. If you’re unsure how long you’ve been storing your cheese, here is how to tell if a cheese is fresh or spoiled.
It’s pretty easy to tell when cheese is gone bad. While we don’t necessarily want to eat a piece of moldy bread, a little bit of mold on your hard cheese is fine. Cut away the moldy part and toss it in the trash.
If you discover mold on cottage cheese or cream cheese, it’s no longer good to eat. If your hard cheese is rock hard or has a white film on it, it’s past its prime and ready for the garbage.
Ways to Thaw Frozen Cheese
You have a container of cheese in the freezer, and you’re ready to incorporate it into a meal. But, how exactly do you defrost frozen cheese? Here are a couple of easy ways to thaw your frozen cheese for your favorite recipe.
Defrosting Frozen Cheese
The safest way to thaw frozen cheese is to transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before and let it thaw at a cold temperature.
However, there is no need to thaw frozen shredded cheese if you plan on using it on a pizza or casserole. Just remove it from the freezer and spread the frozen cheese directly on the dish before baking it.
Things to Avoid When Storing Cheese
While it’s safe to refrigerate cheese in its original packaging if it’s unopened, there are right and wrong ways to store it after opening. Here are some tips and things to avoid when storing cheese to ensure it stays fresh and delicious.
Cheese Storage Mistakes
When keeping goat cheese fresh or any other types of cheese, avoid wrapping your cheese in plastic wrap or non-porous material. Cheese needs humidity and air to breathe, and plastic is a barrier that suffocates it. Not only that, but cheese acts like a sponge, absorbing plasticizers from the wrap.
Wrap your cheese in a porous material such as parchment, cheese, or wax paper and give it an extra layer of protection by setting it in an opened container or bag.
Do not keep the cheese in the back of the fridge. This is usually the coldest area, and oftentimes parts of the cheese freeze during storage.
A wheel of brie or a wedge of Swiss cheese only lasts so long, but there are ways to extend your favorite cheese’s shelf life, whether you get it from your local cheesemonger or grocery store deli.
Not only is cheese easy to keep fresh in the fridge, but some cheeses hold up to freezing for longer storage.
Knowing how to keep cheese fresh the right way means you get to enjoy cheesy goodness longer, so why not share our soft and hard cheese storage guide with your social circle on Facebook and Pinterest?