Cheddar Gone Bad? Know When to Say Goodbye

Cheddar Alert: Keep It Fresh or Toss It?

Cheddar cheese can spoil if left unrefrigerated for too long. It’s safe at room temperature for up to 8 hours but should be stored cool and consumed within days to avoid spoilage.

When Should I Refrigerate Cheddar Cheese?

So, as I’ve already mentioned, cheddar (and cheese in general) tends to taste much better when served at room temperature.

Okay, this may be slightly different when served with something else, e.g., in a sandwich.

However, if ever you’ve enjoyed a cheese board, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Therefore, it makes a great deal of sense to keep the cheese at room temperature for at least 30-45 minutes before serving/eating it.

With that being said, there is a general rule of thumb for how long you can let the cheese sit out.

This largely depends on its moisture content.

Soft cheeses have a higher moisture content and, therefore, should not sit out for more than two hours.

However, hard cheese, such as cheddar, should be fine at room temperature for up to 8 hours.

You’ll generally notice that fat starts to seep out of cheddar the longer it is left at room temperature.

This will give it a greasy appearance, as well as alter its texture.

Now, I have mentioned that this is a “general rule of thumb,” but this isn’t always the case.

🧀 Know Your Cheese: Spotting Spoilage Signs 🚫

Mold Growth Look for unusual spots or fuzzy areas. Not all mold is harmful, but some can be a sign of spoilage.
Sour or Off Smell A strong, sour odor is a clear indicator that your cheese might have gone bad.
Discoloration Any unusual color changes or darkening of the cheese can signal spoilage.
Slimy or Dry Texture Changes in texture, like sliminess or excessive dryness, can indicate that the cheese is no longer good.
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Has Cheese Always Been Refrigerated?

You do realize that there is absolutely no need to refrigerate cheddar cheese?

If you think about it, cheese itself was discovered around 8000 BC

Cheddar cheese was first developed around the 12th century in the village of Cheddar, Somerset, England, UK.

And the modern refrigeration process wasn’t invented until 1834.

We managed to go a few hundred years without cheddar needing to be refrigerated (and a few thousand years without cheese in general needing to be refrigerated).

So clearly, there is a way around this.

All those years ago, cheese was generally stored in pots that contained salt and brine.

And this would help to maintain its freshness.

How to store Cheddar cheese

How Do I Store Cheddar Cheese Without Refrigeration?

The aging process happens to be one of the most important factors in cheese making in general.

Once a fresh block of cheese has been created, it is typically stored at a temperature of 50-59F.

Cheese is stored at this temperature (so without being refrigerated) for many weeks, months, and in some cases, even years.

The aging process improves the quality of cheese, so it should be obvious by now that refrigeration isn’t imperative.

With that being said, there are certain things you should do to keep cheddar in tip-top condition.

Firstly, you must ensure that it is kept away from direct sunlight and heat.

Then you should wrap your cheddar in a vinegar-dampened cheesecloth.

This should then be placed on parchment or wax paper.

And finally, store it in a cool, dark area.

This process is best used on aged (mature) cheddar, and it will keep for a good 2-3 months


How to store Cheddar cheese

Is Your Cheese Still Good After a Night Out?

One of the most common questions cheese lovers ask is, “If cheese is left out overnight, is it still good?”

This query often arises after hosting gatherings or simply forgetting to put the cheese back in the fridge.

When it comes to cheese out of the fridge, especially for an entire night, the answer isn’t always straightforward and depends on several factors.

Firstly, it’s essential to consider the type of cheese.

Hard cheeses, like cheddar, can fare better outside the fridge compared to softer cheeses like brie or goat cheese.

The dense structure of hard cheeses makes them less prone to bacteria growth.

However, even hard cheeses have their limits.

If you’ve left a block of cheddar out on the counter overnight, check for any signs of spoilage such as mold, off-odor, or discoloration before deciding to consume it.

Temperature plays a crucial role too.

If your room temperature is relatively cool, the cheese might survive the night unscathed.

