Gooey and melty or firm and salty, cheese makes just about anything taste better. You may have accidentally left a wedge of creamy brie out overnight or discovered a forgotten block of Parmesan on your counter in the morning. If so, you may be wondering if it is still safe to consume. Or you may simply wonder how to best store your cheese to keep it fresh and tasty. Here, we take a look at various types of cheese and how to best store them so they taste their best and last as long as possible.
12. Hard or Aged Cheese
It may be tempting to simply wrap your cheese in a sheet of plastic wrap. However, hard or aged cheeses such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or aged Gouda best maintain freshness when wrapped in parchment or waxed paper. Once you have wrapped them in paper, placed them in a slightly opened plastic bag. This way the paper prevents the cheese from taking on plastic flavor and allows it to breathe. The plastic bag seals in some moisture, preventing the cheese from drying out too quickly. Keeping the plastic bag partially opened also allows some air to circulate.
11. Blue Cheese
Blue cheese, Gorgonzola, or Roquefort cheese can be stored similarly to hard cheese. Wrap the cheese in a piece of parchment or waxed paper to maintain flavor. Next, wrap it again with plastic to seal in moisture and prevent drying out. These cheeses can last three to four weeks when stored in the refrigerator in this manner. Serve cheese at room temperature to allow the maximum flavor to shine through. To maintain quality, return the cheese to the refrigerator after about two hours. Use a fresh piece of kitchen paper each time you return the cheese to the refrigerator in order to keep a fresh, breathable layer next to the cheese.
10. Semi-Hard Cheese
Cheddar, Swiss, and Gruyere cheese should also be wrapped in a layer of kitchen paper and surrounded by a layer of plastic. Additionally, Formaticum manufactures a cheese paper that provides two layers of protection to seal in cheese flavor. The inner layer pulls away excess moisture from the cheese to prevent mold. The outer layer keeps the cheese from drying out. It is best to return your cheese to the refrigerator after about two hours for maximum flavor. However, cheese that has been left out longer should not be unsafe to consume. Store your semi-hard cheese properly and it should be good for about three to six weeks.
9. Soft and Semi-Soft Cheese
Soft cheeses such as goat cheese, Camembert, Brie, or Limburger should be kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to consume them. These cheeses often come wrapped in plastic and can be kept in their original container. If you are unable to reseal the package, Joanne at The Pioneer Woman recommends wrapping soft cheese in a piece of waxed paper. You can seal it by rolling the cheese up in the paper and twisting the ends. Use a fresh piece of waxed paper each time you use the cheese to maintain freshness.
8. Fresh Cheese in Brine
Cheese such as fresh mozzarella or feta may come in a container of brine to keep it fresh and moist. Since fresh mozzarella only lasts about two days, avoid purchasing more cheese than you will be able to consume in that time. If your feta cheese is not packed in brine, you can prolong the freshness and prevent mold by storing it in a brine you make yourself. Epicurious provides instructions for making your own brine from salt and water. Never store your cheese packed in water alone. This draws salt from the cheese and alters the flavor while not preventing microbial growth.
7. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
According to Eat By Date, an opened package of semi-hard cheese such as shredded cheddar will last for about two weeks in the refrigerator. Keep shredded cheese in a resealable plastic bag to prevent the shreds from drying out and hardening. Store unused portions of shredded cheddar in the freezer and it will last for six to eight months.
6. Processed Cheese Products
Sadly, the contents of processed cheese products bear little resemblance to real cheese. These items are commonly found sitting at room temperature on grocery store shelves. Canned spray cheese, jars of cheese spread, and blocks of pasteurized cheese product may be made from powdered cheese, whey, and milk proteins. Cheese products can be left at room temperature until they are opened. Even then, the preservatives they contain can prevent spoilage at room temperature for longer periods of time.
5. Cottage Cheese and Ricotta Cheese
Cottage cheese and ricotta cheese are soft cheeses in whey that typically last about a week after the freshness date on the package. Be sure to keep these cheeses sealed in an airtight container. A funky or sour odor, discoloration, and liquid separation are warning signs that these cheeses have gone bad. Cottage cheese and ricotta can spoil quickly. Therefore, when serving or using these cheeses, be sure to use clean utensils to avoid introducing microbes to the container.
4. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese often comes in a small block wrapped in foil and sealed in a paper box. This cheese should last three to four weeks past the date printed on the package. Once opened, move cream cheese to a container with an airtight seal, rather than simply folding the foil back over the remaining portion. To prevent introducing bacteria, always use clean utensils when serving up a portion of cream cheese.
3. Store Cheese in Your Vegetable Crisper
For maximum taste, store your cheese in the vegetable crisper. The consistent temperatures of this area will help keep your cheese at its freshest. The venting feature on your crisper drawers can keep the compartment at high humidity or at low humidity. If you use this feature, store your cheese in a high humidity compartment to maintain moisture. Another reason to keep your cheese in the vegetable crisper is that it is handy for grabbing cheese and fresh fruit to enjoy together.
2. Label Cheese with Dates
When placing packages of opened cheese in your refrigerator, be sure to label them with the dates they were opened. Use a permanent marker to label the packaging and save you from guessing on freshness. Consult the handy charts at Eat By Date to know how long various cheeses should last in your refrigerator or freezer.
1. Wrap Your Cheese Properly
Wrapping your cheese in paper may not seem like a daunting task, but there are many instructional videos and tutorials on how to get the job done properly. Serious Eats recommends using a sheet of cheese paper or waxed paper that is twice as wide and four times as long as your cheese. The paper is wrapped around the cheese and taped in a process resembling that of wrapping a birthday gift. The final product is then stored in a partially sealed plastic bag.