Does cheese go bad?

In this brief article, we will answer the question: does cheese go bad, we will also explain three types of cheese and their storage conditions.

Does cheese go bad?

Yes, cheese goes bad after opening them but the shelf life depends on the type of cheese. Hard cheeses like cheddar cheese can stay fresh till three to four weeks in refrigeration while soft cheese like ricotta and stay fresh for two weeks.

Cheese is a dairy product made from the coagulation of milk proteins of different animals. Cheese is classified in many types depending on its origin, method of making it, texture, appearance, hardness and softness.

The shelf life varies from type to type and is different for every cheese, even though in general fermented products have longer shelf life, cheese has a shelf life of weeks. This is due to the moisture content and other properties of cheese.

Difference between hard cheese and soft cheese?

Depending on the type, hard cheese or soft cheese have major differences. Hard cheese is made of coagulated milk proteins with rennet enzymes and culture acids. It is a ripened or aged cheese which needs bacterial action to ripen it.

Soft cheese is made by coagulating milk proteins like casein with acids. Unlike hard cheese it does not need enzymes or bacteria. It is an unripened cheese which includes cream and cottage cheese

Hard cheese:

Hard cheese is parmesan, cheddar, romano, pecorino, beaufort, and asiago. These cheeses have the longest shelf life than any other type of cheese. The shelf life is as long as five to six months and if stored correctly it may extend to more.

Hard cheese has low internal moisture and does not go through a lot of changes when refrigerated. Unlike other cheeses, hard cheese has least change in taste after long periods of freezing. Every cheese goes through a taste change after freezing but hard cheese has minimum change

How to store it:

Hard cheese just like any other cheese need proper storage conditions. The storage condition for hard cheese is a cool, dry place and packed in an airtight container. Pack the cheese in parchment paper, cheese cloth or any wrapping but don’t stick the wrapping to cheese. When wrapping a cheese always leave room for air exchange.

How to tell if its gone bad:

Hard cheese has longer shelf life but it still has the capacity to spoil and go bad. You can identify if the cheese has gone bad by its off flavor and off odor. In case of hard cheese old develops very late so it is safe to eat of the part with mold on it is cut off

Semi-hard cheese:

The cheeses Emmental, Havarti, Port Salut, Edam, Cantal are all semi-hard cheeses. These cheeses have a shorter shelf life than hard cheeses as they have more moisture in them. The general shelf life is two to four weeks if properly stored after opening

How to store it:

Semi-hard cheese has more moisture than hard cheese and needs proper storing. In case of semi-hard cheese, it is stored in a zip-lock bag after wrapping it in parchment paper. To refrigerate this cheese some people prefer breathable parchment paper but air tight bags to limit air exchange.

The storage conditions are almost the same as every cheese. It needs proper storage in a cool, dry place with no direct exposure to heat. It spoils much sooner than hard cheese so it is better to keep it refrigerated when not using.

How to tell if it’s gone bad:

Semi-hard cheese has more moisture so the chance to go bad is more too. If it goes bad it smells quite differently, also cheese starts to drain water once storage conditions are not proper. It starts to look different with change in flavor, appearance, and smell

Soft cheese:

Cottage cheese, ricotta, brie, mozzarella, camembert is all soft cheese and rich in moisture. The shelf life is almost one to two week after opening them. These cheese have a higher chance of spoilage due to their high moisture content

How to store it:

Soft cheese is stored just like semi-head cheese, in air tight zip-lock bags, and parchment wrapping. But as the air flow is maximum due to most moisture you can place the zip bag in a Tupperware container. This limits the air flow more than the zip-lock bag and ensures maximum shelf life if in refrigerator

How to tell if it’s gone bad?

Soft cheese is very sensitive in any change and spoils very quickly. The conditions are the same as other cheese but in soft cheese, if there is even a small hint of mold you should discard it. Because in soft cheese the mold spreads fast and it should not be stored past its expiration date written on the label.

Other FAQs about Cheese which you may be interested in.

Can you eat Havarti cheese when pregnant?

Can you eat halloumi when pregnant?

How to store Parmigiano Reggiano?


In this brief article, we have answered the question: does cheese go bad, we have also explained three types of cheese and their storage conditions.