How to Store Cheese and Keep it Fresh

Written by Ollie Wilkinson

Keep your fridge fresh and free from waste by learning how to store cheese with ease. Our nice and cheesy guide details the best way to maximise freshness, save money, and minimise food waste. No sweat!

The lowdown

Cheese is one of the top five most-wasted foods in the UK, with two million kilograms thrown away at Christmas alone. Two million kilograms! That’s the equivalent weight of 5,000 horses. But here’s the good news: wasted mascarpone is totally avoidable.

Due to the sheer amount bought in festive periods, it can be easy to go from cheeseboard to cheese bored. But that’s no excuse to be binning brie and chuckin’ cheddar.

Cheese belongs in sarnies, salads, and sauces, not oozing across landfills and melting in incinerators.

Keep on scrollin’ to discover the secrets to storing and keeping cheese fresh, and getting the most out of your cheddar.

How to store cheese and keep it fresh

Cheese stays fresher for longer when kept in cool, dark places, away from humidity but with plenty of room to breathe. Different varieties of cheese require different storage methods, but the best way to store any cheese is to wrap it and put it in your fridge’s vegetable crisper drawer.

How to store cheese in five simple steps

Gone-off gorgonzola leaving you a little blue? Faulty feta starting to grate on you? Develop your cheese expertise by following these five easy storage steps:

An illustration showing five steps to keeping cheese fresh: buying little and often, removing plastic packaging, wrapping it in paper, putting the wrapped cheese into the fridge, and putting creamier cheese into a resealable glass container.

Buy little and often

We’ve all been guilty of a forgotten feta in the back of the fridge, right? Well, one of the best ways to fight food waste and maximise freshness is to shop little and often for the groceries you need.

And this doesn’t even have to mean multiple shopping trips. You can get all your groceries delivered in plastic free packaging by joining our sustainable milkround!

Remove plastic packaging

If you’re not yet on our eco-friendly milkround and still buy your cheese in plastic, we recommend removing it from its packaging as soon as you get home.

Plastic can suffocate and alter the taste of your cheese, snatching away flavour and freshness. It may also pose the risk of leaching microplastics into your food.

Wrap it in paper

You can buy waxed paper designed specifically for cheese but baking paper (also known as parchment paper) will also do the trick. Just cut off a square of baking paper and fold it around your cheese as if you’re wrapping a present.

Avoid clingfilm, foil and any other plastic wraps as these can infuse your cheese with the wrong flavours.

You risk the spread of bacteria and gone-off cheese each time you take it out of the wrapper for a nibble. So don’t call it a wrap after parcelling your cheese just once.

Replacing the wrapper every now and then will maintain balance, protect against bacteria and humidity, and keep your cheese fresher for longer.

Put creamier cheeses in resealable containers

Creamier cheeses won’t last long in paper. And frankly, you’d struggle to wrap a pool of ricotta in parchment. These more liquidy cheeses belong in resealable containers. You can also use resealable storage for firmer cheeses to preserve their moisture.

Resealable glass containers are a better choice than plastic as glass keeps your cheese’s flavour without transferring odours to and from other strong-smelling items in your fridge.

Put the wrapped cheese in your fridge

Cheese should be stored in your fridge between 5-8°C. Dark, airy, and consistently cool, your vegetable crisper drawer is the perfect spot. A guaranteed five stars on AirBnBrie.

Aromatic produce like lemons and limes can alter the flavour of your cheese, so we recommend keeping stronger-smelling items in separate areas of your fridge, away from your cheese. Pungent cheeses should also be kept separate from milder cheeses. Otherwise, you may find your cheddar tasting a bit blue!

Should you store cheese in an airtight container?

Yes. An airtight container will protect your cheese from spoiling prematurely, keeping it cool, calm, and collected at a consistent temperature. You can double up on the freshness factor by wrapping cheese in paper before putting it in a resealable container.

How long can you keep cheese in the fridge?

It can take months for cheese to mould in the fridge if you’ve stored it correctly. But shelf lives do vary depending on the type of cheese. A hardy cheddar can last up to eight weeks once it’s been opened. A fresh mozzarella, on the other hand, won’t make it much past a week.

An illustration showing the life expectancies of cheese when stored in the fridge. Parmesan: 3 months, Cheddar: 6 to 8 weeks, Gouda: 4 to 6 weeks, Blue cheese: 2 to 3 weeks, Brief: 2 to 3 weeks, and Mozzarella: 6 to 8 days.

Refrigerating cheese is proof that, while you can’t polish a curd, you can certainly keep it nice and fresh. Here’s the life expectancy of some of your most common cheeses, courtesy of All Recipes:

  • • Parmesan: up to three months (after opening)
  • • Cheddar: six to eight weeks (after opening)
  • • Gouda: four to six weeks (after opening)
  • Blue cheese: two to three weeks (after opening)
  • • Brie: two to three weeks (after opening)
  • • Fresh mozzarella: six to eight days (after opening)

How long does cheese last out of the fridge?

Cheese should not be kept out of the fridge for longer than four hours. After this time, you risk the spread of bacteria and spoilage.

