Did you just buy a larger piece of parmesan cheese and wonder what the best way for the storage to increase its shelf life is? Read further to find out how to keep the parmesan flavor and texture longer.
Does It Need to Be Refrigerated?
While hard cheeses like Parmesan can be stored at room temperature, refrigeration will help to extend their shelf life. However, it is not necessary to refrigerate Parmesan cheese for safety reasons as it is a hard cheese.
If you leave it at room temperature for a more extended time, you may notice that it will start to sweat as the fat from the cheese will begin to separate, and the texture will change.
The rule of thumb: If the parmesan cheese is in its unopened package and uncut, you can leave it for a few days at room temperature in a dark and cool place.
But there is a high risk that the texture may change as the parmesan cheese may start to sweat. If you opened the package or you bought parmesan wedges, for the best texture and flavors, it is recommended to wrap the parmesan in parchment or wax paper to allow it to breathe. Afterward, put it in the fridge or a cold and dark place.
Are you looking to keep most of the original texture and taste of the parmesan cheese? Then it is recommended to follow the steps below that will help you to keep the parmesan cheese correctly:
- Keep Parmesan cheese in a cool, dark place.
- If you damaged its original package or cut a piece of parmesan cheese, wrap it in parchment paper.
- Don’t leave Parmesan cheese uncovered or, even worse, in a tightly closed container – it will spoil.
What Happens if You Don’t Refrigerate It?
If the pre-dried parmesan cheese is sealed in its original package, then this cheese will last for a more extended time. If you shred the parmesan or just cut a wedge, it will lose its moisture content much more quickly.
Best Temperature for Storage?
When storing food, it’s important to choose the right temperature. The wrong temperature can cause food to spoil.
The best temperature for storage is between 37 degrees and 45 degrees Fahrenheit (2-7 degrees Celsius). This temperature range is ideal for preserving food without damaging it.
Store Parmesan In Different Forms
Before we begin, try to avoid already shredded parmesan cheese to get the best taste from the parmesan.
If you want the best flavor from the parmesan cheese, buy it in wedges and freshly shred it before you use it in your recipes.
Unopened Parmesan Wheel
If we’re referring to a waxed big parmesan wheel, it will stay for a few years. If you keep it in a cold place, it will be good for even 5-10 years.
But as a parmesan wheel weighs about 72 lbs, it is very rare to find a full cheese wheel in somebody’s pantry. Because of that, let’s go to the next form of storage parmesan.
Opened Parmesan Cut
After we cut or open the original package of the parmesan cheese, the shelf life will be a lot shorter, and it is easier for the parmesan to lose its original texture and flavor.
But, if you put it in an airtight container, the parmesan cheese will suffocate and spoil in less than two weeks.
To avoid that, just wrap it in parchment or wax paper.
To protect the cheese even more from any moisture from the fridge, consider wrapping the cheese in aluminum foil.
Such pieces of parmesan cheese will last anywhere from 6 to 20 weeks in the fridge.
Quick Note: You will get the best results if you can use a vacuum sealer to divide the cheese into a few portions and seal the package. By doing that, you will remove all the air excesses that will stop the process of growing bacteria on it.
As I said earlier, buying and using shredded parmesan is not recommended, as the flavors will not be as intense as freshly shredded parmesan.
But, if you already purchased a package of shredded parmesan, or you will use it in some dishes where the taste of the parmesan is not the most important.
It is recommended to keep it in containers that are special for storing cheese. Usually, they have a small hole on the top of the container, allowing the shredded cheese to breathe.
How to Fix Dried Parmesan?
Did you notice that your piece of parmesan has dried? Should you throw it away? Not yet. We can try to resurrect it.
The main reason the parmesan cheese dried out was that you stored the cheese in the wrong conditions or the best-by-date had passed.
Suppose the reason for the dryness of the parmesan was incorrect storage conditions. In that case, try to soak a kitchen towel in water (remove all the water excesses) or, even better, find cheesecloth and cover the parmesan cheese.
After that, for even better results, wrap it in cling film to avoid absorbing other odors from the fridge and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
Don’t keep the parmesan cheese covered in a watered towel for more than 16-18 hours as it may become soggy or even moldy, and in the shortest time, the parmesan cheese will become spoiled.
If you don’t have time, you may prepare delicious cheese sauce or nuggets.
If you want to avoid the dryness and change in texture and flavor of the parmesan cheese, here are a few recommendations that will help you to keep the parmesan cheese with its original texture and taste.
Wrap in Wax Paper
If you cut the parmesan cheese into smaller pieces like wedges, and you know that you will not consume all the parmesan in the near weeks, it is recommended to wrap the cheese in wrap paper. This will minimize the air contact with the cheese and keep its texture.
Wrap in Aluminum Foil
If you want to be even safer, consider wrapping the parmesan cheese in parchment paper than in aluminum foil to avoid any moisture or liquids, especially if you are planning to freeze it for a more extended time.
If this is the case, consider also dividing the parmesan cheese into smaller pieces so you will remove from the freezer the exact amount of cheese you need for one recipe.
By doing that, you will minimize the air contact with the rest of the cheese that you will not use for now, and it will keep its texture and taste.
Store It in the Bottom Compartment
As the hot air is lighter, it is not a secret that on the top shelves of the fridge, the temperature is higher and more inconsistent as it may change.
Because of that, to be safe with your parmesan cheese, consider storing it at the bottom shelf where the temperature will be the lowest from your fridge, and most importantly, it will remain the same all the time.
Can You Freeze It?
Yes, you can freeze parmesan cheese. However, it’s important to note that the quality of the cheese will suffer when it’s frozen. You may notice some changes in texture and flavor.
If you plan to serve it on a cheese plate, it is recommended to store it in the fridge. If you use the parmesan later in some dishes where you will melt it, then you can safely freeze it for up to 6 months without noticing too many changes.
The shelf life of parmesan cheese is typically from 6-18 months if we’re referring to an unopened block of parmesan cheese. If you damage its original package, you can keep it for 2-3 months wrapped in parchment or wax paper.
Yes, you can keep the parmesan even longer, but after that period, you will notice that the texture and flavors will start to degrade.
Signs of Spoilage
If you’re noticing any of the following signs from the list below, that means that your piece of parmesan has started to spoil. Be careful what you will do with that piece of parmesan cheese.
Signs that parmesan cheese may be spoiled:
- It started to smell differently. It has a sour or unpleasant smell.
- The texture has changed. It’s crusty and hard to slice.
- Appearance changed. The cheese has a greenish, yellow, or brown tinge to it.
Parmesan vs Parmigiano-Reggiano
When we’re referring to Parmigiano-Reggiano, we mean the authentic Italian parmesan cheese with many rules that should be followed, which allow you to class the parmesan the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
For an authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano, the parmesan cheese should be produced from unpasteurized cow’s milk in one of the following Italian provinces like Parma, Reggio-Emilia, Bologna, Modena, or Mantua.
Also, this premium cheese is made only from milk produced between April and November when the cows are eating fresh grass, and the milk they have is of a higher quality.
Most probably, you will find this authentic cheese only in the territory of Italy and maybe in some neighboring countries across Europe. If we are referring to the US, we will find a similar cheese called parmesan.