If it happens to purchase a big block of Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), you probably wonder does Parmesan cheese go bad and how long does Parmesan cheese last.
Basically, this hard Italian cheese has a long shelf life when stored appropriately. It can’t last forever, but you should do your best to prolong that moment as much as possible. Let’s see.
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Does Parmesan Cheese Go Bad?
Thanks to the reduced moisture level, mold growth in hard Parmesan cheese is reduced, and you can keep it much longer than soft types. Basically, its shelf life varies depending on the cheese age and storing method.
The best of all is that you can use this cheese, even if its small surface turns moldy, by cutting the affected spot. Keep in mind that it is not the same with grated parmesan cheese. It has a shorter shelf life, and it can be tricky removing the mold.
Once your light beige cheese turns yellow, start smelling weird, or notice mold, you can be sure that something is wrong. The sign that shredded cheese is spoiled is its wet, spongy texture. In such a case, you need to throw it away to avoid possible food poisoning.
How Long Does Parmesan Cheese Last?
Like most hard cheeses, Parmesan can last for long. You can store an unopened package for 7 to 9 months in the fridge. Don’t worry about a ‘use-by’ date in the label since this product can last for weeks after that moment.
How Long Does Parmesan Cheese Last (Chart)
Parmesan cheese type
7 to 9 months
|/||1 to 2 months|
|Unopened, refrigerated shredded/grated||/||
Opened, refrigerated shredded/grated
|/||3 to 7 days|
|Unopened, unrefrigerated grated||One month||
Opened, unrefrigerated grated
4 to 6 months
An open package usually retains the best quality for up to two months when stored in the fridge. Grated Parmesan degrades faster, but it will be edible at least a week after the expiry date printed on the label. However, you should consume open refrigerated shredded or grated cheese within seven days.
6 Tips to Tell if Parmesan Cheese Has Gone Bad
The mold spots occurrence is often harmless when it comes to hard cheeses, including Parmesan. Once spotting them, use a knife to scrape changes on the affected surface and about 1 inch (2.5 cm) around them. Take care to avoid contact between the knife and the mold to prevent contamination of the rest of the piece.
The rest is entirely edible without any worries. Unfortunately, you need to throw away your cheese once mold covers most of its surface. When mold entirely covers grated cheese, it often contaminates more than what you can notice. In such a case, the best option is to discard the remaining cheese.
Remember that white and bluish-green mold is natural. On the other side, red or black mold is dangerous to use, and it is recommended to get rid of cheese immediately.
The parmesan rind is typically darker than the rest of the block, and many people, including me, prefer eating that tough part. Once this color becomes dark-yellow or grayish, you should avoid consuming such a cheese.
The color of grated Parmesan is always white to light beige. Once it turns yellow or dark beige, you should treat this piece as spoiled.
Once the Parmesan has gone bad, you will recognize a specific smell as a sure sign that the cheese is no longer edible. Depending on the reason for spoilage, you can recognize the moldy, sour, or pungent odor.
The best way to recognize that shredded Parmesan has become spoiled is to check its texture. Once it feels wet and spongy to the touch, it is time to get rid of the whole package.
Keep in mind that grated Parmesan can dry out over time, but it won’t affect its quality. However, it will be tastier if you melt it in the dish you have prepared.
When you notice that your cheese tastes rancid or sour, you should throw it away without thinking twice.
When you store Parmesan in a place with high humidity, it will clump after a while. One solution to prevent clumping is to add uncooked rice grains in the jar with grated cheese to absorb excessive moisture.
Avoid putting the rice directly into the jar because it can be a problem once you decide to take the cheese out. The best option is to pour the rice into the gauze bag and add it to the jar filled with the cheese.
How to Store Parmesan Cheese for Longer
Parmesan has a long shelf-life, but the way of storing affects its condition and longevity. Let’s see your options:
Block – Store Parmesan pieces in the fridge at 39 to 46 F (4 – 8 C). Since it needs to breathe, you should wrap it appropriately, including:
- Wrap large cheese chunks weighing at least 2 to 3 pounds (0.9 – 1.4 kg) in a slightly wet paper towel. Then, put an aluminum foil layer over it.
- When you want to keep the best cheese flavor and texture, you should wrap it in parchment paper. It is excellent to add a plastic wrap or foil over the package for additional protection from absorbing smells from the fridge.
- Wrap the cheese in butcher paper or wax paper before storing it in the fridge.
- Put the block in a zipper-lock bag but make sure to get rid of the air before refrigerating it.
- Wrapping the cheese in plastic wrap is possible, but its taste will become distinctly sour after a while.
No matter which method you choose, take care to replace the wrapping from time to time when storing the cheese for more than 5 to 7 days.
Wedge – Always keep it in the fridge at a temperature from 39 to 46 F (4 – 8 C). Puck out the right wrapping material to prevent drying and allow Parmesan to breathe. Wrap it in breathable plastic wrap, cheese paper, or parchment paper, but avoid plastic bags.
Grated – Store this Parmesan in the original container whenever possible. Never leave it out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. When you want to store cheese, you have grated yourself, put it in a resealable container.
It is possible to keep Parmesan in the freezer to prolong its shelf life. Put it in an airtight container or freezer bag, seal it tightly, and store it for a few months. Always take care to remove excess air as much as possible.
Sometimes, exposing Parmesan to excessive air results in a color change. It may turn white, and the rind starts to thicken. If it happens to you, try to revive cheese by soaking cheesecloth in water and wrapping the piece.
Add a plastic wrap over it and let it rest in the fridge overnight until becoming damp. Then, put it in a new plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator as usual.
The Risk of Consuming an Expired Parmesan Cheese
Luckily, appropriately stored Parmesan will last long and won’t go bad quickly. Once it spoils, you can notice it. Its taste, color, and smell are usually clear signs that something is wrong.
When you spot mold, you can cut it off and keep consuming the cheese without any worries. Unlike with other food, spores won’t spread far beyond the Parmesan surface.
Keep in mind that there are different molds you can spot over your cheese. Some of them are harmless, while others may cause respiratory problems or allergic reactions. When you eat cheese with molds producing dangerous mycotoxins, it will make you sick.
Also, molds sometimes carry harmful bacteria, including:
In such a case, this product will cause food poisoning, followed by stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Can You Freeze Parmesan Cheese?
Since Parmesan block and wedge have a long lifespan, there is no need to store them in the freezer. On the other hand, shredded cheese can last only 5 to 7 days in the fridge, and you should freeze it when necessary to keep it edible longer. The process includes:
- Grating the leftovers
- Packing them into a freezer bag or airtight container
Unfortunately, low temperatures will decrease the cheese quality, and it will lose typical texture and taste and start crumbling. Therefore, you shouldn’t eat such Parmesan, but you can use it for preparing casseroles, sauces, and soups.
Never thaw the whole package but take as much cheese as you need for a particular meal and return the rest to the freezer.
Parmesan is an almost lactose-free hard cheese with a long shelf life when kept appropriately. The way of storing depends on the type you use and the method of packing. The best option is to put the package in the fridge, but you can also freeze this cheese when you plan to use it for soups, pizza topping, and pasta.