Properly storing cheese can help it last for several months, but you'll need to know a bit about your cheese's personality to know precisely how long it will be good in the fridge.

By Christine Clark
April 02, 2020
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Wine and cheese may be the best of friends, but there's at least one important difference: while wine will be just as good after sitting around in your apartment until you're ready, cheese waits for no one. When possible, it's best to buy cheese more frequently in smaller amounts.

That said, cheese won't magically go bad on Thursday after being perfectly fine on Wednesday.

When it comes right down to it, cheese is simply the less perishable form of milk —nthe water is removed, and the fat and protein are preserved by way of fermentation, salt, and acidity. The more water left, the more perishable your cheese will be. Cheese will usually become unpalatable far before it becomes dangerous, so there's no need to stress. With many harder cheeses, you can even scrape off any blue, gray, or green mold that's growing. That said, if you ever see red or black mold, your cheese is a no-go (and your fridge could use a thorough sanitizing).

The best ways to keep your cheese good for longer? When you get your cheese home, get to know it. Taste it, smell it. Your senses will be the best red flag when a cheese goes bad — far better than expiration dates, in fact, which are often off when it comes to cheese.

When you're ready to put it back in the fridge, wrap it gently in parchment paper. You want it to be protected, but able to breathe. If you're a serious cheese lover, you can even buy cheese bags — they keep in humidity to prevent dryness but also allow the cheese to breathe. Plastic wrap will work in a pinch but can impart plasticky flavors onto your cheese.

Freezing cheese isn't usually recommended, especially for soft cheeses. That said, a block of cheese intended for cooking, rather than snacking, will be just fine in the freezer for a few months.

Unsure how long your favorite cheese will last in your fridge? Not sure what the cheese will look like when it's past its prime? Read on for the lowdown, plus recipes for using each of them up when you're cutting it close.

Keep Reading: Can You Freeze Cheese?

Fresh Mozzarella

How long it lasts: 7 to 10 days after opening

Signs of spoilage: Mold, dryness, a yeasty smell

The magic of fresh mozzarella is its delicacy. The problem? The fresher a cheese, the more perishable it is. Try to buy it close to when you plan on eating it.

Mozzarella Recipes to Try:

Cheddar

How long it lasts: 6 to 8 weeks after opening

Signs of spoilage: Red or black mold, dryness

Though cheddar is originally from the U.K., it's since then become as American as apple pie (and, by the way, is also very good in crust for apple pie). Part of the reason may be its durability — it will dry out far before it molds, and even when it's a bit dry, it will be great melted in your favorite recipes.

Cheddar Recipes to Try:

Brie

How long it lasts: 2 to 3 weeks after opening

Signs of spoilage: Mold, dryness, ammonia

Creamy, elegant Brie may be a dreamboat, but it won't last forever in your fridge. And, it has the added issue of potential ammonia buildup — if you leave it for too long in your fridge, it could smell like cleaning products when you take it out. It's not a sign of spoilage — it's just the cheese breathing — but if it builds up, the cheese will taste more like Windex than like cheese. Most of the time, though, it will blow off after a few hours out at room temperature (the temperature, by the way, at which you should always serve your cheese).

Brie Recipes to Try:

Parmesan

How long it lasts: 3 months after opening

Signs of spoilage: Dryness

If you're looking for one sturdy cheese that will last in your fridge for as long as you need it, go with Parm. Thanks to a long aging process and higher salt content, your Parmesan will be just fine for as long as you need it. Even if it dries out a bit, it will still be "grate" over pasta.

Parmigiano Reggiano Recipes to Try:

Gruyere

How long it lasts: 6 to 8 weeks after opening

Signs of spoilage: Red or black mold, dryness

Gruyere is brothy, complex, and melts like a dream. In other words, it's an easy one to use up! It can be purchased at various age profiles and while the more aged stuff will last better in your fridge, all of the options out there will be rather sturdy.

Gruyere Recipes to Try:

Gouda

How long it will last: 4 to 6 weeks after opening

Signs of spoilage: Red or black mold, dryness

Gouda comes in a range of options, from the mild, creamy young wheels to the caramelly, crystallized older ones. As with all cheeses, the younger versions won't last in your fridge as long as the older ones.

Gouda Recipes to Try:

Feta in Brine

How long it will last: 3 to 4 weeks after opening

Signs of spoilage: Mold, a yeasty smell

Most cheeses with a higher water content are highly perishable. Feta in brine is a little less so, thanks to the brine it's stored in. The salt in the water keeps the cheese better for longer and prevents most mold growth. The most telltale sign that feta has turned is an unpleasant fermented smell.

Feta Recipes to Try:

Blue

How long it will last: 2 to 3 weeks after opening

Signs of spoilage: Red or black mold, drastic changes in texture, a yeasty smell

Blue cheese, unlike most other cheeses, is best stored in tin foil. Its higher moisture and intentional blue mold make it a bit more finicky. If the texture seems to be disintegrating or drying up, toss it.

Blue Recipes to Try:


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