Fished out a tub of cream cheese from the back of your refrigerator and wondering if it’s gone bad?
Look no further.
Today, we’ll be breaking down how to tell if your cream cheese is bad, as well as how to store it, whether opened or unopened.
Now. Don’t get confused between cottage cheese and cream cheese. They’re similar, made through curdling milk with acid. However, cream cheese retains more moisture and is blended so that it’s spreadable.
Want the lowdown and fast?
If you see any big changes in how your cottage cheese looks, smells, or tastes, it’s best to throw it away. Keep your cottage cheese in the fridge to prevent it from going bad later on, whether it’s open or not.
How To Tell If Your Cream Cheese Is Off
As with other dairy products, you should judge cream cheese by appearance, smell, then taste – and in that order.
In terms of appearance, look for mold on the tub or in the cream cheese. Don’t even consider spooning out the bad bits and eating the rest – soft cheese allows mold to permeate throughout easily.
You should also check for dryness, clumpiness, or other changes in texture.
Feel free to give your cream cheese a sniff too. If it smells of anything but creamy goodness, throw it away.
If your cream cheese has passed all the above tests, then you’ll be okay to try a little bit, even if it has started to go bad.
Tastes sour? Time to go.
How To Store Cream Cheese
Storing cream cheese follows a very similar protocol to storing cottage cheese due to their similar ingredients and manufacturing processes.
After purchasing your tub of cream cheese, pop it in the refrigerator straight away.
Once opened, remove the foil seal and replace the plastic lid before putting the tub back in the fridge. If you want to be extra diligent, transfer your cream cheese to an airtight container.
If you’ve stocked up on dozens of tubs of cream cheese to cook with in a few months’ time, you should consider freezing your cream cheese. Either chuck the aluminum foil-sealed tub in the freezer or transfer your opened cream cheese to a freezer container.
One thing to note. Freezing your cream cheese will cause changes in consistency, most notably a crumbly texture.
Provided you haven’t left your cream cheese in the freezer for over a few months, it will still work exactly the same in cooking, but it won’t be pleasant spread on your crispbread.
How Long Will My Cream Cheese Last?
Cream cheese, like almost all other dairy products, does go bad pretty quickly. Plus, because cream cheese is a soft cheese, it goes bad faster due to the additional moisture.
Although it’s recommended that you go by the dates on the label, unopened cream cheese is usually safe and good to eat 2-3 weeks after its expiration date, provided it’s been stored appropriately in the refrigerator.
Once your cream cheese tub has been opened, it will last 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. You can extend this period by avoiding using dirty utensils and storing your cream cheese in an airtight container instead of the unsealed tub.
None of this applies if you have cream cheese that has been specially processed. For example, heat-processed cream cheeses can last up to 6 months in the refrigerator, and some are even okay in your pantry before opening.
But don’t go storing your cream cheese in the pantry if it doesn’t explicitly say you can do so on the label.
If in doubt, the fridge is always your safest bet, whether your tub of cream cheese is opened or unopened.
For cream cheese that you want to last for up to 1-2 months, opt for the freezer. Any longer, and your cream cheese will be too dry, even to cook with. Remember to thaw your frozen cheese overnight.
So, Does Cream Cheese Go Bad?
Yep, it certainly does.
Plus, it’s a soft cheese, so it goes faster than hard cheese, like cheddar.
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to check whether it’s gone bad – through appearance, smell, and taste – and heat-processed cream cheese can last up to 6 months in the fridge!