Cheese is one type of food that is often misunderstood in terms of recommended storage. Because it is a dairy product, most people simply assume that it must be refrigerated, regardless of the situation or type of cheese. In reality, however, while no cheese will suffer from being refrigerated, it doesn’t all need to be. The following information will help you understand whether you need to refrigerate your cheese, but when in doubt, remember that putting it in the fridge generally won’t cause any harm.
The one type of cheese that must always be refrigerated is soft cheese. You should ideally put it in the fridge at a temperature somewhere between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit as this is ideal for preserving freshness. The reason that it is so essential to refrigerate soft cheese is that if you don’t do so, the cheese will begin to dry out. In addition, a thin oil layer will begin to form around the cheese, separating it. Refrigerating the soft cheese will also add a great deal of time to its shelf life, so you don’t have to rush to finish it.
While soft cheeses must always be refrigerated, you have the option when it comes to hard cheeses. This is due to their lower quantities of moisture. The thing to remember, however, is that while a hard grating cheese (like Romano or Parmesan) can last a good amount of time without refrigeration, you will eventually want to put it in the fridge to preserve its lifespan.
Ideal Cheeses For Non-Refrigeration
If you truly love cheese, but are short on room in your refrigerator, it helps to know which cheeses will do best without refrigeration. These cheeses are also ideal to take with you on trips or to store for a longer period of time. Generally speaking, hard cheese is ideal for traveling or other situations where you won’t have a refrigerator handy. Some of the best options include aged gouda, parmigiano reggiano, pecorino, aged cheddar, appenzeller (a slightly softer option that still does well out of refrigeration), Sbrinz (the oldest Swiss cheese), and Piave vecchio.
Freezing CheeseWhile refrigerating cheese will almost never harm it, even if it is unnecessary, the same cannot be said for freezing it. Generally speaking, frozen cheese will have a different texture than fresh or refrigerated cheese and it tends to lose some of its smoothness. If you have to freeze cheese, try to opt for something you plan to cook with, ideally something with a higher fat content or a softer cheese.