Fondues, casseroles, Shepherd’s pie, mashed potatoes, and mac & cheese- such flavorful dishes have one ingredient in common. Yes, we are talking about the delicious parmesan cheese. Even though it is mostly used in melted food items like sauces and soups, parmesan cheese has found its way into all kinds of recipes.
Due to its versatility, parmesan cheese is often stored in bulk due to its long shelf life. However, that does not mean that other factors might not affect its quality. If you do not want to risk consuming spoiled parmesan cheese, we suggest going through the following article and getting all of your questions answered.
What is the Shelf-Life of Parmesan Cheese?
Parmesan Cheese is a hard Italian cheese and tends to last quite long. The unopened Parmesan Cheese has a shelf-life of up to nine months. The printed use-before date on the label must not be confused with an expiry date. Since Parmesan cheese is a hard cheese, it tends to stay edible even a couple of weeks past its use-by date.
After opening the Parmesan Cheese, it sustains the best quality for one to two months. However, it tends to retain its freshness for much longer, possibly for six months after opening, as per Regg It Up.
The grated and shredded Parmesan Cheese is sold refrigerated, and it must be consumed within the use-by date printed on the pack. The shredded and grated Parmesan Cheese degrades quickly, and it keeps the best quality for a week after the use-by date. After opening, you must prefer to consume the cheese within five days for the best result or maybe within a week.
|Unopened Parmesan Cheese||–||Seven to Nine Months or Use-By Date Plus One Month|
|Opened Parmesan Cheese||–||One to Two Months|
|Grated and Shredded Parmesan Cheese Sold Refrigerated||–||Use-By Date Plus Seven Days|
|Graded Unrefrigerated and Unopened Parmesan Cheese||Use-By Date Plus One Month||–|
|Shredded Refrigerated and Opened Parmesan Cheese||–||Three to Seven Days|
|Grated Parmesan Cheese Sold Unrefrigerated and Opened||–||Four to Six Months|
Please note these periods are only the estimates for the best quality and not the expiry date.
What are the Spoilage Signs of Parmesan Cheese?
There are different ways to tell if the Parmesan Cheese has gone bad. Below you will find a couple of tricks that can help you know when your Parmesan Cheese has gone bad and is not edible anymore.
Mold starts growing in the Parmesan Cheese; when moisture leaks into the cheese’s container. It even breaks down the cheese. Mold spots are not a deal-breaker in the wedges and blocks. If you see blue or green mold spots on the blocks, you may remove them with a knife and use the remaining part. But when mold covers most of the part, it is wise to discard the block and use a new package.
But, you must not opt for this option in grated and shredded cheese because it is likely that the entire pack has been spoiled by mold and must be discarded immediately.
Parmesan Cheese rind has a darker color than the rest of the wedges or block, and there is no harm in eating the tough part. But, when the color changes to grayish or dark-yellow, you must discard it.
The grated and shredded Parmesan Cheese has a light to white beige color, and when it turns dark beige or yellow, it means the cheese has gone rancid, and you must discard it.
The Parmesan Cheese starts radiating a specific and unpleasant smell when it starts to degrade. It is the surefire sign of spoilage. Depending upon the underlying cause of spoilage, the Parmesan Cheese may release a sour, moldy, and pungent smell.
Change in Texture
The best way to determine if your grated Parmesan Cheese has gone bad is by checking the texture. The cheese that has gone bad will give a spongy and wet feeling, and it means the cheese has gone bad and is not edible.
The shredded Parmesan Cheese dries out quickly with time, and it won’t impact the quality.
When your Parmesan Cheese gives a sour or rancid taste, discard it because it is the surefire sign of spoilage.
Clumping is another spoilage sign, and it occurs when you store the Parmesan Cheese in areas with high humidity. You can prevent this by adding uncooked rice grain to the jar of grated Parmesan Cheese, which can absorb the excess moisture inside the jar and prevent it from getting clumpy.
What Happens When You Eat Spoiled Parmesan Cheese?
Fortunately, Parmesan Cheese won’t go bad quickly if you store it properly. But, once it starts degrading, the spoilage signs will be visible, and you can easily make out that your Parmesan Cheese is no longer edible.
A small moldy spot can be removed using a knife, and you can use the remaining part without worrying. Unlike other dairy products, the mold spores won’t spread beyond the moldy surface.
But, you have to keep in mind that there are different types of molds, and some of them are harmless while others can cause respiratory issues and allergic reactions in people. Please remember that some moldy Parmesan Cheese can produce Mycotoxins, and consuming it may make you ill.
Besides, some molds may also carry harmful bacteria, including Listeria, Salmonella, Coli, and Brucella. If you accidentally consume any of these bacteria, it may cause food poisoning with diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain symptoms.
Can You Freeze Parmesan Cheese? Refrigerated Vs. Shelf-Stable
Parmesan Cheese is a harder cheese, and freezing it is a good option to preserve it longer, applicable for both shredded and block Parmesan Cheese. As long as you store the Parmesan Cheese in an airtight container, the blocks and wedges can keep their peak quality for years in a freezer.
