Cream cheese can help enhance several dishes, whether you eat it as it is (to eat as cheese spread) or use it for baking or cooking food like pasta, sauces or cheesecake. Since this cream cheese is a form of soft cheese, it can be quite difficult to maintain its condition and quality for incredibly long.
Even then, however, cream cheese has several preservatives that can help it last a bit longer than its expiry date. Moreover, cream cheese can last for quite a while (relatively) if you leave it unopened in the fridge.
However, how long cream cheese can last can depend on a range of factors. For instance, the brand you buy, its processing method, its expiry date written on the packaging, how you happen to store it as well as surrounding conditions can affect the quality and lifespan of cream cheese.
If you have been wondering whether or not that box of tempting cream cheese in your fridge is still worth using, make sure you account for these factors. You can go through further details about this below.
Cream Cheese Storage Conditions
How exactly should you store cream cheese? As soon as you buy it, you must make it a point to store it in the fridge. This is because cream cheese (along with the other ingredients that give it its form) is perishable and quite vulnerable to the onset and growth of bacteria.
Soft cheeses like cream cheese, in particular, are prone to bacteria like Listeria, which can then lead to several health issues if you happen to consume the affected cream cheese.
This is mainly because keeping cream cheese and other such perishables at room temperature for too long can expose them to such bacteria. Room temperatures are usually at or more than 40°F, with 40°F to 140°F being the danger zone that can allow bacteria to thrive and multiply rapidly.
Thus, leaving it out at room temperature for more than two hours will ruin its safety and quality.
To avoid this, it is imperative for you to keep it in the fridge in its packaging (if unopened). If you have opened the box and want to keep it back in the fridge, make sure you seal it back with the lid tightly or use an airtight container, plastic wrap or aluminum foil; otherwise, too much moisture and odors in the fridge might make their way into it.
Another important point that you should note in this regard is the use of spoons or knives for taking some cream cheese for the purpose of spreading it on something or for cooking.
Since the cutlery you use is likely to contact other food in the process, placing it back in to take some more cheese out can expose it to bacteria and other unfavorable conditions. Instead, you can simply remove the desired amount of cream cheese at once so that you do not end up reusing the knife/spoon.
Can I Put Cream Cheese in the Freezer?
Technically, yes, you can put cream cheese in the freezer. In fact, this is a pretty good way of ensuring that it remains safe and lasts for a couple of months, allowing you to remove and use it whenever required.
In order to freeze the cream cheese, you should follow a few steps to ensure that it remains safe. If, for instance, you have not yet opened up the box, you can simply put the entire box in the freezer.
However, if you have opened it, make sure you seal it back with the lid tightly in its place. If you cannot do this, remove the cream cheese in an airtight container or place it in aluminum foil, plastic freezer wrap or a durable freezer bag.
You should note here that freezing cream cheese will retain its taste and quality for up to two months, but the texture and consistency might change, becoming grainy and crumbly. You can still use it to cook or bake some dishes, but you will not be able to use it as a spread.
Whenever you want to use the cream cheese again, move it to the fridge and use it within four days or immediately if you defrost it in the microwave.
Further Reading: How To Soften Cream Cheese: 5 Easy Ways For Every Occasion
The shelf life of cream cheese should be mentioned on the packaging, although you can still use it for a bit longer than that. Let’s take a look.
If your box of cream cheese is still unopened, then it can retain its quality and safety for as much as 3-4 weeks beyond its expiry date, mainly due to the presence of preservatives. However, this is only possible if you have kept it refrigerated throughout this time.
Moreover, several other variables can make a difference here. For instance, the packaging, the processing method, the brand and how long you keep it out at room temperature after buying it can impact the lifespan of cream cheese.
Some kinds of cheese might even last for a week or two after the expiry date.
If you have already opened the cream cheese, you should eat it within ten days while also keeping it sealed and safe in the fridge throughout this period.
Of course, in either case, if you freeze the cream cheese, you can make it last at its best quality for up to two months. It will still remain safe beyond this point, but its quality will begin to degrade gradually.
Ways to Figure Out If Cream Cheese Has Gone Bad
- If it smells bad, sour, pungent or downright rotten, chuck it out.
- If its texture is too dry, cracked and grainy, it might have gone bad.
- If its white color appears yellow, it has gone bad.
- If you notice mold or dark spots on the cheese, you should throw it out.
- If there is some liquid in parts of the box, it might have gone bad.
- If it looks and smells fine, taste it a bit to confirm.
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