Out of all the things you can have in your fridge, shredded cheese is by far the fastest to catch mold. Naturally, cheese is very temperature sensitive and swiftly spoils compared to other types of food.
Mold from cheese can also spread to other food stored in your fridge, and risk contaminating everything.
So how do you maintain such a finicky food that’s commonly used in most meals? If you’re a cheese lover, you need to learn how to keep shredded cheese from molding from the moment you buy it, up until it’s all used.
Since cheese is very vulnerable to mold, you have to be tactful while preserving it. There are many ways to store shredded cheese, all you have to do is decide which is best for you.
Let’s Try To Understand Why Does Cheese Mold So Fast?
Cheese is usually stored in the fridge with its plastic packaging or some kind of cling wrap. Since the environment inside a refrigerator is not well ventilated and has moisture, bacteria tend to grow rapidly.
The smallest unit of mold is called a spore, which is invisible to the naked eye. Once a spore lands on cheese or any other type of food, it quickly forms an entire network of hyphae, which fungi use to feed off of food. As the fungi reproduces and spreads to all parts of the cheese, it becomes visible to us as mold.
How fast mold forms on cheese depends on how soft the cheese actually is. Cheese can be soft, semi soft, semi hard, or hard. The softer it is, the faster mold can spread over it. Also, mold grows in higher quantities on soft cheeses than harder ones.
This is because soft cheese contains more moisture and is fresher in comparison to hard cheese. The watery content of the soft cheese facilitates more bacterial growth, causing more fungi spores to come in contact with the cheese and reproduce quickly.
Different Ways to Keep Shredded Cheese from Molding
Even with the naturally vulnerable state of shredded cheese, you can still take measures to slow down the molding process.
The flavor of shredded cheese starts to change as soon as you bring it home from the store. Overly cold temperatures will stop its flavor from evolving, whereas humidity and heat will cause bacterial growth. These methods keep the flavors of shredded cheese constant while also preventing mold –
Method 1: Set Proper Fridge Temperature
The first mistake of storing any type of cheese in the fridge is by keeping it in extremely cold temperatures. While the absence of heat will prevent any mold from growing, the flavor of the cheese becomes bland and inedible.
On your fridge, there are temperature settings from 1 to 5, with 5 being the coldest. If your fridge is frequently stocked with a lot of food, setting 3 or 4 should be fine to also store cheese. If it’s partially empty, 2 or 3 is enough to keep cheese fresh.
In general, shredded cheese can stay fresh for up to 6 months in an airtight container stored at 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
Method 2: Ventilated Fridge
Does the cheese you keep in your fridge always end up catching mold in a couple of days? The problem might be your refrigerator itself.
Fridges with little to no ventilation are the perfect breeding ground for mold. The lack of any aeration, your fridge can lose its overall ability to block out heat. This causes humidity to form inside the fridge and cause fungi spores to catch onto cheese quickly.
You can have an expert look at your fridge to fix any ventilation issues or replace the fridge for one that has sufficient air circulation.
Method 3: Store in Freezer
If you’re not planning to use your shredded cheese for a while but want to keep it fresh for a long time, you can store it in the freezer. In its original packaging or another airtight sealed bag, shredded cheese can be frozen and kept fresh for up to 6 months.
When you wish to use it, you can take the cheese out, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, then use it the next day.
By freezing the cheese, you’re preventing any mold from growing at all. The cold temperature kills any bacteria and therefore stops the formation of mold at the root of the cause.
But, we recommend using the cheese quickly and not storing it in the freezer for too long as the cheese starts to lose its flavor.
Method 4: Resealable Container or Bag
To completely eliminate any chances of bacteria coming in contact with the cheese, you can store it in a resealable container or bag in your fridge at about 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keeping shredded cheese in an airtight container or bag creates a barrier between it and the outside environment. This means that fungi spores that travel by air cannot land on the cheese and therefore mold cannot form. It also helps to retain the moisture of the cheese to keep it soft.
