Cheese is one of the most delicious forms of dairy there is. It can be enjoyed on its own or as part of a number of mouth-watering dishes.
While soft cheeses tend to spoil faster due to their higher water content, hard cheeses can last a long time after the expiration date, if stored and cared for properly.
While some foods do not appreciate cold environments, hard cheese can be safely kept in the refrigerator or even in the freezer to guarantee that it lasts as long as you can consume all of it.
What’s the bottom line?
There are a variety of hard cheeses, like Cheddar, Parmesan, Gouda, and Edam. While each one has a different shelf life, most of them will last for months after the expiration date.
Make sure you keep your hard cheeses away from moisture and heat and keep an eye out for mold.
Signs Your Hard Cheese Has Gone Bad
The most obvious sign that your hard cheese is spoiling is when it starts to develop mold. However, this doesn’t mean you have to throw the entire hard cheese out. You can simply cut the parts that have mold and keep the rest of the hard cheese. Make sure to cut not only the part with mold but an extra inch, to make sure no part of the spoiled cheese is left behind so that you don’t accidentally consume something that could harm you.
If you have a container or a bag with grated or shredded hard cheese and you spot some mold in there, then you should throw out all of the cheese because it is hard to make sure you found all the mold.
Hard cheese can also become drier and darker over time. This doesn’t necessarily mean the hard cheese has gone bad, but the texture and the taste of those sections won’t be as tasty and pleasant to eat like the rest of the cheese.
If your hard cheese starts smelling off, it’s time to throw it out.
How To Store Hard Cheese
Most hard cheeses need to be refrigerated. The easiest and safest way to store big blocks of hard cheese is to either keep them tightly wrapped in their own package or saran wrap or store them in a container with a good lid so that it doesn’t come into contact with too much moisture when you place it in the fridge.
If you buy your hard cheese in slices instead of in blocks, it is advisable to place it in a container in the fridge to prevent it from becoming dry and hard.
Some shredded and grated hard cheese can be found in stores outside the refrigerator, which usually indicates it will last longer at room temperature. It is advisable, though, to keep them in the fridge when the package is open. Grated or shredded cheese that is sold in the refrigerated section should immediately be refrigerated when you take it home. These types of hard cheeses usually come in a resealable bag, so there is no need to transfer them into a container, as long as you keep the bag tightly sealed between uses.
All forms of hard cheese can be frozen to last longer, especially if you don’t tend to use them a lot. The texture of the hard cheeses may change when frozen as they sometimes become dried and tend to crumble more easily but they are still safe to eat.
How Long Does Hard Cheese Last
All types of hard cheese tend to last about the same time past the expiration date. The harder the cheese, the longer it will last. This means that hard cheeses like Parmesan can last from 2 to 4 months in the fridge, unopened, and 3 to 6 weeks when opened. When you freeze this type of hard cheese it usually lasts between 6 to 8 months, regardless of being open or not.
Cheddar can be safely kept for 4 to 6 months if it’s unopened and 3 to 4 weeks if it had been opened.
Edam and Gouda last significantly less, only about a month unopened and 2 weeks if opened.
Grated or shredded hard cheese doesn’t last very long after the expiration date. Most types will last only one week after the best by date if unopened and a maximum of one week, regardless of the expiration date, if opened.
The Verdict On Hard Cheese
Most hard cheeses will last a couple of weeks after the expiration date once they have been opened and kept in the fridge. If you store your hard cheeses in the fridge before opening them, they can last months after the expiration date.
Keep in mind that you should always store your hard cheese carefuly once you open it, preferably in an airtight container.
If you are only going to use a piece of the hard cheese, it’s advisable to freeze the rest of it so that it doesn’t spoil.
Grated and shredded hard cheese has a much shorter shelf life than blocks or slices of cheese.
If you are a die-hard fan of cheese, take a look at these recipes that celebrate this delicious food.