Cream cheese makes everything more delicious, whether it’s used for spreading on crackers for a quick snack or for making a dip extra creamy, or for baking a special cheesecake. Cheese lovers will surely have a tub of this in their refrigerator and serious bakers horde packs of it in their pantry.
But, have you ever craved that smooth, delicious cheese, but then found that your cream cheese has gone past its expiry date? It is such a waste to throw out good food, so here’s everything you need to know about how long cream cheese lasts – and how long you can extend its shelf life.
How To Keep Your Cream Cheese Safe
How Long Does Cream Cheese Last Unopened?
Let’s say you have bought a few extra tubs of cream cheese at the supermarket. Perhaps they were on sale at a bargain price you couldn’t resist or maybe you bought more than you needed for a baking project. Chances are, there are one or two now lying in your fridge unopened.
The good news is, your unopened cream cheese is probably still safe to enjoy! Because of modern packing techniques and production standards, food products are preserved much longer.
Unopened plastic tub of cream cheese can last up to a month after the sell-by date, which should be marked prominently on the container. In a foil pack, cream cheese can last up to two months past the sell-by or best before date.
How Long Does Cream Cheese Last Opened?
Once you’ve broken the manufacturer’s seal and exposed your yummy spread to the elements, its shelf life also starts to decrease rapidly. Cream cheese lasts for one to two weeks from the time you open it – if you do not eat it all before that!
How Can You Make Your Cream Cheese Last Longer?
A cream cheese’s life is quite volatile because it has not gone through much processing or pasteurization. It can also be affected by many different factors, such as how high the fat content is, whether it is plain or flavored with fruit, nuts, vegetables, or even fish, and how it is stored.
- The best way that you can extend the cheese’s expiry date is by storing it at a temperature of 40º F and below. A good tip is to leave it in the grocery cooler until the last minute, just before you are about to check out.
- After use, the remaining cream cheese should be put back in the fridge immediately.
- Unopened foil-packaged cream cheese can last up to two months past its sell-by date in the freezer. It is not recommended to store spreadable cream cheese in the freezer, however, as it may affect the texture.
- Cream cheese in plastic containers and most of the flavored varieties can be extended by three to four weeks in the refrigerator. Reduced fat cream cheese lasts two to three weeks unopened in the refrigerator.
Another way to ensure that your cream cheese lasts for a long time is to avoid it getting contaminated once the tub is opened, so be sure that you do not get any stray crumbs or moisture in it. Always store your cream cheese in a dry, airtight container as this will slow down the decay of the cheese and stop mold from growing.
Is It Safe To Use Expired Cream Cheese?
You must check individual sell-by dates carefully as each manufacturer’s process is different. Despite the guidelines above, check your particular cheese before you deem it to be safe for consumption.
Use your senses:
- Cream cheese should be a solid white or cream color, so if there are patches or discoloration, or even visible blue or green mold, throw it out.
- Inspect the texture, which ideally should be smooth, creamy and spreadable. A dry, chalky, grainy or slimy texture is a sign that it’s going off.
- Spoiled cream cheese has a pungent odor, so if it smells funny, rotten or off, it has probably gone bad.
- If the smell and appearance are fine, you can taste the cream cheese a little, if you must. It should not be sour at all. If it tastes, smells and looks good, then there’s nothing to worry about.
Always trust your instincts when deciding whether it had gone off or not. If there is any doubt, throw it out. It’s hard to waste food, but it’s much worse to get food poisoning from cream cheese that’s gone bad.
- Read more: How to Store Blue Cheese?