Dairy products go bad quite easily if you don’t provide proper storage conditions. And cream cheese is no exception. If you make yourself a cream cheese bagel every other day, you probably don’t need to worry about it going bad. But what if you have used only the quarter of the container and won’t be using the rest for a few days.
Can cream cheese go bad? And how long does it last? Cream cheese will last up to 10 days in the fridge if you have already opened it. Unopened cream cheese, on the other hand, has a shelf life of up to a month past its expiration date. If you want your cream cheese to keep for much longer, freeze it. This way you can maintain the cheese fresh for at least 6 months.
Keep reading to learn more about the proper storage conditions of cream cheese and how to know whether it has gone bad or is still good to use.
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Does Cream Cheese Go Bad?
If you are not someone that uses cream cheese as a sandwich spread often and only buys it if a certain recipe calls for it, you may wonder how long can you keep an opened container of cream cheese in the fridge. How long is cream cheese good for in general?
Cream cheese does go bad. Its shelf life will be longer than the date printed on the container indicates. However, this is a very perishable item and should be refrigerated at all times.
If you store your cream cheese correctly, you will get the best out of its shelf life. If not, you will have to let your unopened or half-full containers with cream cheese go to waste.
How to Store Cream Cheese?
First off, cream cheese should always be refrigerated. Don’t leave the cheese at room temperature for a few hours as it may cause it to go bad. Some experts say that you can leave cream cheese at room temperature for around 4 hours and it will still be safe for consumption. Others, however, claim that cream cheese shouldn’t be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
For safety reasons, we recommend keeping cream cheese in the fridge if you are not using it at the moment.
In certain cases, such as for baking tasks or dips, you need the cheese to be well-softened. So, how to avoid not leaving it at room temperature if there is no other way of softening it? The solution to this problem is quite logical. Cut the cheese into smaller pieces and you will see how quickly it warms up and softens.
Now that you know that you should always refrigerate your cream cheese, it is time to learn how to store it properly whether you have opened the container or brick of cream cheese or not.
Storing Opened Cream Cheese
If you have used some of the cheese, you need to make sure to store the rest properly so that the cheese doesn’t dry out or go bad.
In this respect, it is easier to store cream cheese that comes in containers. Simply close the lid tightly to make sure the cheese isn’t exposed to air.
If you find the original packaging not secure enough, transfer the cheese into an airtight container.
Storing Unopened Cream Cheese
Store unopened cream cheese in the fridge in its original packaging, If the latter is damaged, put the cheese into a freezer bag pushing out as much as possible.
Keep the cheese in the farthest corner of the fridge for the coolest temperature.
Can You Freeze Cream Cheese?
The freezer will provide the longest shelf life for cream cheese. However, there is one drawback. Once frozen and defrosted, the texture of cream cheese changes. It becomes slightly grainy and crumbly. This happens as a result of the high water content of cream cheese. Ice crystals form in the cheese and then thaw causing it to separate.
Storing cream cheese in the freezer properly will minimize these changes.
If you have a container of unopened cream cheese, store it in the freezer as is. Simply wrap it with a layer of cling wrap for an extra layer of protection.
Bricks of cream cheese that come in a cardboard or foil packaging should also be covered with a layer of food wrap.
Opened cream cheese should be stored more carefully as the risks of it getting a freezer burn or absorbing odors from other items in the freezer are higher. Thus, we recommend transferring the leftovers into an airtight container that is not too big for the amount of cheese you are freezing. Freezer bags are also very convenient to use for freezing cream cheese.
Once you have transferred the cheese into an airtight container or bag, label it with the date and try to use it as soon as possible as frozen food loses its flavor qualities over time.
Defrosting Cream Cheese
To defrost cream cheese transfer it from the freezer into the fridge and leave it there overnight. A bigger container of cream cheese may take up to 24 hours to defrost.
Never let the cheese thaw at room temperature. Doing this will cause the cheese to become excessively grainy and separated.
If your defrosted cream cheese is too grainy for your liking, there is an easy way to fix it.
Once thawed, microwave the cheese for 10 seconds and give it a good stir. Do this a few times until the cheese becomes creamy again. While doing this may not make the cheese as creamy as it originally was it will certainly make it much smoother.
How Long Does Cream Cheese Last?
As cream cheese is a dairy product, you can’t expect it to have a long shelf life.
Unopened cream cheese will last around a month past its expiration date. Opened cream cheese, on the other hand, should be consumed within 7 to 10 days.
The shelf life of cream cheese stored in the freezer is around 6 months. It will most likely stay safe for consumption for longer. However, the taste and the texture of the cheese will deteriorate significantly if you leave the cheese in the cold storage for too long.
How Can You Tell If Cream Cheese Is Bad?
No matter what date is printed on your cream cheese packaging, you should be able to detect spoiled cream cheese.
Here are the signs to tell you that your cream cheese has gone bad.
- Yellow color. While cream cheese doesn’t have a pure white color, it is not yellow either. Thus, if you see that your cheese has started to turn yellow, discard it. Any trace of green is also an indication of the fact that your cream cheese is bad.
- Sour smell. You know it is never good when your dairy products smell sour. Cream cheese is not an exception. If it smells sour, time to throw it away.
- Mold. It goes without saying that if you see any growth in food, you should never try to eat it.
Don’t notice any of the abovementioned signs in your cream cheese? Taste it. If it doesn’t taste sour or off-putting, go ahead and spread it on your bagel.
If you notice separation, i.e. liquid accumulated on top of your cream cheese, don’t be alarmed. It is a natural process in the case of cream cheese sold in plastic containers.
How Long Does Homemade Cream Cheese Last?
In case you didn’t know, you can make cream cheese at home. And it is not as complicated of a process as you may think. You only need milk and some kind of acid.
As homemade cream cheese doesn’t contain any preservatives and stabilizers, its shelf is not as long.
Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, your homemade cream cheese will last around a week.
How Long Does Cream Cheese Frosting Last?
Cream cheese is widely used to make frosting. The shelf life of cream cheese frosting is quite long. It can last up to 14 days in the fridge.
If you know you won’t be using your cream cheese frosting within two weeks, freeze it. Not only will it not suffer major texture changes but you will also have cream cheese frosting ready at hand for at least 3 months.