Part of my job as a Certified Health Coach is to inform people about storing food like cheese. It’s typically wrapped and stored in the refrigerator, but not all cheeses require refrigeration. You may be wondering, what cheeses can be left unrefrigerated.
Cheeses that can be left unrefrigerated are Asiago D’allevo, Parmigiano Reggiano, aged Gouda, aged Cheddar, Appenzeller and Pecorino Romano. These hard cheeses can be unrefrigerated due to their low moisture content and acidity during maturation.
Read on to learn the best way to store these cheeses unrefrigerated and how long they will last.
Cheeses That Doesn’t Need to be Refrigerated
1. Asiago D’allevo
Asiago D’allevo is a hard cheese with three graduations 1. The longer Asiago D’allevo is aged, the more firm it becomes. The three graduations are:
- Mezzano – 4-6 months
- Vecchio – 10+ months
- Stravecchio – 2 years
The Stravecchio will keep the longest outside the refrigerator due to it being the hardest.
To store Asiago D’allevo unrefrigerated, follow these 4 steps:
- Cover with a moist cheesecloth.
- Wrap the cheese in parchment or wax paper and seal it with tape.
- Store the wrapped cheese in a cool, dark location.
- Moisten the cheesecloth every day to prevent it from drying out.
2. Parmigiano Reggiano
Refrigerating Parmigiano Reggiano isn’t necessary, thanks to its low moisture content. To store chunks or wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano be sure to follow these 3 steps:
- Wrap it tightly in food-grade paper.
- Cover it loosely with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
- Set it in a cool, dry place.
3. Aged Gouda
Gouda is a semi-hard to hard variety 2. To store Gouda, follow the steps below:
- Double wrap Gouda in parchment, wax or waxed cheese paper.
- Cover the paper-wrapped cheese loosely with plastic wrap and place it in a glass jar or plastic tub with a lid.
- Store it in a cool, dark location.
4. Aged Cheddar
Aged Cheddar may be stored outside of the refrigerator, away from direct sunlight and heat. To store Aged Cheddar properly, follow the steps below:
- Double wrap it in a cheese cloth dampened with vinegar.
- Lay the cheese in wax paper or parchment.
- Keep it in a cool, dark area to maintain its distinct flavor.
Appenzeller is a hard cow’s milk cheese produced in Switzerland’s Appenzellerland region 3. Three types of Appenzeller are available:
- Classic – Aged 3-4 Months
- Surchoix – Aged 4-6 Months
- Extra – Aged 6+ Months
Store Appenzeller by following these steps:
- Wrap it tightly in parchment paper.
- Cover it loosely with plastic wrap.
- Place in a cool, dark, dry area, like a cabinet or pantry.
It may be difficult finding this variety in the local stores. Fortunately, it’s available to purchase online in various different places that sell cheese.
6. Pecorino Romano
Pecorino Romano is a hard cheese made exclusively with sheep’s milk 4. Because Pecorino Romano has such a long storage life, it was popular among Roman legions.
It can be stored unrefrigerated following these steps:
- Wrap it in food-grade paper or aluminum foil.
- Place it in a cool, dry, dark area.
How About Processed American Cheeses?
Most processed American cheese don’t require refrigeration until they are opened. Once opened, they should be refrigerated. Always follow the instructions on the processed varieties purchased and follow their specific instructions.
Typical processed cheeses include the following:
- Blocks or sealed loaves of American cheese.
Why These Cheeses Can Be Left Out At Room Temperature
Hard types can be left out because its low moisture content allows for longer storage. Hard cheeses store well in cool, dark areas wrapped in cheesecloth or food-grade paper. Hard types were produced to extend the shelf life of milk.
When storing hard cheese, check it daily for signs of spoilage.
As a general rule of thumb, the softer the cheese, the faster it breaks down. The following cheese requires prompt refrigeration:
- Soft cheeses
- Cream cheese
- Shredded cheese
- Goat cheese
- Cottage cheese
Softer styles should be refrigerated and consumed before their expiration date.
Tips for Storing Cheese Unrefrigerated
Hard cheeses should be appropriately stored and monitored daily for signs of abnormal mold, sweating or drying 5.
- Sweating is not necessarily an indication it has gone bad. It is a sign moisture has been trapped. Always store cheese in food-grade paper to keep away any excess moisture, then loosely wrap it in plastic or foil. Before eating, blot away any wet spots with cheesecloth.
- Dry, cracked cheese is common to be stored in brine or rubbed with butter before aging. To revive it, cover the cheese in a dampened cheesecloth and wrap it in plastic wrap. Let it sit for a day in a cool, dark area.
- Stinky cheese isn’t always abnormal. Some, like Limburger, have a naturally pungent odor, but for others, like Cheddar, a strong, stinky smell is a sign of spoilage. Be sure to know what’s normal and not for the type of cheese you’re storing. If it smells different than it’s supposed to, throw it out.
- Mold is often added to cheese to ripen it. Cheese mold is usually found on the interior and not the rind. Varieties like Gorgonzola and Stilton have blue mold throughout the interior, which is acceptable and expected. However, if mold is growing on the rind or exterior, it could be a sign it is expiring.
Storage Times for Hard Cheese
Hard cheeses can last longer if they are refrigerated. The approximate storage times for hard cheeses in the refrigerator include the following:
- A block of unopened hard cheese can last six months in the refrigerator.
- A block of opened hard cheese can last 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.
- Opened shredded hard cheese can last 1 month in the refrigerator.
Storing Cheese in the Freezer
The following cheese does not freeze well:
- Cream cheeses
Other cheeses may be frozen up to six months.
Read Next – More Food Storage Articles For You!
- Wikipedia: Asiago cheese
- Cheese.com: Aged Gouda
- Cheeses from Switzerland: Appenzeller
- Cheese.com: Pecorino Romano
- Journal of Dairy Science: American artisan cheese quality and spoilage: A survey of cheesemakers’ concerns and needs
- WineEnthusiast: A Guide to the King of Cheeses, parmigiana-Reggiano
- J.S. Bailey: Cheese Production
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Handling Of Cheese For Safety & Quality
- University of Purdue: Food Storage Guide
- USDA: Does all cheese need to be refrigerated?
- Wikipedia: Parmigiano Reggiano
- Wikipedia: Cheddar cheese