Can Cheddar Cheese Be Left Out? and Last?

Do you love cheddar cheese? Do you hate having to refrigerate it every time you want to eat some? You’re not alone! Cheddar cheese can be left out of the fridge for a while without going bad.

How Long Does Cheddar Cheese Last?
How Long Does Cheddar Cheese Last?

In this blog post, we will answer all of your questions about cheddar cheese and how long it lasts!

How long can cheddar cheese be left out unrefrigerated?

Cheddar cheese can technically be left out of the fridge for a short period of time without going bad. It will have a 3-day shelf life in general (1). Subsequently, needed to be kept in the fridge.

However, most sources do not recommend leaving it out for more than eight hours for hard cheese like parmesan or cheddar. Read Can Parmesan Goes Bad.

The rate of spoilage largely depends on the environment, temperature, humidity, aging, etc. Most of the time, the quality of the cheese goes downhill slowly after 5 hours and could be a little longer if the moisture in the cheese is low.

Cheddar is pretty dry. It has a moisture content of 38% maximum or lower if aged for a very long time, say 2 years or more. Younger cheddar is more vulnerable.

Also, the processed cheddars usually have a higher moisture content, thus spoils faster. They will usually add things like modified starch, cellulose, or natamycin (mold inhibitors). For example the Tillamook and Kraft shredded cheddar.

Real cheddar is made without all these, therefore I would recommend getting a good quality cheddar from the store and grate it yourself at home.

So in short, you could probably leave the cheddar out for a while in a clean dry environment. Ideally, always best to pop it in the fridge!

The signs of Cheddar Cheese Gone Bad

It’s dangerous to eat spoiled cheese as it might carry harmful bacteria which can cause food poisoning. The signs of cheddar cheese gone bad are similar to other types of cheese.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Mold or discoloration on the surface
  • Change in texture, such as becoming sticky or rubbery
  • Off or sour odor

If you see any of these signs, it is best to discard the cheese

Cheddar cheese, like all other cheeses, will have mold spores on the surface. These are harmless and help in the ripening process (more on that below).

Some are waxed to minimize the surface mold. Some of the cave-aged cheddar might be clothbound but you will still see the patches after removed.

It may look less appealing, but these are actually made on-purpose and quite different from the mold that grew out of your fridge. So, do not expect them to continue to age well in your fridge.

You can tell if cheddar is bad when it starts to form white or greenish-white patches of mold. The color will also start to fade, and the texture will become crumbly. If you see any of these signs, it’s time to toss your cheddar.

If the affected area is small, trim it and enjoy the rest.

How Long does Cheddar Cheese Last?

Cheddar, like all cheese, is perishable. That said, it can last a long time in the fridge if you store it properly. If stored at or below 40°F, unopened cheddar can last up to two months after its best before date. Once opened, a regular cheddar will last for about a week to two weeks.

Cheddar cheese can be kept in the freezer for six months or more. When freezing cheddar, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and place it in a resealable freezer bag. Be sure to write the date.

When thawing cheddar cheese, place it in the fridge overnight. Learn more about freezing cheddar cheese.

How to Store Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar is a fairly hardy cheese, but it can still go bad. To avoid this, make sure to store it properly. Cheddar should be wrapped in wax paper or parchment paper and placed in a container.

In addition, rub a little flavorless olive or vegetable oil onto the surface. It’ll create a barrier against mold and drying out, thus helping the cheddar last a little longer.

If you’re going to eat it within a week, you can just keep it in its original packaging.

If you have a cheese drawer, that’s even better as cheese tends to absorb flavors from other food. So, it’s best to isolate it.

Just remember: The longer cheddar sits in your fridge, the more its flavor will fade. So try to use it up within a week for the best taste.

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