However, the low temperatures of a freezer can reduce the quality and affect the typical taste and texture of the Parmesan Cheese. The cheese may also start crumbling with time. So, you must not eat such Parmesan Cheese; instead, use it to prepare soups, sauces, and casseroles.
Freezing helps the blocks and wedges last for up to a year or more. Grated and shredded Parmesan Cheese can last for one to two years in a freezer. But, it must be stored in an airtight container to prevent moisture from leaking in.
Parmesan Cheese can keep its quality for up to six weeks when stored properly in a fridge. The trick is to reduce moisture leakage and prevent mold from growing. Refrigeration works perfectly to prevent the mold from growing.
The grated and shredded Parmesan Cheese lasts for two weeks when properly refrigerated because the grated Parmesan Cheese is already dehydrated. The shredded Parmesan Cheese won’t last longer than two weeks in a fridge.
The refrigerator only helps Parmesan Cheese keep its quality for a week before it spoils, and due to this reason, many people prefer freezing it for a longer shelf-life. Ensure that you store the grated Parmesan Cheese in an airtight container.
Parmesan Cheese is not a shelf-stable product, and hence it won’t last long at room temperature after opening. The unopened grated Parmesan Cheese sold unrefrigerated will keep its peak quality for about one year to 18 months at room temperature. After opening, it needs continuous refrigeration to keep its peak quality.
The Parmesan Cheese sold unrefrigerated can only last at room temperature. But after opening, it needs to be transferred to a fridge or freezer to extend the shelf-life.
What are the Best Methods to Store Parmesan Cheese?
Parmesan Cheese has a longer shelf-life, but the way you store it affects its longevity and conditions. So, you must know all the suitable storage conditions for Parmesan Cheese to keep its peak quality longer.
Keep Parmesan Cheese Breathing
Store Parmesan Cheese wedges and blocks in parchment paper or butcher or wax paper to let them breathe. Use another layer of plastic or foil wap. to prevent moisture from leaking in to cause mold growth.
After wrapping it properly, put it into a zipper-lock bag before refrigerating or freezing.
Use Airtight Container
After opening, the grated and shredded Parmesan Cheese must be stored in the original container. The wedges and blocks of Parmesan Cheese must be stored in an airtight container. You may also use a freezer bag to store the blocks.
Ensure that the container’s lid is sealed tightly to prevent moisture leakage. Moreover, you must remove the excess air from the container before refrigerating it.
Excess exposure to air and moisture may result in color changes. The exposure to air also turns the rind to thicken. If it happens to your Parmesan Cheese, you must review it periodically, soak the cheesecloth in water, and wrap the wedges or blocks.
You must also cover it with plastic wrap and allow the cheese to rest overnight in a fridge until it turns damp. Replace the plastic wrap with a new one and refrigerate it as usual.
Alternatives for Parmesan Cheese if it has gone bad
In case your parmesan cheese has lost its quality, taste, and consistency, you can try other alternatives, like:
- Asiago cheese
- Grana Padano cheese
- Romano cheese
- Piave cheese
- Cotija cheese
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Does Parmesan Cheese Need to Be Refrigerated?
Soft cheese like cottage cheese, cream cheese, goat cheese, and shredded cheese must be refrigerated for its safety and peak quality. However, hard cheeses like processed, cheddar, and Parmesan Cheese, both grated and blocked, don’t need refrigeration for their safety, but the shelf-life prolongs when you refrigerate it after opening. So, Parmesan Cheese needs to be refrigerated, especially if you want to preserve it longer.
Q. What is the Shelf-Life of Shredded Parmesan Cheese?
Shredded or grated Parmesan Cheese sold unrefrigerated usually keeps its peak quality for ten to twelve months when kept in a fridge. After opening, it needs continuous refrigeration, and it will start to degrade faster when stored outside a fridge.
Q. Can You Eat Moldy Parmesan Cheese?
The mold spores in Parmesan hard cheese like Parmesan won’t spread in the entire block or wedges. Since mold can’t penetrate far deep into the cheese, you can remove the moldy part using a knife and use the remaining Parmesan Cheese without worries. But, you must remove at least one inch around and below the moldy spot and use the remaining Parmesan Cheese.
Q. Are white spots on Parmesan cheese mold?
The white spots on Parmesan cheese must not be confused with mold. These crystallized patches are amino acid clusters that add a level of crunchiness and savoriness to the cheese.
It is clear that Parmesan Cheese lasts quite long and can be used past its use-by date, provided that it is stored properly. Don’t forget to check the smell, texture, and mold growth before consuming the old Parmesan Cheese stored in a fridge.
After opening the wedges and blocks of Parmesan Cheese, keep it well wrapped to preserve its quality for long. The grated and shredded Parmesan Cheese must be stored in an airtight container.
When the rind turns darker or firmer, you must not discard the Parmesan Cheese. It is not a spoilage sign, and it is edible.
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.