Does Hard Cheese Go Bad? How Long Does Hard Cheese Last?

Cheese has a long history. It is made in a few different ways and can be stored using different methods. But can it go bad? In this article, we will discuss that, as well as other storage-related questions.

Quick Answer

Hard cheese will go bad over time. If cheese is left outside it will last for around 1-3 hours before bacteria begins to grow. If in the refrigerator, cheese can last for about 4 weeks. If stored in the freezer, cheese can last for up to 9 months. There are three ways to store hard cheeses, and two of these ways can help prolong the cheese from going bad sooner. These methods are refrigeration or freezing.


Let’s look into the varying factors that go into hard cheese going bad, as well as other things that can play a role:

Does Hard Cheese Go Bad? How Long Does Hard Cheese Last?

Just like anything else in life, eventually all things will start to decay. Hard cheese is one of those things that will eventually go bad, even with proper precautions. While this is a fact of life, there are things we can do to help prolong the process. Below are some ways many people store hard cheeses within their household:

How Long Does Hard Cheese Last Outside?

If you were to store hard cheese outside in the elements, it would probably last only a few hours before it starts to go bad. Some cheeses are able to last months if unopened, but you should always check the label.

If hard cheese is being served at a party, a good rule of thumb is to not leave it out for more than four hours. This will help ensure optimal safety, and will prevent bacteria from growing.

Hard cheese is able to be left out longer than soft cheese, due to the nature of the cheese-making process. This offers flexibility in your hosting options.

How Long Does Hard Cheese Last in the Fridge?

Hard cheese can be stored in a properly functioning refrigerator for a good while. It does depend on the specific cheese, but as a general rule if the cheese is unopened, it can last for up to 6 months.

If the hard cheese has already been opened and you decide to store the rest of it in the refrigerator, it can last for about 4 weeks. This is assuming it is sealed in such a way that air cannot get to it.

There are two exceptions to this rule: Parmesan and Pecorino cheese. If unopened, these can last up to 9 months!

How Long Does Hard Cheese Last in the Freezer?

While you may not experience the best taste if your hard cheese is stored in the freezer, it is a storage possibility that many choose to opt into.

If you decide to freeze your hard cheeses, there is a special way to do it to prevent freezer burn. If done properly, they can last for up to 6 months. This may come in handy if you run out of room in your refrigerator.

The best hard cheese to consider storing in the freezer would be Swiss, cheddar, parmesan, Gouda, and provolone. All others should be stored in the refrigerator for optimal flavor and texture.

So, as you can see it is possible to store hard cheese in the freezer, refrigerator, and at room temperature. Let’s explore other elements of hard cheese that may prove helpful in the future.

How To Tell If Hard Cheese Has Gone Bad / How To Know If Hard Cheese is Fresh

If your cheese has been around for a while, you may be debating if it’s still safe to consume or whether it’s time to throw it away. Thankfully, there are ways to determine if your hard cheese has gone bad. There are three major things to look out for when determining whether your hard cheese is any good or not:

  • Taste: If the hard cheese does not taste like it did recently, it may be time to consider sending it on to the waste.
  • Appearance: Mold will be one of the most obvious things you will see in hard cheese that is beginning or has already gone bad. If you see mold begin to grow on corners or one localized spot, you can scrape that part off and more than likely safely consume the rest of the cheese.
  • Smell: If you notice your hard cheese having a strange smell, you may want to throw it away. Bacteria can produce certain gases as they decompose matter, giving off a certain smell.

If you notice any or all of these things, it’s safe to assume that the cheese has gone bad and should be thrown away. If you don’t notice any of these things when you buy or cheese, your hard cheese is assumed to be fresh.

How to Store Hard Cheese?

If you want to store your hard cheeses, you have three options:

  • Room Temperature: Certain types of hard cheese can be left out at room temperature, albeit just for a short time period (less than 4 hours).If you have what’s called uncured cheese, they can be stored for much longer periods of time at room temperature.
  • Refrigerator: You can store cheese in the refrigerator for anywhere between a few weeks to a few months, depending on the variety.
  • Freezer: There are a few hard cheeses that can be stored in the freezer. This requires special preparations, however, to prevent freezer burn.

Can You Freeze Hard Cheese? How?

If you’re wondering whether the leftover cheese you have can be frozen, the answer is yes. See the following steps below for the different freezing options you have:

  • Original Packaging: In many cases, you can simply place the hard cheese in the freezer in its original packaging. If this is not possible due to tears or damage to the packaging, see the next option below.
  • Freezer Bag/Ziplock: If the original packaging is damaged, you can place the cheese in a freezer or ziplock bag. If you are going to go this route, make sure to squeeze any remaining air out of the bag before placing it in the freezer.

Keep in mind that freezing your cheese will alter the flavor and texture over time. Some cheeses will freeze better than others, so always consider whether freezing is going to be your best storage option. Some frozen cheeses can last for up to 8 months.

How to Thaw Hard Cheese?

If you have hard cheese that has been in the freezer for a while, you can thaw it out by either setting it on the counter, or placing it in the fridge.

Try to refrain from microwaving the cheese. This could change the composition of the cheese, affecting the taste and texture in a negative way.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hard Cheese

Why Does Hard Cheese Last Longer Than Soft Cheese? Hard cheeses typically have a longer shelf life than soft cheese. Extra moisture makes it easier for bacteria and mold to grow, and this is why soft cheese does not last as long. Hard cheese contains less moisture, making it harder for bacteria and mold to grow.

Can I Age Hard Cheese? Cheese can be aged using a plastic container in a cool place. Provide ventilation beneath it. The lid will need to be wrapped in a cloth to prevent any moisture from dripping onto the cheese. Then, age cheese for a few months, depending on your goals.

Wrap Up

Hard cheese is a delicious and nutritious snack. They can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 hours, the fridge or the freezer for around 6 months. Always make sure to properly wrap cheese when storing in the fridge or freezer. Do you like cheese? Let us know in the comments below!

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