Cheese is a billion-dollar industry, and it’s growing ever so fast. Some cheese is only to be eaten on special occasions, but some we enjoy every day, like cream cheese.
Cream Cheese is a staple in every household. If you’re lucky enough not to be lactose intolerant, you’ve probably enjoyed cream cheese more times than you can count. The creamy texture, delicious taste, and versatility make it everyone’s favorite spread.
Every time you go to the supermarket and get to the dairy aisle, you get lost in the cheese. We get it, there are way too many choices, and you want to try them all to find the creamiest one, so you end up buying too many. Now you wonder whether you will manage to eat it before it goes bad. How long does cream cheese last anyways?
Since cream cheese is a dairy product, it’s only natural it’ll go bad at some point. While with some cheese, like blue cheese, mold is more than welcome, this is not the case with cream cheese. Cream cheese has a definite shelf life, but it all depends on various factors, like storage, manufacturing method, etc.
So, without further ado, if you want to find out all about cream cheese and how long it can last, keep on reading!
Tips For Storing Cream Cheese
It’s simple – cream cheese should be stored in the fridge, below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. When you’re shopping for groceries, make sure to get all dairy products at the end, so they don’t sit in your shopping cart for too long. This way, the period of time in which cream cheese is not refrigerated is reduced to a minimum.
Furthermore, never put cream cheese in the fridge door, because it has an inconsistent temperature. It’s better to place it deep in your fridge than to risk it going bad even faster.
Whether it has been opened or not, cream cheese belongs in the fridge. Opened cream cheese can sit out for two hours tops, and this also depends on many factors. If you’re interested in finding out more about how long cream cheese can sit out, we recommend you take a look at this helpful article.
If you have opened it and haven’t used all of it, make sure to seal the container tightly, because otherwise, you’re creating an ideal place for mold development, even in the fridge.
So, the bottom line is – cream cheese belongs in the fridge.
Can You Freeze Cream Cheese?
Some cheese can be frozen without any significant consequences. For example, you can freeze goat cheese, but you have to follow certain steps. When it comes to soft cheese, specifically cream cheese, the situation is a bit different.
So, to answer the question, yes – you can freeze cream cheese, but it comes at a price. Freezing cream cheese will make major changes in its texture. Generally, cream cheese is soft, creamy, and smooth, and it’s not guaranteed it will stay the same after you freeze it. Moisture is the main reason for the creaminess, and once you freeze it, it probably won’t go back to its original state. The moisture will freeze quickly and thaw even faster, resulting in different textures, more crumbly and brittle.
If you’re going to freeze cream cheese, make sure to thaw it properly. When you take it out of the freezer, let it sit in the fridge for a day, so that it can defrost gradually and evenly. Don’t forget that there’s a limit to how long cream cheese can stay in the freezer, and it’s about two months.
How Long Does Cream Cheese Last?
Unopened store-bought cream cheese can last in the fridge for three to four weeks, while opened will be good up to two weeks, three weeks tops. It’s crucial how you store it, as it should never sit out of the fridge longer than two hours, and you should never leave the container unsealed, even in the fridge.
If you prefer low-fat versions of cream cheese, these can also last up to three weeks in the fridge. Generally, you’ll be able to tell when cream cheese has gone bad, and after three or four weeks, signs of contamination will be noticeable.
Making cream cheese from scratch is not only super easy, but it’s also a lot healthier. Like most other homemade spreads and dips, homemade cream cheese will not last as long as store-bought ones. This is because they add various preservatives to store-bought cheese, making it last longer. Homemade cream cheese will last up to a week, maybe two in the fridge, which is still quite long, especially considering you can control the size of the portion you make, so you can prepare just enough to eat before two weeks pass.
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What Affects The Shelf Life Of Cream Cheese?
The number of options for cream cheese on the market is vast. And they all differ in some way, so it’s logical they won’t have exactly the same shelf life. Let’s see what essential factors that affect the shelf life of cream cheese are.
Packaging plays an important role in the shelf life of cream cheese. Many manufacturers treat the container with different food-safe chemicals that make it sturdier and help prolong the shelf life of cream cheese. If the container has a good lid that you can seal tightly after opening it, it means your cream cheese will likely last longer, because it won’t be open for air contaminators.
If you buy cream cheese that doesn’t have a solid lid, it’s best to wrap it in aluminum foil or saran wrap, just to make sure no excess air will enter. Cream cheese can also pick up smells from other food, so this is a good way to prevent it.
2. Manufacturing Method
It doesn’t come as a surprise that store-bought cream cheese can last almost double as long as the homemade version. This is because cream cheese manufacturers use different methods and they add a lot of preservatives that prolong its shelf life. These preservatives are not necessarily bad for you, but they’re certainly not as healthy as all-natural ingredients.
Plus, if you don’t feel like making your own cream cheese, or you like a specific kind that you cannot make at home, getting store-bought cream cheese is a better idea since it can last for quite a time.
3. Moisture Level
A variety of cream cheese is available nowadays – whipped, low-fat, regular, flavored, etc. This means all of them to have different ingredients and different moisture content that determine shelf life. The texture and consistency depend on ingredients, while moisture level defines whether the cheese is soft or hard. The softness of cheese directly affects shelf life, and hard cheese will always last longer than soft ones.
Cream cheese is a type of soft cheese, but there are different levels of softness. No matter how soft or not it is, it still means that, due to the high moisture level, it will go bad fast – faster than hard cheese anyways.
How To Tell If Cream Cheese Has Gone Bad
It’s not hard to tell when cream cheese has gone bad. All you have to do is follow your senses.
First, take a look at your cream cheese. If you notice any significant change in texture, any mold or bacteria growth, you need to throw it out. This is a definite sign your cream cheese has gone bad. Mold can be good for some hard cheese, but it’s never a good sign with soft cheese. Also, if mold appears on hard cheese, you can always cut that part off, but you can’t do this with cream cheese as it has a soft texture, and bacteria can easily spread everywhere.
If it looks fine, but you’re still unsure, take a whiff. Cream cheese will smell really bad when it’s gone bad, even if it looks just fine. The foul or putrid smell is a sure indicator cream cheese has gone bad.
You may also notice that your cream cheese has some dry, yellowy areas. This is a sign that it’s slowly starting to deteriorate, but if there’s no mold or unpleasant smells, it’s still safe to eat, just scratch off the dry part. However, while it is safe to eat, the taste may not be the best.
If you’ve ever wondered how long cream cheese lasts, now you know. If you eat cream cheese on a regular basis, it’s important to know everything about it – how long it lasts, how to store it, and so on.
Generally, cream cheese lasts up to three or four weeks, and one thing is crucial – always keep cream cheese in the fridge.
We hope we’ve given you a clear answer to the question, “How long does cream cheese last?”