According to Dairy Goodness, properly wrapped cheese stays fresh for several days and, in some cases, weeks or even months. Here are a few pointers to help cheese retain its full flavor.
As a rule, make sure that the wrapping adheres well to the cheese to avoid drying out. Store your cheeses in the lower shelf of your refrigerator, far from foods with strong odours, to avoid absorption of unwanted tastes and smells. If you follow these rules, your refrigerator’s vegetable drawer will make a good storage place.
To preserve freshness, plastic wrap is the most versatile and accessible option. It also provides the tightest seal to protect cheese from moisture, odours and possibly mould in the fridge.
Store Canadian Bocconcini and Feta in the brine it was sold in, or in lightly salted water. Be sure to always respect the “best before” date.
Shelf Life of Cheese
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 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).
In the Freezer
All cheeses can be frozen, but do keep in mind that freezing can affect their texture and character. This is why thawed cheeses are best used for cooking. Neither the taste nor the texture of meals cooked with previously frozen cheeses will be affected.
You can freeze cheeses, in pieces of 500 g or less, for up to two months. Make sure they are carefully wrapped in plastic wrap and place them in an airtight freezer bag. As with all types of cheeses, it is important to cool before freezing, and to allow the cheese to thaw slowly in the refrigerator, which allows it to regain the humidity lost while frozen.
Left-over cheese will retain its flavour and moistness if you re-wrap it in the original wrapping and refrigerate as soon as possible. Remember that cooking with leftover cheeses is always a delicious alternative!
- Grate or melt hardened cheeses into your favourite recipes or fondue.
- Shavings of Canadian Cheddar can liven up a tomato or onion soup.
- Left-over Brie is ideal in an omelette.
- Give Brick cheese a second life by shredding it on pizza.
Now that you’re drooling, check out our many cheesy recipes.