Unless you're entertaining it's unlikely you'll eat an entire block of cheese in one go. You need to store it so that it stays fresh and in its original condition for as long as possible. The best way to store cheese is simple but we guess that most people don't follow best practice. We’re about to show you how to store cheese so that it retains its flavor and texture without those unpleasant hard edge bits or early signs of mold. You will also get some super-helpful cheese storage tips, freezing advice, and more.
How do I store cheese?
To store cheese, your best option is to remove the original plastic wrapping and use cheese paper to wrap the cheese. Use paper that is at least three times the size of the cheese block so that it sufficiently covers it. Once wrapped, place it in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator, or alternatively, towards the back of the fridge to avoid temperature fluctuation when the door opens.
Step 1: Discard the plastic wrapper
People most commonly keep their cheese wrapped in the original packaging. But it is a living organism that breathes, sweats, and ages, a lot like humans. Plastic isn’t a good protective cover because it restricts oxygen intake resulting in unwanted bacteria and additional flavors.
Step 2: Get some cheese paper
The best wrapping you can use is cheese paper as it stops the cheese from drying out and also allows it to breathe. It isn't commonly sold in supermarkets but cheese specialty stores are your best option. If you can't get your hands on cheese paper use parchment paper as a useful backup or aluminum foil if you're in a pinch.
Step 3: Wrap the cheese
- To wrap your cheese, use scissors to cut a paper square that is about three times the size of your cheese block.
- Place the cheese in the middle of the paper, ensuring the bottom of the block is parallel to the bottom of the sheet.
- Lift the top and bottom edges of the paper up until they’re touching each other and fold them both over to make a 2” fold. Continue folding over at 2” intervals until you reach the cheese.
- On each side of the cheese fold the corners down tightly and wrap the block like you would a gift. Use tape on each side to secure the wrapping.
- If you have more than one piece of cheese to store, use a pen to label its type to avoid confusion. You can also write the date, so you know how long it has been sitting there.
- Finally, store the wrapped cheese in an airtight container; this will stop the cheese emitting odors and will help regulate the moisture levels.
Video demonstrating cheese wrapping
How long can cheese be stored in the refrigerator?
When wrapped correctly, soft cheese like Camembert or Brie will last 1-2 weeks chilled, while hard cheese such as Parmesan will last 4-6 weeks.
How long will it last refrigerated?
|Cheese (Opened)||Lasts for|
|Soft cheese (Brie, feta)||1-2 weeks|
|Sliced semi-hard cheese||2 weeks|
|Semi-hard cheese block (gouda, cheddar)||4-6 weeks|
|Shredded hard cheese||2-4 weeks|
|Hard cheese block (parmesan)||4-6 weeks|
Cheese storage tips
- Ammonia can develop if the wrapping is too tight so make sure there is a little breathing room when wrapping cheese, especially when using aluminum foil.
- Extend the life of your cheese by replacing the cheese wrapping after each use. This will help reduce cross-contamination from dirty fingers and other ingredients touching the wrapper.
- Store cheese at around 41-45°F (5-7°C) for best results; to help stop the cheese from drying out you can store it in the vegetable drawer.
- To get the best out of your cheese, remove it from the fridge 1-2 hours before serving, depending on the climate where you live.
- If you discover mold on cheese then it can be sliced off. The remaining block may still be okay so long as it doesn’t have any acrid, ammonia-like smell or unusual spots. You may also want to read up on why cheese smells here.
Can I freeze cheese?
Although most cheese won't have the same texture after freezing it, it will retain its taste and cooking properties quite well. If you plan on using block or shredded cheese in recipes, like melting Parmesan into pasta or adding Emmental to a soup then freezing is a good option. Where presentation is important, such as serving up cheese cubes as an appetizer, avoid the frozen stuff.
The type of cheese has an impact on whether to freeze it or not. Soft cheeses like Gorgonzola or Brie should never be frozen. High moisture cheeses like Mozzarella can be frozen, but the texture will deteriorate. Once frozen, it is best melted so that the reduced quality won't be noticed.
To freeze a block of cheese, slice it into small portions that you’re likely to eat in 2-3 days. Wrap the blocks in cling film or aluminum foil then place them in a freezer bag; label with cheese variety and date before storing towards the back of the freezer.
Cheese can be frozen for 6-9 months for the best quality. When it comes time to use it, the frozen cheese can be added directly into food that’s being cooked. Alternatively, thaw a block at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator overnight, then use within the next 3 days.
What cheese can I freeze?
|Cream cheese||Not ideal|
|Shredded or grated cheese||Yes|
Commonly asked questions
Do I need to refrigerate cheese?
Shredded cheese, goat cheese, and soft cheeses need to be kept in the fridge for food safety reasons. Hard cheeses like Parmesan can be stored in a cool, dry location such as a cellar, but refrigerating will extend its life. Whole rounds of cheese covered in rind or wax can usually be stored out of the fridge too.
Can I freeze shredded cheese?
Although it is best to refrigerate shredded cheese, it can be frozen and then melted into dishes like chili, soup, pasta, and pizza. Once shredded cheese is defrosted it tends to clump and become soggy - not ideal for use in salads or sandwiches.
The way cheese is stored can have a big impact on its life expectancy and quality. Removing the original wrapping and using cheese paper, parchment paper, or aluminum foil will help the cheese stay fresh and tasty for longer. Storing cheese in the vegetable crisper is a good option, but if you’re struggling for space then keep it at the back of the fridge where the temperature stays more constant.
Do you love cheese? Check out our illustrated guide which shows how to make cheddar cheese. Make your own and you'll never want the store-bought product again.
What is your favorite type of cheese? Please let us know in the comments below.