Many Ile de France community members ask us this question: “How long does cheese last?“
The answer is rather open-ended, and is based on several factors, such as the type of cheese, how it’s stored after opening, etc.
The first rule of thumb is that no two cheeses are alike. They each have unique properties that affect the aging process.
As a general rule, harder cheeses, like Comté, Gruyère, or Etorki, have a longer shelf life, lasting up to several months in the fridge.
Soft cheeses, on the other hand, spoil faster. These cheeses - such as Brie, Goat cheese or St. Albray - will keep for only a week or two after opening. Blue cheeses, including Bleu d’Auvergne and Roquefort, are even more perishable, and should be eaten within one week of unwrapping. Just be sure that after opening the cheese, you’ve rewrapped it tightly and stored it properly. (For tips on how to store cheese properly, see our recent article on how to wrap cheese.)
If, after you’ve opened and stored the cheese, it acquires mold, you don’t necessarily have to discard it, depending on the type of cheese. Hard-pressed varieties can still be consumed after cutting away a quarter to half-inch on all sides of the visible mold. With soft cheese, however, the mold cannot be removed. These cheeses, and any shredded, crumbled or sliced cheese that has molded, should be discarded.
You should also smell the cheese. In the case of soft-ripened cheese, an ammonia scent signifies spoilage. Pungent cheeses, by nature, are hard to judge on scent alone; this is where the product’s “best used by” date comes in handy. This date is intended to tell you how long the cheese will retain best flavor and quality. After that date has expired, it’s important to use the other indicators to decide whether the cheese is consumable.
Overall, cheese - if cared for correctly - can have a lasting shelf life. The better you store it, the longer you can enjoy it.