Watching your cottage cheese sitting at the back of your pantry, losing its quality and taste, is not a sight that anybody wants to witness. Since cottage cheese is expensive, one simply cannot bear the thought of throwing it out.
But such jarring consequences can be avoided by undertaking the correct storage techniques.
To make the process easier for you, we have prepared the following guide that will provide all the necessary information regarding the shelf life of cottage cheese. Along with that, we have provided varying ways to store it so that you never have to throw one out.
What is the Shelf-Life of Cottage Cheese?
Cottage Cheese is available with a best-by date mentioned on its label. But you must not confuse it with an expiry date. It lets the users know how long the Cottage Cheese can retain its freshness and quality.
Cottage Cheese producer, Kalona, confirms that their Cottage Cheese stays qualitative and fresh after the best-by date mentioned on the container.
The quality of Cottage Cheese starts degrading after the container is opened. The unopened container of Cottage Cheese lasts longer and stays fresh and flavorsome past its best-by date.
After opening the container, the Cottage Cheese stays fresh and keeps its quality for up to two weeks, as per Daisy Brand. The unopened container of Cottage Cheese lasts for ten days after its best-by date, provided that it is continuously refrigerated or stored in a freezer to keep it good for three months.
Unfortunately, Cottage Cheese is not a shelf-stable item, and hence it won’t last or keep its quality when stored in the pantry.
|Unopened Cottage Cheese in Fridge||Ten Days after Best-by Date|
|Opened Cottage Cheese in Fridge||Seven Days|
|Unopened Cottage Cheese in Freezer||Three Months|
|Opened Cottage Cheese in Freezer||Eight Weeks|
- Consume the Cottage Cheese within two weeks after opening the container, even if the best-by date is in the future.
- The flavored Cottage Cheese comes with preservatives, and hence it tends to last a couple of days more than the plain Cottage Cheese.
What are the Spoilage Signs to Look For in Cottage Cheese?
It is important to know the spoilage signs to prevent you from consuming the rancid Cottage Cheese or adding it to dishes that can ruin the taste. Cottage Cheese is at high risk of getting contaminated by bacteria, so it is important to identify the spoilage signs to know when it is not safe for consumption. Below are the four important signs to tell if your Cottage Cheese has gone bad.
Visual Test of Cottage Cheese
The fresh Cottage Cheese is white and comes in a smooth texture. If you are buying chunky style Cottage Cheese, it must not be overly chunky in appearance.
So, the Cottage Cheese must look the same as you purchased it. If any changes in appearance are noticed, it indicates that the Cottage Cheese has gone bad. If you see any organic growth on the surface or mold, it must be discarded.
Cottage Cheese loses its moisture when it gets spoiled. So, when you see the watery texture of the Cottage Cheese, it is not a good sign, and hence it must be discarded.
Smell Test of Cottage Cheese
Fresh Cottage Cheese comes with a light cheesy aroma. But, when it gets overly pungent with a sour smell, you must not eat it as it indicates that the Cottage Cheese has gone bad. The unpleasant smell of the Cottage Cheese means it has gone bad, and it won’t taste good.
Texture Change of Cottage Cheese
As mentioned earlier, when there is texture change, you must discard it because the Cottage Cheese has gone rancid. Besides, when the Cottage Cheese gets chunky, it is no longer fresh.
Cottage Cheese that has turned grainy must not be consumed as it is no longer fresh. When the Cottage Cheese turns harder or dries out, you must discard it as it is no longer safe for consumption.
Fresh Cottage Cheese has a creamy and light taste. But, when it goes off, the taste becomes overly sour or unpleasant. Besides, when the taste is grainy, it means the Cottage Cheese has gone bad and must be discarded.
What Happens When you Eat Bad Cottage Cheese?
Cottage Cheese is a dairy product, and when it goes off, it can make people sick, including food poisoning. It is because of the mold or bacterial growth that produces toxins and can make you sick if you eat it accidentally.
Anyone who eats bad Cottage Cheese can get food poisoning because of the harmful bacteria that infect the digestive system and tract lining. Besides, the body will experience adverse reactions while making you sick.
Some of the conditions people may experience after eating rancid Cottage Cheese are gas bloating, stomach discomfort, vomiting, nausea, stomach cramping, and diarrhea.
It is suggested to stay hydrated when the symptoms develop. So, drink plenty of water and herbal teas to recover faster.
You must not consume rich beverages like dairy milk when experiencing the symptoms. The symptoms will alleviate within 48 hours. But, if the symptoms are persistent after 48 hours, it is best to consult a doctor.
Can You Freeze Cottage Cheese? Refrigerated Vs. Shelf Stable
Like all other dairy products, freezing is allowed for Cottage Cheese, but it comes at a cost.
Cottage Cheese is likely to separate and release water when thawed after freezing. So freezing is possible, but it comes at a cost.
