How Long Can Cheese Sit Out?

Cheeses are not supposed to sit out for a long time. Did you know that cheese is a living thing? Yes, it literally is! It even breathes, sweats, and dies! Because cheese is made from penicillin which is a living mold. We learn in this article how long can cheese sit out.

Therefore, when you wrap cheese using plastic wrap, it will suffocate. As a result, there will be an unwanted growth of bacteria, and your cheese will simply spoil. If you don’t want to face it, you need to know how long the cheese can sit out and how you can store them properly.

Let us take care of it, we have come up with the most useful information regarding the topic here. So, you have to do nothing but keep reading.

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Basic Know-How About Different Cheeses

This section will make you understand that not all cheeses have the same shelf lives. Individual cheese categories can sit out individually. Also, it varies from many different factors like whether the cheese package is opened or unopened.

Basically, cheeses are divided into two categories- hard cheese and soft cheese. There are some specific types of cheeses like Parmesan, Pecorino, Swiss cheese, Dutch cheese, American cheese, and so on that last for a different duration from each other.

For example, soft cheese has a very shorter shelf life compared to hard cheeses.

How Long Does Cheese Last Out of A Fridge?

In simple words, you can expect cheese to last out of a fridge from somewhere between 4 to 8 hours.

More specifically, hard cheese can sit out for up to 8 hours at room temperature whereas soft cheese can sit out for up to 4 hours only.

It’s because hard cheese has lower moisture content and soft cheese is just the opposite.

Since soft cheeses come with comparatively high moisture, it results in bacterial growth. In case you have any leftover soft cheese around, refrigerate it as soon as possible.

However, it doesn’t mean you should let hard cheese sit out for hours. Well, though hard cheese won’t spoil within 8 hours if you sit it out after 4 or 5 hours, the cheese will start drying out. Or, perhaps, it just may lose its amazing appearance after 4 or 5 hours.

So, if we are talking from a quality point of view, we will recommend refrigerating both the hard and soft cheese as soon as you are done with them.

But you are completely wrong if you think that cheese can last in the fridge for days, months, or years. There are also limitations to keeping your cheese in the fridge. For example, you can store hard cheeses like Pecorino, Grana Padano, and Parmesan, for 4-6 months if they are unopened.

And, if your cheeses are still unopened, they will be okay in the refrigerator even one or two months after the date on their label.

But if the package is open, your cheese will be retaining its quality for only one or two months, in the refrigerator. It’s better to wrap hard cheese in breathable packages such as wax paper, cheesecloth, and parchment paper. Or, you can use an airtight container instead.

Since hard cheeses have low moisture content, they freeze very well. If you ask when you should toss them, well, when you see them totally covered in mold, say goodbye to them.

What If You Eat Spoiled Cheese?

Since you are concerned about how long does cheese last, you are concerned about the outcome of eating spoiled or moldy cheese as well. But how can you understand that your cheese is spoiled and you can no longer eat this? Okay, let me explain.

The very first sign of a spoiled slice of cheese is mold. As we said before, mold is considered worse when it’s on soft cheese. So, whenever you notice mold on soft cheese, you should not delay tossing it. Throw it right away!

But if there’s mold on hard cheese, you can cut off that moldy part. Then, eat the rest of the cheese, it’s totally safe. But make sure you keep your knife out of the mold to prevent the other part of your cheese from contamination.

Then, what’s wrong with soft cheese? Soft cheese comes with high moisture content, there’s a risk of being contaminated beyond the moldy area’s surface.

Also, the bad smell and taste will help you to be sure that the cheese is not good. If you get a bad taste or smell like sour milk, chances are the cheese is spoiled.

So, this is how you can determine whether your cheese is spoiled or not.

Now, let’s see what happens if you eat spoiled (e.g moldy) cheese.

  • In the best-case scenario, nothing will happen. You only may experience a bad taste or maybe your stomach becomes upset.
  • Not the best or worst, in-between scenario, you can face an allergic reaction. Or perhaps, foodborne illnesses or respiratory issues occur.
  • And, in the worst-case scenario, you can be hospitalized. And, you may even need to be put on dialysis. In fact, spoiled cheese is more dangerous for a person who is immunocompromised.

However, to practice the ‘safety first’ rule, it’s better if you toss the cheese. More importantly, if there’s anyone at high risk in your household or there are children around you.

How to Store Cheese In The Best Way?

We mentioned in the introduction that if you wrap your cheese with a plastic cover, then it will suffocate over time and result in being spoiled. So, what is the best thing you can do? Let’s see!

You Will Need

  • Parchment paper or cheese paper
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • A marker

Step 1: Cut A Wrapping Paper

Take a large (2 to 3 times the size of the cheese) wrapping paper and cut it off. Then, put down the cheese on the paper. Put it diagonally, make sure the thinner end of your cheese stays at the center and the thicker end stays at one corner of the paper.

Step 2: Fold Over the Corner of The Paper

Now, hold the wrapping paper and fold its corner over the fat end of your cheese. Then, you will want to flatten the wrapping paper along one side. It’s just like how you wrap a present for someone.

