Do you know if you need to refrigerate cheese? Many people are unsure, so they put it in the fridge just in case. In this guide, we will explore why we refrigerate cheese, and which types of cheese don’t need to be kept cold. We will also discuss how long unrefrigerated cheese lasts and how to store it properly.
Can Cheese Be Left Unrefrigerated?
Does cheese need to be refrigerated? Sometimes. Not all cheeses need refrigeration, but many do. The main reason cheese is refrigerated is to prevent bacteria from growing and to slow down the aging process. Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments, so keeping cheese cold helps to keep it fresh and safe to eat. Additionally, refrigeration slows down the ripening process, so the cheese will last longer when stored in the fridge.
People stored cheeses successfully for months before refrigeration. The caves where they stored their cheeses were naturally cool and had high humidity, which prevented the cheese from drying out. When they didn’t have access to caves, they would bury their cheeses in the ground or keep them in cool, dark cellars.
Today, most of us don’t have access to a cave, so we rely on refrigeration to keep our cheese fresh. We don’t have to worry about finding the perfect storage conditions for our cheese.
Why Hard Cheeses Don’t Need Refrigeration
Hard cheese, such as cheddar, is less likely to spoil because it has less moisture content. This means that bacteria have a harder time growing in these types of cheese. As a result, harder cheeses can be stored at room temperature for longer periods of time without going bad. People developed these cheeses in times before refrigeration, so they knew how to keep them fresh without using a fridge.
Hard cheeses can last for weeks or even months when stored properly. To store hard cheese, wrap it in wax paper or parchment paper and then place it in a resealable bag. This will help keep the cheese dry and prevent it from absorbing flavors from other food in your fridge.
What Kinds of Cheeses Require Refrigeration?
While hard cheeses don’t need to be refrigerated, some types of cheese must be kept cold. These include soft cheeses, such as Queso Blanco, Ricotta, cream cheeses, cottage cheese, fresh mozzarella, Brie, and Camembert, as well as blue cheeses like Gorgonzola and Roquefort.
Any soft-ripened cheeses need to stay refrigerated to prevent spoilage. These cheeses have higher moisture content, making them more susceptible to spoiling. Additionally, some cheeses are coated in wax or other materials that prevent them from drying out. These cheeses also need to be stored in the fridge to keep them fresh.
You should also refrigerate cheese that has been shredded or crumbled. Once the cheese is broken into smaller pieces, it dries out more quickly and is more likely to spoil. By storing shredded cheese in the fridge, you can help it last for a few weeks.
What Kinds of Cheese Don’t Have to be Refrigerated?
As we mentioned, hard cheeses don’t need to be refrigerated. This includes aged cheddar and Parmesan. This is because they have a lower moisture content, making them less susceptible to bacteria growth. Other cheeses that don’t have to be refrigerated include Monterey Jack, Aged Gouda, Swiss cheese, Muenster, and Provolone. Processed cheese has a shelf life of several months if unopened and doesn’t have to be in the refrigerator if wrapped well when opened. Processed cheeses are often pasteurized to inhibit bacterial growth.
Be aware that as you store your cheese, it will continue to age longer. You may get some liquid seeping out of the cheese as it ages, but this is normal. Just be sure to wrap it tightly so that it doesn’t dry out.
How Long Does Unrefrigerated Cheese Last Unopened?
If you have hard cheeses that are unrefrigerated and in unopened packages, they can last for several weeks to several months. However, if you have fresh soft cheeses that are unrefrigerated and unopened, they will only last for a few days, if that.
How Long Does Unrefrigerated Cheese Last Once Open?
Once the cheese is opened, it will start to dry out and become hard. If you have a hard cheese that is unrefrigerated and opened, it can last for several weeks. However, if you have a soft cheese that is unrefrigerated and opened, it will only last for a few days, if that.
To prevent your cheese from drying out, be sure to wrap it tightly in wax paper or parchment paper. This will help to keep the cheese moist and prevent it from hardening.
How to Store Cheese While Unrefrigerated
If you are going to be storing cheese at room temperature, it is important to keep it in an airtight container. This will help to prevent the cheese from drying out and becoming hard. Additionally, you should only store small amounts of cheese at a time so that it doesn’t go bad before you have a chance to eat it.
Be sure to wrap your cheese tightly in wax paper or parchment paper before storing it at room temperature. Wrapped cheese stored in an airtight container can last for several weeks.
If you have a root cellar or cold cellar, these are ideal places to store cheese. Otherwise, you can keep it in a cupboard or pantry that is away from heat sources and direct sunlight, as they can cause the cheese to spoil more quickly.
How Long Will Refrigerated Cheese Last?
Refrigerated cheese will last for several weeks to several months. However, be aware that the longer you store cheese in the fridge, the more it will dry out and become hard.
Fresh soft cheese will last for a few days if refrigerated, while hard cheese will last for several weeks to several months. Processed cheese will last for several months if unopened and doesn’t have to be in the refrigerator if wrapped well when opened.
Should You Freeze Cheese?
You can freeze cheese, but be aware that it will change the texture. Frozen cheese will become crumbly and dry when thawed. Additionally, the flavor of frozen cheese may change slightly.
If you decide to freeze your cheese, be sure to wrap it tightly in wax paper or parchment paper. You can also store it in a freezer-safe container. Frozen hard cheeses will last for several months.
Soft cheeses such as cream cheese, Brie, and Camembert, as well as fresh soft cheeses, should not be frozen.
Now that you know all about refrigerating cheese, you can make the best decision for your own storage needs! Do you have any other questions about cheese or food storage? Let us know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!