Whether you use string cheese to stuff meats and breads, eat it as a snack, or enjoy it with wine, it is always good to have some in your fridge.
However, you may not use string cheese as often as other cheese varieties, which has to leave you wondering how long it might last.
Does string cheese go bad? String cheese does go bad, especially if you don’t store it properly. Unopened string cheese typically lasts a few months in the fridge, or 6-8 months in the freezer. If left out of the fridge, string cheese can go bad within hours.
In this article, we will tell you how to store string cheese to make it last as long as possible and how to tell if your string cheese is still good or not. You will also learn if eating expired string cheese can make you sick.
Can String Cheese Go Bad?
If you are left with a half-full package of string cheese after making some fried cheese sticks for appetizer, you may be wondering if string cheese goes bad and how long can you keep it.
Despite the variety of your string cheese, it will go bad eventually, or faster if not stored properly. As with most cheese varieties and dairy products in general, string cheese must be stored carefully and in the fridge or freezer.
If you want to maximize the shelf-life of your string cheese, do not open it until you need to use it. The original packaging of the cheese is the best at keeping it fresh.
How Long Does String Cheese Last?
The shelf-life of string cheese, when unopened, is quite long. While it may differ from brand to brand, the shelf-life of unopened string cheese is usually up to several months.
But you can typically use the cheese for at least a week past the printed best-by or use-by date. These dates are only the manufacturer’s estimation of how long the cheese will maintain its best qualities.
If you have stored the cheese properly and there are no signs of spoilage, check the cheese and consider using it, as it might be good for another week or two.
The shelf-life of string cheese stored in the freezer is 6 to 8 months. Again, it is often safe to eat the cheese past this time too. However, keep in mind that the longer you keep the cheese in the freezer the more texture and flavor changes it will suffer.
As we have mentioned above, it is not recommended to keep string cheese at room temperature longer than 4 hours. Four hours is the limit if you want to be sure that there is no bacterial growth happening in your cheese.
However, in some cases, such as taking the cheese with you for lunch or a picnic with friends, it may be out of the fridge for a few more hours.
In such cases, the cheese may still be completely safe for consumption unless it has been sitting under direct sunlight. This is because commercially manufactured string cheese, unlike other cheese varieties, often contains preservatives.
If your string cheese has been out of the fridge all day, inspect it closely before you eat it. If you don’t eat the cheese, don’t put it in the fridge for later use and discard it. However, it is probably safest to discard it anyway if it has been longer than four hours.
How to Store String Cheese
String cheese, whether it has been opened or not, should be stored in the fridge. There are three key rules to follow when it comes to the storage conditions of string cheese.
1. Always keep string cheese in the fridge. String cheese is sold in the refrigerated section of grocery stores.
This means that you should put it in the fridge as soon as you bring it home. As we have said, experts say that you shouldn’t keep string cheese at room temperature longer than 4 hours.
2. Store the cheese in a tightly-sealed container or bag if it’s not left in the packaging. Cheese picks up odors from the fridge. Thus, it is important to keep it in an airtight container.
We recommend storing string cheese in a plastic bag pushing out as much air as you can. Leaving air in the bag will cause the cheese to dry out.
When it comes to unopened string cheese, store it as is if the packaging is not damaged. If you accidentally damage the packaging of the cheese, remove it and store the cheese in an airtight container or bag.
3. Don’t store the cheese with other products. You may be tempted to collect and store the leftovers from your cheese plate all in one container. However, storing the cheese with food items with high water content, such as tomatoes, will cause it to alter its flavor qualities. Thus, it is safe to always keep it separate.
If you have a few unfinished sticks of string cheese, wrap them with a piece of aluminum foil or food wrap.
Does String Cheese Go Bad in the Fridge?
While the fridge is the best place to store it, string cheese, like all dairy products, has a limited shelf-life whether your store it in the fridge or not.
String cheese, if stored properly in the fridge, will last up to a few days longer than the date indicated on the packaging. As string cheese is a semi-soft cheese variety, it goes bad quicker than hard cheeses.
Can You Store String Cheese in the Freezer?
As the shelf life of opened string cheese is not very long, you can freeze it to make the cheese last longer.
If you take all the necessary steps before storing the cheese in the freezer, you will bring texture and taste changes to the minimum and extend the shelf-life of the cheese to several months.
Note that freezing string cheese may alter its texture. While string cheese has relatively low water content and freezes quite well, it may become slightly rubbery once you defrost it.
Depending on the brand and the particular string cheese variety, it may even become slightly crumbly.
This is why we recommend only using frozen (and defrosted) string cheese in cooking. Eating it as a snack or appetizer is not a good idea. Use the cheese in hot dishes where it will melt anyway and you won’t even notice the difference between fresh and frozen string cheese.
How to Freeze String Cheese
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to freeze string cheese:
- Put the sticks in a freezer bag. You can also use a plastic container. However, the less air there is in the container or bag with string cheese, the better it will keep. Thus, using a freezer bag is a better option.
- If you have many sticks of string cheese that you know you won’t be using all at once, freeze the sticks in several bags. This will make the defrosting process much easier and quicker.
- Squeeze out as much air as you can from the bag.
- Make sure to seal the bag well. Leaving it open will cause the cheese to absorb odors as well as result in a freezer burn.
- Label the bag with the date and put it in the freezer.
As for freezing an unopened package of string cheese, simply wrap it with a layer of food wrap or put it in a zip-top bag as an added layer of protection.
To use frozen string cheese, transfer it from the freezer into the fridge. Do this a day before you plan to use it. Don’t thaw the cheese at room temperature as drastic temperature changes will result in more noticeable texture changes.
Additionally, it may take a few hours before the cheese fully thaws. And leaving string cheese at room temperature for a long time is not recommended.
How Can You Tell If String Cheese Is Bad?
There are a few signs to help you detect bad string cheese:
- Off-putting smell: If your string cheese doesn’t smell the way it did when you first opened it and has developed an off odor, discard it.
- Mold: Mold is the ultimate red light. If you see blue or grey specks on the string cheese, discard it.
- Texture changes: Another sign of spoilage for string cheese is texture changes. String cheese that is no longer good for consumption has a slippery texture.
- Altered taste: Are there no texture and smell changes and no mold growing on your cheese? Then go ahead and give it a taste test. If there are no changes in flavor, your cheese is still good for consumption.
With this being said, if you have had a package of string cheese for much longer than recommended, discard it anyway even if all signs of spoilage seem to be missing.
Can Eating Expired Cheese Make You Sick?
As we have mentioned earlier in this article, you can use unopened string cheese within 1-2 weeks past its expiration date if all signs of spoilage are missing and it won’t make you sick.
As for eating string cheese that has gone bad, it may cause such health issues as upset stomach or fever if consumed in large amounts.
But the flavor, smell, and appearance changes in the case of bad string cheese are rather evident. So, you are likely to stop eating the cheese after you take a bite.
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