It’s no secret that properly storing cheese helps it stay fresh for longer periods. However, it’s important to know that certain types of cheese go bad more quickly than others. What about parmesan cheese, which is a hard cheese? How long does parmesan cheese last?
This guide discusses parmesan cheese shelf life, storage tips, and how to tell if it has expired or spoiled. But first, let’s have a recap on parmesan cheese!
What is Parmesan Cheese?
Parmesan cheese is a type of hard cheese that originated in Italy. To make parmesan, cheesemakers heat cow’s milk and then add lactic acid bacteria to lower pH, then rennet for coagulation.
Parmigiano-Reggiano, the “true” parmesan cheese, is said to have the best quality and is made only in certain parts of Italy. Parmesan has a wide variety of uses. Avid snackers and health enthusiasts may enjoy it as a satisfying afternoon treat. It’s very low in lactose and high in healthy fats and protein [*][*].
How Long Does Parmesan Cheese Last?
Since parmesan is classified as a hard cheese, it generally lasts longer than softer cheeses like gorgonzola and cream cheese. If left unopened and stored in the fridge, parmesan should last up to 9 months. When opened, it lasts 4-8 weeks.
If you’ve bought grated parmesan (which looks like powdered cheese), make sure to check the “best before” date on the packaging. After opening the canister, keep it in the fridge.
Note that hard cheeses don’t require strict refrigeration, but doing so will boost their shelf life by slowing the rate at which bacteria grows.
How to Store Parmesan Cheese
The best way to store parmesan cheese is to place it in the fridge, preferably in the crisper drawer. This is the lower part of the fridge where you usually store fruits and vegetables to retain their freshness. Don’t mix parmesan with fresh produce. Instead, assign one of these crisper drawers for cheese alone.
Additionally, we recommend wrapping opened parmesan in parchment paper, then wrapping this in aluminum foil. If you’re storing just a small piece of parmesan, you can simply place it in a Ziploc bag, making sure to remove excess air before sealing it.
What about freezing parmesan cheese? An advantage of low-moisture cheeses like parmesan is that they’re not prone to “freezer burn” which is often the case with moist foods.
It’s good to know that parmesan cheese can be frozen! Simply place parmesan in a freezer bag. As a bonus tip, you’ll want to cut up parmesan into smaller blocks depending on the amount of cheese you need at a time.
How to Tell If Parmesan Cheese Has Gone Bad?
Cheese that goes bad will show certain signs of spoilage. Before anything else, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the cheese you’ve bought as soon as you’ve opened it. Note its original color, texture, smell, and taste. That way, you’ll be able to tell if something has gone wrong with the cheese over time.
Spoiled parmesan, in particular, will change color from light to dark. It develops a harder texture and may have green mold on the surface. If you take a sniff, you’re likely to notice a moldy or sour smell. Throw the cheese away.
For shredded parmesan cheese, check its “best-before” date once again, then note for a spongy texture. Discard it immediately and get a new pack!
Frequently Asked Questions
Love learning more about parmesan cheese? Here are common questions on the topic:
Can you freeze Parmesan cheese?
Absolutely. Hard cheeses like parmesan can be placed in the freezer. In contrast, softer cheeses cannot be frozen as their texture will change significantly.
Does grated Parmesan cheese expire?
All grated cheeses expire, including parmesan. Some sources claim that opened grated parmesan cheese lasts up to a week in the fridge, but you should always check for signs of spoilage, such as a spongy texture and off-putting smell.
Is it okay to eat Parmesan cheese with mold?
Mold spores are less likely to penetrate deeper in harder cheeses, and you can just cut or scrape away the mold from parmesan cheese. However, if it has developed an ammonia-like smell, it’s best to throw it away immediately.
Eating moldy cheese could put you at risk for stomach pain and diarrhea, which are symptoms of food poisoning [*].
The Bottom Line
While parmesan lasts longer than soft cheeses, proper storage is essential. Always check the best-before date on the cheese package and follow the tips we shared in this guide.
The good news is that storing parmesan cheese is easy. The fridge is the best place to keep this hard cheese, particularly in the crisper drawer.