- Hard (e.g. parmesan), semi-hard (e.g. cheddar) and semi-soft cheeses (e.g. fontina) should be stored in the refrigerator. Cheeses should be wrapped in cling wrap or another method that keeps air out.
- Cheese can be frozen to extend its life, but freezing may alter the taste and texture of the cheese. All frozen cheese should be thawed in the refrigerator and not at room temperature.
- Do not store cheese with other strong-smelling foods. As a cheese breathes it will absorb other aromas and may spoil.
- The shelf life of cheeses varies from one type to another. Generally, the softer the cheese, the shorter the shelf life. For example, Parmesan block is a very hard cheese and, if properly stored, can last for years; while Ricotta is quite soft and has a short shelf life.
Understanding Dates on Packaging:
“Use by” and “Best by”:
These dates are intended for consumer use, but are typically the date the manufacturer deems the product reaches peak freshness. It’s not a date to indicate spoilage, nor does it necessarily signal that the food is no longer safe to eat. The Best By date is placed on all cheeses that improve with age. The Best By date is set on the basis that the cheese will be at, or just over, the “peak of maturity” on that date. Therefore, a cheese that passed its “Best By” date may still be perfectly good. It is just a matter of taste.
This date is only intended to help manufacturers and retailers, not consumers. It’s a stocking and marketing tool provided by food makers to ensure proper turnover of the products in the store so they still have a long shelf life after consumers buy them. Consumers, however, often misinterpret it as a date to guide their buying decisions.
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