By stirring, you can fix the separation to an extent, but it won’t get back to its original texture. Frozen Cottage Cheese is best in casseroles, sauces, soups, and cooked meals.
Frozen Cottage Cheese lasts longer, but it must be consumed within four days after thawing. Avoid refreezing the Cottage Cheese because it reduces the quality significantly.
Freezing helps reduce the chance of bacterial growth and extends the shelf-life of Cottage Cheese.
According to USDA, any soft cheese, including Cottage Cheese, must be refrigerated for safety. After opening the Cottage Cheese container, you must refrigerate it and cover it tightly, either in an airtight container or in the original packaging.
Cottage Cheese that is consistently refrigerated after opening will stay fresh for ten days. Cottage Cheese lasts and keeps its quality until the best-by date mentioned on the label and ten days extra if refrigerated consistently.
But, as you open the container, it can last up to two weeks, even if the best-by date is in the future. But, you have to store it in airtight and sealed containers in the fridge after opening.
Cottage Cheese is not a stable-shelf product, and hence it is not safe to store Cottage Cheese at room temperature. Cottage Cheese can only keep its quality and lasts up to two hours at room temperature.
If you keep the Cottage Cheese at room temperature for more than two hours, discard it. The Cottage Cheese will not retain its quality and freshness when left outside the refrigerator overnight.
However, you won’t experience any food safety issues if you leave the Cottage Cheese at room temperature for too long. But, to keep its quality, you must refrigerate it consistently.
What are the Proven Methods to Store Cottage Cheese?
To ensure that your Cottage Cheese keeps freshness and quality long and doesn’t go rancid prematurely, you have to take care of its storage. It is not challenging to store your Cottage Cheese properly to enjoy its freshness longer. Here are a few important things you have to keep in mind.
Store in Far Corner of Fridge and not Fridge Door
After opening the container, you must store the Cottage Cheese in the far corner of your fridge instead of the fridge door. It is because of the high-temperature fluctuations at the door. So, store it in the far corner of your fridge, as suggested by Daisy Brand.
If possible, store the Cottage Cheese on the lower shelves and close to the refrigerator for ultimate storage conditions.
Store in Food Container
The Cottage Cheese comes in a container, and after removing the foil seal of the container, you have to reseal it using a plastic lid. If the container lacks a plastic lid, you may use the makeshift seal of aluminum foil and a rubber band.
Use Clean Spoon and Avoid Double Dipping
You must ensure to use clean utensils to take out the required portion of Cottage Cheese. Double-dipping must be avoided. After taking out the required portion of Cottage Cheese, you must place it back in the fridge.
You must not leave the Cottage Cheese open at room temperature for more than two hours, as suggested by Daisy Brand.
Pro Tips for Storage!
- If you see whey separating from Cottage Cheese after a couple of days of opening, you must flatten the surface of the Cottage Cheese using a clean spoon and put it in a refrigerator.
- Remember, Cottage Cheese easily picks up odor from the environment, so place the leftovers back into the refrigerator immediately to avoid it from happening.
Alternatives for Cottage Cheese if it Goes Bad
In case your cottage cheese starts showing signs of spoilage, you can try using the following substitutes:
- Ricotta cheese
- Sour cream
- Greek yogurt
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How Long does Cottage Cheese Lasts after Best-By Date?
If you have semi-soft or semi-hard Cottage Cheese after opening the container, you can still consume it two to four weeks after the expiry date. But, you have to smell and taste the Cottage Cheese before consuming it to ensure that it has not gone rancid. There is no harm in consuming it even after a couple of weeks past the best-by date, provided that it has not gone bad.
Q. Is Frozen Cottage Cheese Good for Dishes?
The frozen Cottage Cheese loses its texture, freshness, and flavor over time. It is because of the liquid content in the Cottage Cheese. But, it is still good to use in cooked dishes like sauces, cakes, soups, casseroles, and lasagna. Cottage Cheese lasts for up to three months in the freezer, but the texture and flavor may gradually compromise.
Q. Does Keeping Cottage Cheese Container Upside Down Extend Its Shelf Life?
Yes, keeping the container upside down will heighten the shelf-life of the Cottage Cheese. You must store the container upside down as it helps create a vacuum effect inside the container. It suppresses the bacterial growth within the container, preventing the Cottage Cheese from going rancid quickly.
Cottage Cheese is a versatile dairy item that all people enjoy. But, before bringing home a container of Cottage Cheese, you need to know the basics like the shelf-life, storage methods, and spoilage signs to know when it has gone bad and the impacts of consuming rancid Cottage Cheese.
It will help you enjoy the dairy product without worrying about whether it has gone bad or is still safe for consumption.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Michael A. Antoine is a Sr. Chef at one of the leading chains of restaurants in the USA. He might raise hell in his kitchen, but his deep and practical knowledge about food and recipes helps us give you the best and tastiest recipes.