Shelf Life of Cheese

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Make sure to store cheese under the right conditions and consume it prior to the “best before” date found on the package. Keep your cheese in the fridge at all times and only take it out a few minutes before serving. Below are a few general guidelines for storing cheese.

  • Fresh cheese: a few days to 2 weeks
  • Soft cheese: 1 week
  • Semi-soft cheese: 2 to 3 weeks
  • Firm cheese: 5 weeks
  • Hard cheese: 10 months

Canadian light cheeses have a higher moisture content. Since micro-organisms need moisture to grow, this means that light cheeses have a shorter shelf life. How much shorter depends on the cheese. It's a good idea to check the “best before” date on the packaging and keep a closer eye on these cheeses.

Again because of their higher moisture content, fresh cheeses have the shortest shelf life of all cheeses. You should therefore trust the “best before” date on the package. Cottage cheese and Ricotta keep for 3 to 5 days once opened.

Soft cheeses are at their best when they give off an aroma of mushrooms and the rind gives in slightly when pressed with your finger. A very strong or pungent smell or ammonia-like odour is a sign that the cheese is unfortunately overripe.

Firm cheeses keep very well for up to 5 weeks. In fact, these cheeses will continue to ripen and develop more distinct flavours over this time.

When stored properly, hard cheeses can keep up to 10 months. Just make sure to change the wrapping regularly, as these cheeses can absorb the strong odours of certain foods.

What to do about mould

Sometimes little whitish spots appear on cheese. This signals the start of unwanted mould. Contrary to the mould used to make Brie or Camembert, this mould is not edible.

If the cheese is firm or hard, you can still eat it as long as you cut off the affected part. Remove a generous amount (at least 1 centimetre surrounding the mouldy part) and throw this section away. Make sure that there is no mould in the rest of the cheese. Wrap it in new plastic wrap, put it back in the fridge and eat it as soon as possible.

However, if the rind is dry and yellowed and smells like ammonia, the cheese should be discarded. Throw out any soft or fresh cheese that shows signs of mould (other than the mould used to make bloomy rind cheeses such as Brie and Camembert).

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