The side you flattened right now, pull this side across your cheese. Then, crease and go through the same process once again. But this time, do this to the opposite side of your cheese. Pull the paper tightly.

Step 3: Fold the Tail of The Paper

Fold the tail of the wrapping paper and stick out the cheese’s end. Then, pull the tail up to the thicker part of your cheese. Finally, use tape to secure your perfectly wrapped cheese.

It’s a good idea to write down what type of cheese it is and keep the note in the package. It will help you to determine the type of any cheese without unwrapping it.

Now, you can put the cheese in the fridge.

Additional Tips to Store Cheese

Here you go with some other useful tips you can follow to store your cheese.

  • If you want to extend shredded cheddar cheese’s shelf life, seal the original packaging tightly. Or, you can simply place the cheddar cheese in an airtight container.
  • When you open the package, either freeze or consume the cheese within the time noted for refrigeration.
  • If you leave the cheese at room temperature for more than the recommended duration, discard the cheese. Because if the temperature is somewhere between 40℉ and 140℉, there’s a huge chance of bacterial growth.
  • If you don’t like frozen cheeses because they lose their flavor and texture, you can thaw them instead. Because thawed cheese works like a champ to cook dishes like soups, sauces, and casseroles.
  • Try to use the cheese before or by the date on its label. It’s more like a matter of taste instead of safety. Manufacturers recommend this to make you understand how long you should expect your cheeses to maintain their taste, optimal flavor, and consistency.
  • Typically expiration dates are conservative, yet you should follow them. They are the indicators of spoiling your cheese. Also, make sure you check on the textures, flavors, and odors along with the expiry dates.
  • If you store cheese in the fridge, make sure you clean the inside of your clean regularly. Cleaning it every few months will work great. It’s better to use baking soda or a bleach solution for cleaning purposes. It will minimize the growth of mold spores in your fridge.
  • Wrap the cheese with breathable wrapping paper (as we mentioned) to prevent mold-creating moisture.

Can You Store Cheese Without Refrigeration?

Since refrigeration changes the texture, appearance, and taste of your cheese, it’s okay to pop this type of question in your mind.

The answer is, yes, you can.

But it works for only some particular cheese types. You can never think of storing soft and creamy cheese out of the fridge for hours. On the other hand, hard cheese such as cheddar is aged and doesn’t require to be in the fridge as soon as soft cheese does.

Still, refrigerating all kinds of cheeses right after you’re done using them is the most riskless way. However, if it’s not an option for you, follow this way below to store cheddar cheese without refrigeration:

  • Use white vinegar to wipe the cut surface of your hard cheese.
  • Once the cheese is dry, remove the traces of vinegar from it.
  • Use a cheesecloth to wrap the cheese (follow the steps we mentioned above).
  • Wrapping with cheesecloth will not work enough. Make sure you use another layer of parchment or wax paper to wrap the cheese.
  • Now, put the wrapped hard cheese away from heat or direct sunlight.

Reminding you once again, this ‘without refrigeration’ case will work only for well-matured sharp cheddar cheese. And, if you follow the directions properly, the cheese should be okay for an extended period without refrigeration.

Should You Throw Away Stinky Cheese All The Time?

No, not all the time. The process of how cheeses are made possesses the answer to why it’s not always bad if your cheese stinks. Even these stinky cheeses are also known as wash-rind cheeses as the cheese curds are stored to age and washed in the brine solution.

And, cheese itself is a dirty product. For this, you may find the cheese smells bad without a particular reason. Nevertheless, if you think it smells like sour milk, chances are the cheese is spoiled and it’s time to throw it away.

Sometimes, you will notice that your cheese smells like dirty feet. It’s because the sweat of your feet contains salt and bacteria love a moist, warm, and salty environment.

When the bacteria eat your cheese, they generally build a shell around your cheese which is called rind. The result is the same odor. It’s okay to eat cheese that smells like feet until you see mold on your cheese.

FAQ: How Long Can Cheese Sit Out?

If I cook the cheese, will it kill bacteria?
Yes, cooking kills bacteria named Listeria. You can cook hard cheese, pasteurized cheese, mozzarella, cottage, and cream cheese.
How can I know that my cheddar cheese is bad?
It will come in a hard texture as well as darken in color. Also, it can spread a strong unpleasant smell like sour milk, and mold may be seen.


By now, you know how long the cheese can sit out. The summary is, how long does cheese last depends on its moisture content.

And, the other factors that matter here are the age of your cheese, the surface area (whether it’s the slide, block, or shredded), and seal (whether it’s a grocery store wrap or factory seal).

However, if you store the cheese as we instructed, you will be less likely to eat bad cheese. Toss the cheese out whenever it seems the right time and stay riskless.

Ryan Martin

Hey I am here to bring you only the most updated and comfortable products to be used in Camping, Hiking, Biking, Traveling, Fishing & Fitness. Our product testers team diligently put each & every items through vigorous trials and only bring you the best out of the bunch.

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