How do I Store Cheese Properly?

Janis Adams

The process in which cheese is stored is vital to maintaining its flavor and to the length of time that it will continue to be edible. Different types of cheese require different methods of storage to best preserve their freshness. For the best storage results, store cheese in the refrigerator or the freezer.

A small bowl of grated Parmesan cheese.
A small bowl of grated Parmesan cheese.

Regardless of the type of cheese and whether it is to be stored in the refrigerator or the freezer, the first step in preserving cheese is to wrap it properly. It is best to use plastic wrap to store cheese, as it does not give off a metallic taste as aluminum foil may tend to do. Wrap the cheese tightly, making sure that no air can reach it. This will prevent it from losing both moisture and weight.

Proper storage of cheese helps preserve its freshness.
Proper storage of cheese helps preserve its freshness.

Cheese stored in the refrigerator can last approximately a month. To store cheese longer than this 30-day period, it is best to freeze it. Cheeses that freeze well and maintain their flavor and proper consistency when stored properly are cheddar, Parmesan, and Swiss, among others.

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Cheddar cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for a month, and it freezes well.
Cheddar cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for a month, and it freezes well.

For the best results when storing cheese, it should be frozen immediately if it is not going to be used. The longer the cheese remains unfrozen, the more likely it will be that the cheese will loose its flavor and desirable texture. Prior to freezing, slice the cheese into even slabs. To store cheese that is thick in one area while thin in another will cause irregular results in the flavor and the texture of the cheese when it is defrosted.

Cheese wheels aging on shelves.
Cheese wheels aging on shelves.

When cheese has been frozen, it is best not to bring it to room temperature too quickly. Instead, store cheese in the refrigerator a day before it is to be served to begin the thawing process. This will facilitate a slow thaw that will best preserve the true nature of the cheese and keep its flavor from being marred. Take the cheese out of the refrigerator approximately an hour before serving so it can slowly come to room temperature.

After storing cheese, if it has a consistency that is not desirable, it should not be discarded. Instead, it may be used in cooking and recipes that call for melted cheese. If cheese gets a spot or section of surface mold, it should not be discarded. Instead, the molded part and a small amount of the cheese surrounding the area should be cut off. The cheese can then be used as it normally would be without concern of any ill effects. When cheese is treated with a bit of care, it can have a longer life than previously thought.

Cheese should usually be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
Cheese should usually be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

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