However, keeping cheese in airtight conditions for too long can also cause it to lose its flavor. So, change the container or bag from time to time and use up the cheese as quickly as you can.
Shredded Cheese Storing Tips for Keeping Fresh
Apart from storing shredded cheese properly, here are more things you can do to extend the shelf-life of cheese –
Shredded cheese stored in the fridge or freezer tends to clump together and freeze into hardened chunks. This makes it harder for the cheese to thaw out before using it. Plus, breaking apart these clumps may cause the shreds to break into smaller pieces, causing a mess.
When putting the shredded cheese into an airtight bag or container, take a spoonful of butter and add it to the cheese. The butter acts as a lubricant to keep the shreds from clumping together.
Even if the shreds do stick onto one another, the butter will prevent it from hardening. So when you thaw the cheese, the shreds easily slide off each other.
Parchment or Cheese Paper
As we’ve mentioned before, cold temperatures can cause shredded cheese to lose its flavors. A good way to prevent this is by covering the cheese in parchment paper or cheese paper. Waxed paper also works just as fine.
The moisture of the cheese is what keeps it soft and flavorful. Cold temperatures dry out the cheese and reduce the flavors and aroma. Materials such as parchment paper and cheese paper are breathable and protective, which helps to block out mold while also preventing the cheese from drying out.
So, always consider wrapping up the cheese in parchment paper before putting it inside any container or bag to preserve the flavor.
Label the Date
On the container or bag you keep the shredded cheese in, add a sticky note or label with the date of first use written on it. This means you have to write the exact date you first wrapped/stored the cheese onto the container. Then, put the container into the fridge.
Labeling the date of first use will help you keep track of when to replace the container/bag and if the cheese is coming close to its expiry date. You will also know if the cheese is still fresh with flavors to decide if you want to use it in a meal.
Handle the Cheese with Care
When you first open the packaging of the shredded cheese, remember to never use your bare hands while handling it. You can have bacteria on your hands that may come in contact with the cheese and cause mold to form quickly.
Wash your hands thoroughly and use disposable food prep gloves while packing and wrapping the cheese. This might seem like too much work, but it will definitely keep your cheese fresh for longer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does shredded cheese get moldy?
Shredded cheese generally has a larger surface area. This means that each shred is small enough for mold to spread through quickly. As a result, shredded cheese gets moldier in comparison to most cheese types as the mold spores can go through it faster.
How long can shredded cheese stay in the fridge?
In an airtight container with a fridge at 41 degrees Fahrenheit, shredded cheese can be stored for up to 6 months. However, this all depends on how you prepare the cheese for storage and the conditions of your refrigerator. Take a look through our storing tips for more information.
Can you eat shredded cheese with mold?
Some cheese types are somewhat safe to eat even if they get moldy. But, since most molds are harmful to the body, we advise against taking the risk of falling ill from consuming moldy shredded cheese.
Can you store cheese in aluminum foil?
Yes, you can wrap your shredded cheese in aluminum foil. This acts a lot like an airtight container or bag. So, you will have to change the foil from time to time. We suggest wrapping the cheese in parchment paper or cheese paper first to preserve the flavors and aroma.
Is white powder on shredded cheese mold?
No, the white substance you see on the cheese is actually calcium lactate. It forms when the cheese starts to get old, so a buildup of calcium naturally forms over the surface. Unlike mold, a thin calcium lactate buildup on cheese is completely safe to eat.
To summarize, to know how to keep shredded cheese from molding, you first need to know the optimum conditions of the cheese and try to maintain it.
This means keeping your fridge ventilated and at the right temperature, keeping proper hygiene while handling the cheese, and using the right storage techniques that will not dry out the cheese.
We hope you’ve learned how to keep your shredded cheese fresh and mold-free for longer. Before trying out the techniques, we recommend going through the storage tips to know how to preserve the flavor and aroma of the cheese.