Does vacuum-sealed cheese need to be refrigerated?

In this article, we will answer the question “Does vacuum-sealed cheese need to be refrigerated?”, how long can you leave vacuum-sealed cheese at room temperature, how to store vacuum-sealed cheese, how to store cheese, how long does cheese last, and how to tell if the cheese is safe to eat.

Does vacuum-sealed cheese need to be refrigerated?

It depends on the type of cheese. If the vacuum-sealed cheese is a type of soft cheese such as cream cheese, cottage cheese, shredded cheeses, and goat cheese, refrigeration is a must.

In case the vacuum-sealed cheese is a type of hard cheese, refrigeration is not mandatory. But it is recommended since refrigeration prolongs the shelf-life of the hard cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan, etc.

How long can you leave the vacuum-sealed cheese at room temperature?

Hard cheeses should be fine sitting at room temperature as long as a cool temperature is maintained. If it is a soft type of cheese, it should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. 

If the outside temperature is higher than 90F, the safety window is reduced to one hour only. It is because bacteria grow exponentially at temperatures between 40-140F. Therefore, this temperature range is called the danger zone.

How to store vacuum-sealed cheese?

Vacuum-sealing does not make the cheese impossible to go bad. You must take precautionary measures. If you are vacuum-sealing your cheese at home, wrap the cheese in wax paper or parchment paper first. 

The paper will keep the surface of the cheese dry by absorbing the excess moisture, thereby, preventing spoilage.

How to store cheese?

The first step is to wrap your cheese in something light and airy. This means you cannot choose plastic for wrapping because it would not allow for any ventilation. Therefore, you should opt for cheese paper or parchment paper.

Take a generous piece of the cheese paper and wrap it tightly around the cheese. Secure the paper in place by taping it.

Refrigerate your cheese after wrapping. When you unwrap your cheese for use, re-wrap the leftovers before refrigerating. Although you can freeze your cheese, it is not recommended.

Freezing ruins the texture of the cheese, especially the soft cheeses. If you intend to use the cheese in cooking, freezing might be an option. 

Hard cheeses

Hard cheeses have little moisture and we want to lock it in to preserve the freshness of the cheese. For this purpose, you should wrap the hard cheese in a plastic sheet to protect it from the cold and drying refrigerator air.

Blue cheese 

Blue cheese has a very strong flavor and a pungent smell. It is important to contain this smell so that it does not ruin other types of cheeses or food in your fridge. To do this, we recommend double wrapping the blue cheese in cheese paper and then putting it in an air-tight container.

Soft cheeses 

Soft cheese has a short shelf-life due to its high moisture content. Ironically, this moisture is essential to the freshness of the cheese as well. To prevent the cheese from drying out, you can use plastic wrap or paper wrap. Some types of soft cheeses are stored in an air-tight container.

How long does cheese last?

The shelf-life of the cheese depends on its composition. The shelf-life of the commonly used cheeses is as follows. Note that the following estimated shelf-life periods are for best quality only. 

Cheese Type Shelf-life (after opening) 
Blue Soft 7 days 
Brie Soft 7 days 
Cottage cheese Soft 7 days 
Cream cheese Soft 14 days 
Feta Soft 7 days 
Goat Soft 7 days 
Mozzarella Soft 7 days 
Ricotta Soft 7 days 
American Hard 1-2 months 
Cheddar Hard3-4 weeks 
Colby Hard3-4 weeks
Gouda Hard3-4 weeks
Parmesan Hard3-4 weeks
Shredded Hard3-4 weeks
Swiss Hard3-4 weeks

Unopened blocks of hard cheese have a shelf-life of 6 months in the fridge. Freezing extends the shelf-life of the opened cheese for up to 6 months.

How to tell if the cheese is safe to eat?

Cheese usually comes with a best-by date instead of an expiry date. The former is related to the quality of the cheese and has little to do with its safety. 

In other words, you can safely eat your cheese if it is past the printed date as long as it was stored correctly and exhibits no signs of spoilage.

If the cheese has foreign mold growing on the surface, cut 1-inch around and below the moldy spot and salvage the rest of the cheese. However, this only applies to hard cheese. Toss the whole thing if the soft cheese becomes moldy.

The development of white crystallized patches on the surface of aged hard cheeses like cheddar, parmesan, and Gouda is a false alarm. The crystals form when calcium reacts with lactic acid to form calcium lactate, which is safe to eat.

Some types of cheese have a very pungent smell which is not a sign of spoilage. But no types of cheese should give off a chlorine or ammonia-like odor. Toss the cheese if it does.

Conclusion 

In this article, we answered the question “Does vacuum-sealed cheese need to be refrigerated?”, how long can you leave vacuum-sealed cheese at room temperature, how to store vacuum-sealed cheese, how to store cheese, how long does cheese last, and how to tell if the cheese is safe to eat.

References 

https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/Does-all-cheese-need-to-be-refrigerated#:~:text=Soft%20cheeses%20such%20as%20cream,last%20longer%20if%20kept%20refrigerated

https://from.bellevuealumnae.org/qa/do-you-need-to-refrigerate-vacuum-sealed-cheese/#1

https://food52.com/blog/9235-how-to-store-cheese

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-long-does-cheese-last-in-the-fridge#shelf-life

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