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How long will my cheese live?
March 20, 2007 10:55 AM   Subscribe

How long will a big deli-sized block of cheese stay good if it's properly stored, wrapped, and refrigerated? As in: taken out in the morning, kept cool throughout the day, wrapped again in the evening, and stored in the refrigerator overnight.

Do certain cheeses have a longer shelf life than others, or are they all about the same?
posted by bjork24 to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Cheese can keep a long time stored well (it's a way to preserve milk, after all), but there are many variables. The type of cheese is a big one, with hard cheeses typically lasting longer than soft cheeses, even blue soft cheeses. Tight clean wrappings, changed every time you rewrap the cheese also help to preserve it.
posted by OmieWise at 11:05 AM on March 20, 2007


Open to the air all day long? How cool is cool? I wouldn't think that would last very long at all, with spores and whatnot landing on it. Possibly longer if people are removing the surface at a good clip.
posted by DU at 11:18 AM on March 20, 2007


Different cheeses definitely have different shelf lives. Parmesan lasts a lot longer than, say, swiss cheese.

I would say cheese should last wrapped well in the fridge for at least a few weeks in the fridge, but if you keep leaving it out all day, that would probably affect it. Could you cut off the portion you wish to eat on the day you want to eat it and refrigerate the rest? Cheese is ok kept cool but not refrigerated during the day if you're going to eat it later, but I don't know if consistently leaving it out is the best idea.
posted by tastybrains at 11:24 AM on March 20, 2007


Depends on the type of cheese: hard cheeses such as parmigiano-reggiano can be left out all the time in all but the hottest of rooms, semi-cured/soft cheese such as brie should last a day in a cool indoors.

Fortunately, a cheese stored in less than desirable environments will signal its distress long before it goes bad: it will start to dry up or sweat. Even showing those signs, the cheese isn't bad so much as its flavor and texture are becoming compromised. Bigger pieces last longer out than small pieces (or slices), largely because the surface exposed hardens in contact with air and forms a protective crust to the inner sections...cut off the crust and yay, good cheese underneath.
posted by jamaro at 11:32 AM on March 20, 2007


Spores landing on it, DU?

Anyway, the whole point of cheese is to last, as OmieWise points out. Hard cheese can sit out for a long time without problem as long as its not really warm in your place. Remember, aged cheese are left sitting out for weeks or months... that's what "aged" means.

If the cheese is a very hard cheese you can just leave it sitting out and not worry about it. If it gets a little mold on it, just cut off the part with mold, discard, and the rest is fine. That's the whole point of cheese!

If it's a soft cheese, this doesn't apply. The softer the cheese, the less time it can sit out. You wouldn't want fresh mozzeralla sitting around for days for example.
posted by Justinian at 11:34 AM on March 20, 2007


Many hard cheese are much improved when served at room temperature. Sharp cheddar, for example, won't last long at my house if left out, because I'll eat it right up once it starts to sweat a bit.
posted by owhydididoit at 11:47 AM on March 20, 2007


Yeah, spores. Unless bjork24 is posting from the Space Station...?

Remember, aged cheese are left sitting out for weeks or months...

But it has some kind of covering or rind or something, right?

If it gets a little mold on it, just cut off the part with mold, discard, and the rest is fine.

I'm glad to have this confirmed. I always try it and then my wife objects.
posted by DU at 11:51 AM on March 20, 2007


Are you putting a deli in the theater, bjork24?
posted by sourwookie at 12:57 PM on March 20, 2007


We're actually thinking about serving grilled cheese sandwiches... giving customers the choice between several different cheeses and breads, using a panini grill to cook them up in a hasty manner, and then delivering the sandwich to their seat. It's better than nachos.
posted by bjork24 at 1:27 PM on March 20, 2007


i reckon if you did that with cheese where I live, it'd have purple and green spots in two days, but then, it's warm in Queensland.
posted by b33j at 1:41 PM on March 20, 2007


"Cheese is milk's bid for immortality" -- not very useful, but really, most cheese lasts well if cool (and has better taste without refrigeration).

In my childhood we used to buy a whole cheese at Xmas, Stilton or Wensleydale, and eat it gradually over several months, keeping it in the larder which was at UK outdoor temperature.

A handy trick is to slice the top off the cheese, then cut what you want for the day, and replace the top slice as a lid. Also, wrapping a cheese in muslin can help keep it from drying out.

This probably doesn't apply if you're living somewhere hot.
posted by anadem at 1:47 PM on March 20, 2007


If you are talking about a business serving food to customers, then it doesn't matter what Ask MeFi thinks. What matters is what your health department's rules are.
posted by misskaz at 3:44 PM on March 20, 2007


DU - yeah you can cut off moldy bits of cheese and eat the rest. But don't do that with bread; toss the whole loaf if it gets some mold.
posted by Justinian at 4:19 PM on March 20, 2007


I've taken hard cheddar camping on ~week long excursions. After awhile it's better used in cooking or shredded, but have never gotten sick from it. Wouldn't try it with a soft cheese though.
posted by edgeways at 5:09 PM on March 20, 2007


Why don't you wrap/refrigerate the cheese between uses? I can understand having 6 blocks of cheese available when you have 20 people in line for sandwiches, but I would assume such a situatuion is rare during an entire day. If you have only one customer with a request then pulling a cheese from the fridge, and unwrapping it will make the cheeses last much longer and won't kill efficiency (since there is only one customer and the cheese server has nothing else to do).
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 3:31 AM on March 21, 2007


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