However, in warmer conditions, the likelihood of spoilage increases.

Remember, the danger zone for foodborne bacteria is between 40°F and 140°F.

If your room falls within this range, it’s safer to err on the side of caution.

In conclusion, while some cheeses might survive a night out of the fridge, it’s best to assess each situation carefully.

Look for spoilage signs and consider the cheese type and room temperature.

When in doubt, it’s safer to discard the cheese to avoid any risks of foodborne illnesses.

Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to cheese-out-of-fridge dilemmas!

Why Traditional English Cheddar is Aged in Caves

Final Thoughts

  • Cheddar cheese can spoil if left unrefrigerated, similar to how milk sours when not kept cold.
  • Signs of spoilage include mold, a sour smell, and a slimy texture – think of the unpleasant change in bread when it molds.
  • Safe storage mirrors storing leftovers properly – cheddar should be wrapped and refrigerated, like how you’d store cooked chicken.
  • Cheddar can be left out for a limited time, akin to how you’d leave a cake out during a party, but it should be refrigerated afterward.
  • If mold appears, cut around it, similar to removing bruised parts from an apple, to salvage the rest of the cheese.

So, as you can see, there are a couple of answers as to whether cheddar cheese goes bad if not refrigerated.

Firstly, cheddar cheese (and most hard cheeses) is absolutely fine to sit out for up to 8 hours.

However, when left uncovered, they will start to seep fat, which will change the texture and give cheddar a greasy appearance.

With that being said, cheddar and other cheese have been stored before refrigeration was even invented.

So, in the modern day and age, you can certainly keep cheddar well-wrapped and stored in a cool, dark place for 2-3 months.

So, if you were wondering why Subway doesn’t use Cheddar anymore, then you know it has nothing to do with refrigeration.

What’s your next step with cheddar cheese?

How does the knowledge about the proper storage of cheddar cheese and its shelf life outside the fridge influence your approach to cheese preservation?

Let us know in the comments below!

How to store Cheddar cheese


Q1: How long can cheddar cheese stay out of the fridge?
A1: Cheddar cheese can generally stay out of the fridge for about 4-6 hours. Beyond this, it risks spoilage, especially in warm temperatures.

Q2: What are the signs of bad cheddar cheese?
A2: Look for mold, sour smell, slimy texture, or discoloration. These are indicators that the cheddar cheese has gone bad.

Q3: Can you eat cheddar cheese that has been left out overnight?
A3: It’s not recommended to eat cheddar cheese left out overnight as it may have begun to spoil, increasing the risk of foodborne illness.

Q4: How should cheddar cheese be stored for best quality?
A4: Store cheddar cheese in the fridge, wrapped in wax paper, parchment paper, or cheese paper, then in a plastic bag or container.

Q5: Can cheddar cheese be frozen for a longer shelf life?
A5: Yes, cheddar cheese can be frozen for up to 6 months. However, freezing may alter its texture, making it crumblier.

Q6: Is it safe to cut off the mold and eat the remaining cheese?
A6: Yes, if mold appears on cheddar cheese, you can cut at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot. The remaining cheese is generally safe to eat.

Q7: What is the best way to serve cheddar cheese that has been refrigerated?
A7: Allow refrigerated cheddar cheese to sit at room temperature for about 30-60 minutes before serving for the best flavor and texture.

Q8: Can cheddar cheese be left out for a cheeseboard?
A8: Yes, cheddar cheese can be left out for a cheeseboard for a few hours. However, it should be refrigerated if not consumed within this timeframe.

Q9: How does aging affect the shelf life of cheddar cheese?
A9: Aged cheddar cheeses generally have a longer shelf life than younger ones, but they still need refrigeration to prevent spoilage.

Q10: Are there any health risks associated with eating spoiled cheddar cheese?
A10: Eating spoiled cheddar cheese can lead to food poisoning, characterized by symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Always check for spoilage signs before consumption.

How to store Cheddar cheese

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