Mozzarella cheese is an indispensable kitchen ingredient. We use it in pizza. It graces our salads. It makes for a great snack on its own or with crackers. And we fall in love with it over and over again. But have you ever asked yourself, “Does mozzarella cheese go bad?” If you are curious, keep reading!
Does Mozzarella Cheese Go Bad?
Yes, much like other daily products, mozzarella cheese degrades with time. Also, because it is a soft cheese, mozzarella has a shorter lifespan compared to hard cheeses.
But how long it will take before mozzarella goes bad will depend on various factors including how it is stored. If you leave your cheese sitting out on a kitchen counter, for instance, you will be accelerating the spoilage process. Bacteria grow fast at room temperature. If mozzarella is left out for over two hours, it should be discarded.
To keep your mozzarella from spoilage, always store it in the refrigerator, or even better, freeze it.
How Long Does Mozzarella Cheese Last?
Mozzarella typically does not have a long lifespan. Unlike popular hard cheeses like parmesan that last up to nine months, mozzarella will usually last about three weeks to a month from the day it is manufactured.
Unopened mozzarella cheese can last up to seven days after the best-by date. Once the package has been opened, the cheese lasts between three and eight days. Frozen mozzarella can last anywhere between five and six months past the best-by date.
After mozzarella has been opened, the leftover should be consumed within seven days. However, it’s important to note that the cheese will not taste as fresh as it did when you first opened it. Its quality deteriorates rapidly causing it to lose its flavor, freshness, and potency over time.
Below is a table that summarizes the shelf life of mozzarella to help you enjoy it while it’s still fresh.
|Type of Mozzarella Cheese||Lifespan|
|Unopened mozzarella cheese||Best-by + 7 days||5 to 6 months|
|Opened mozzarella cheese||3 to 8 days||2 to 3 months|
5 Tips to Tell if Mozzarella Cheese Has Gone Bad
Because soft cheeses have higher protein content than hard cheeses, they tend to age more quickly. Use your eyes as well as your sense of taste and smell to find out if your mozzarella is good to ingest.
1. Examine the Package for Abnormalities
The most common abnormality would be swelling. If your unopened pack of mozzarella seems bloated, chances are the cheese is done for. You may want to look inside, though, just to be sure.
2. Check for Signs of Mold
Mold develops when the mozzarella is not stored properly and bacteria begins to break it down. Visually inspect the cheese and if you see blue or green spots, toss it out. The extent of spotting will depend on how long the product has been neglected. No matter how small the spots are, your cheese is no longer safe for consumption and should be discarded.
3. Look Out for Dryness
Examine the edges of the mozzarella for signs of dryness or hardening. If the cheese was not stored properly or is way past its best-by date, the moisture that makes it soft, tasty, and flavorful may start to evaporate. The dryness will mostly be visible at the edges.
In most cases, you may still be able to consume your cheese. If it doesn’t have any signs of mold, just grab a knife and trim off the hardened parts.
4. Sniff it
If your cheese has a strange smell, throw it out. However, keep in mind that the smell of mozzarella may vary from brand to brand. Some cheeses will have stronger scents than others and vice versa.
If you have been sticking to one brand, then chances are you already know what your mozzarella should smell like. An odor of sour milk is a sign that you should get rid of the product.
5. Taste It
If everything looks fine up to this point but you still aren’t sure whether your mozzarella is good to eat, take a small bite of the cheese.
Note, however, that cheese ripens over time and its taste and texture will change as it continues to live in your fridge. If the small bite causes our tongue to burn or tingle, spit it out right away and get rid of the cheese.
4 Tips to Store Mozzarella
To keep your mozzarella cheese from getting spoiled, always store it in the refrigerator or freezer. Here are some tips to help you store it right.
1. Store Mozzarella in Its Liquid
If the container your mozzarella came in has some liquid at the bottom, don’t discard the liquid. It will help keep the cheese moist. The liquid is usually a byproduct of when the cheese is made. Always keep the mozzarella in it. If it gets low, replace it with water.
Similarly, keep vacuum-packed mozzarella in water. Simply fill a bowl with cold water and dip the cheese inside before placing it in the fridge. It will keep it from drying out.
When replacing the liquid that comes with your mozzarella, it’s important that you try to replicate it as much as possible.
For example, if the cheese came in a mixture of water and salt, try not to store it in fresh water. Why? The water will draw salt from the cheese and as a result, there will be a slight change in taste. Try to make your own mixture of salt and water to store the mozzarella in.
2. Keep Loaf Mozzarella in a Plastic Wrap
Loaf mozzarella will usually come in a vacuum package. After you have opened the cheese, make sure to wrap it back up to lock the air out and keep it from hardening or drying out.
3. Reseal Shredded Mozzarella After Use
Shredded mozzarella is often packaged in a resealable bag. After you have opened the cheese, make sure to reseal the package. If the package your mozzarella came in is not resealable, consider transferring the cheese in an airtight container or Ziplock before storage.
4. Place Mozzarella in the Crisper Drawer
The crisper drawer is often located at the bottom of the fridge and it’s where you probably store your leafy greens and veggies. Because its humidity level is different from that of the rest of the fridge, this is the best spot to store your mozzarella, as it will keep it moist.
For more insights on how to store mozzarella cheese, watch this video:
The Risk of Consuming Expired Mozzarella Cheese
Whether consuming old mozzarella cheese will make you sick or not will depend on the level of contamination. For the most part, ingesting cheese that is a few days past its expiration date will not make you ill.
The problem occurs when the cheese is way past the printed date and is already moldy or harboring bacteria that can make you sick. Mold especially can carry E.coli, Brucella, Salmonella, Listeria, and many other bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
Always watch out for mozzarella with mold. Soft cheeses usually have more moisture, and unlike hard cheeses, cutting off the moldy parts will likely not make the product safe for consumption. Even if you chop off a silver of mold, lingering microbes can still cause food-borne illnesses.
Can You Freeze Mozzarella Cheese?
Yes, you can. Freezing mozzarella cheese is a great way to extend its lifespan even longer. How you do it, however, will depend on the form in which the cheese came in. It may help to know how you will be using the cheese after freezing too so you can portion it accordingly.
Mozzarella blocks, for instance, should be sliced so you are not thawing the whole brick or forcing yourself to consume more than you actually need. Once you have your cheese sliced as desired, place it in an airtight container and put it into the freezer.
If you have fresh mozzarella, make sure to drain the liquid and any moisture before freezing the product. Water will solidify and form ice crystals when frozen and you certainly don’t want crystals in your cheese.
An important point to remember when freezing fresh mozzarella is that even if you get rid of the liquid before freezing, the texture of the cheese will change after defrosting. The cheese will become somewhat soft and watery and may not taste as great as new cheese.
The good news is that fresh mozzarella still works alright when melted. It can be used as pizza toppings, in egg scrambles, or in any other dish that requires melted mozzarella.
Mozzarella cheese needs to be stored in the refrigerator to keep it from going bad. Make sure it is properly sealed to keep moisture out and retain its quality. If your mozzarella has been in storage for an extended period, check for signs of spoilage before consumption. Moldy or funny-smelling mozzarella should be tossed out.