Hard cheeses like cheddar and Devonshire Red are more durable when left out of the fridge. But leaving out soft, high-moisture types like mascarpone and ricotta is a surefire way to go from cheesemonger to cheeseminger.

What’s the recommended serving temperature of cheese?

Chefs recommend serving cheese at room temperature to capture flavour and enhance creamy textures. Cheese should sit for 30 minutes after you take it out of the fridge. Any longer than this and your dish may quickly go from gourmet to dismay.

Does waxed cheese need to be refrigerated?

None of your cheesewax! Just kidding. Wax keeps cheese fresh and cool, but it still needs to be refrigerated.

To preserve flavour and freshness long-term, waxed cheese should be kept with your other cheeses in your fridge’s crisper drawer.

Can you store cheese in clingfilm?

Experts warn against storing cheese in clingfilm. Clingfilm is no gouda as it wraps too tightly around cheese, adding unwanted moisture which can then invite the growth of mould. Clingfilm has also been known to transfer an icky plasticky flavour to cheese.

Check out our eco-friendly clingfilm alternatives to find plastic free storage options for your fromage.

Can you wrap cheese in greaseproof paper?

Yes, you can wrap cheese in greaseproof baking paper or wax paper! Wrapping cheese in greaseproof paper helps to trap in flavour and maintain moisture. The paper also protects against bacteria and mould, while allowing room for your cheese to breathe.

How to deal with mould on cheese

If you notice a few specks of mould on your cheese, don’t have a meltdown. A lot of cheeses are even made using mould! Green and white flecks of surface mould can’t dig far into hard cheeses like cheddar and gruyere, so they can simply be cut off with a knife.

When chopping off unwanted mould from cheese, try to make a clean cut. If you shave or scrape, you could spread the mould further across the surface.

Some types of cheese – like a lovely Cashel Blue – are served intentionally with mould. These blue specks and flecks are nothing to worry about. The mould that you need to watch out for is the stuff that grows on cheese after you’ve bought and cut it, especially red and yellow flecks on harder cheeses.

How to avoid cheese sweating

You may share more in common with cheese than you think. After all, it breathes, ages, matures, and even sweats! And while cheese deodorant is yet to be invented, there are other, more sensible ways to avoid cheese sweating. Cheese sweats when moisture builds up in rising temperatures and has no room to escape. This is why wrapping cheese in clingfilm or keeping it in plastic isn’t a great idea. Instead, you should wrap cheese in paper to ensure it has room to breathe, without trapping humidity, water vapour and condensation.

Fat loosens when you leave it at room temperature, causing it to rise to the surface of your cheese like sweat. Your tasty cheese will start to lose its flavour when these fatty acids escape, so it’s important not to leave cheese unrefrigerated for too long.

One final top tip to avoid cheese sweat is to put a small cube of sugar alongside your cheese in an airtight container. This is especially effective at absorbing excess moisture once you’ve broken into your block.

Can you put cheese in the freezer?

Freezing food is an ideal solution to extending shelf life, avoiding food waste and swerving another expensive trip to the shop. But can you put cheese in the freezer? The answer is, it depends.

Cheese is best enjoyed fresh. Freezing can affect texture and taste, with most frozen cheeses becoming crumbly and dry when thawed. This is down to ice crystals forming inside the cheese in the freezer. Putting blue cheeses in the freezer can also disrupt their intentional mould, causing them to unripen.

An illustration showing the most and least freezable cheeses. Most freezable: Edam, Gouda, Cheddar, grated mozzarella, and Monterrey Jack. The least freezable: Cottage cheese, Stilton, Paneer, Ricotta, Camembert, and Brie.

It’s safe to freeze some types of hard cheeses, but we recommend only doing so if you plan on melting and cooking with them later on. If you’re preserving cheese to snack and nibble on at a later date, avoid freezing it as this can make the texture and taste a little off-putting.

The most freezable cheeses

  • Cheddar
  • Grated mozzarella
  • Gouda
  • Edam
  • Monterrey Jack

The least freezable cheeses

  • Brie
  • Camembert
  • Stilton
  • Ricotta
  • Cottage cheese
  • Paneer

So to summarise, grated and hard cheeses like cheddar and Gouda are freezable if you plan to melt them later, but soft cheeses and snacky cheeses belong only in your fridge.

The real question we know you actually want to ask: how much cheese can I put in my freezer before I can legitimately start calling it a cheeser? The answer: as much as you ruddy well please!

How to freeze cheese

Cheese can be frozen for up to six to nine months. Here’s how to store it correctly in your freezer:

  1. 1. Grate or portion your cheese into servable sizes
  2. 2. Wrap it in baking paper (or waxed cheese paper)
  3. 3. Put it in a freezable airtight container
  4. 4. Place in your freezer

Thawing cheese from the freezer

When thawing frozen cheese, keep it in the fridge for a few days to let it ripen. Once it’s softened, you can throw it right into your sauces and pasta bakes, (almost) good as new!

Fight food waste with freshness

Our eco-friendly milkround is all about fighting plastic and food waste. Looking for more ways to protect your food, planet and purse strings? Check out our other go-to guides:

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