Cream cheese is one of those staple ingredients that you are likely to always have in your fridge. It’s so easy to spread, it’s great on bagels, and it’s also a key ingredient in many different foods. But after some time, you may be wondering if they can go bad?
The answer is yes. Just like most dairy products, cream cheese is susceptible to certain bacteria that cause it to go bad.
So what should you do? How can you tell if your cream cheese is bad? What is the shelf life of this product? Let’s find out.
What Is Cream Cheese?
Cream cheese is a soft, smooth cheese with a mild flavor. It has a high-fat content (at least 10%) and you can use it in a variety of foods.
Cream cheeses are made from, you guessed it, cream and cheese. These types of cheeses are made by blending cream with milk and acidifying agents to give it that signature tangy taste.
Cream cheeses traditionally come from cow’s milk, but some manufacturers also make them from goat’s milk or sheep’s milk. There are several different brands of cream cheese, including the popular Philadelphia and Neufchatel brands.
Does Cream Cheese Go Bad?
The short answer is yes. However, it has a very long shelf life when stored properly. Bad cream cheese will have an off smell and taste sour or bitter.
Since cream cheese contains a lot of moisture and fat, it can go bad quickly when you don’t store it properly. When opened from its original packaging, this cheese should be kept in the fridge to maintain freshness for as long as possible.
What Is the Shelf Life of Cream Cheese?
The shelf life of unopened cream cheese depends on a variety of factors, such as the best by date, the preparation method, and how you store it.
Cream cheeses are usually marked with a “best by” date, which means that you can expect your unopened product to last for up to that date. After that date, it may be fine for 3-4 weeks, depending on how the cheese was prepared and how you store it.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, opened cream cheese will last for about 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. This applies to all brands of cream cheese, including Philadelphia (i.e. not just generic brands).
So it is important to keep your cheese in a cold fridge (about 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit) and use it within two weeks of opening. You can also freeze your cheese, but this will change its texture and flavor slightly, making it crumbly instead of smooth.
Can You Eat Expired Cream Cheese?
The answer is yes. According to the USDA, all cheeses are safe to eat for up to four weeks after their expiration date if stored properly (i.e. in the refrigerator).
However, expired cheese is not the same as fresh cheese; and some kinds of cheese are not safe to eat after their expiration date. For instance, if you notice any bad odors or if your cheese is lumpy or watery, play it safe and toss it out. It is not safe to eat cheese that has shown any signs of spoilage.
How to Tell if Cream Cheese Is Bad
There is no single sign to tell if your cream cheese is bad. Here are a few different things to determine if the product in your hand is still good:
Look at the expiration date
The most common way to tell if your cheese is bad is by looking at the expiration date. If the expiration date has passed, then the cheese is probably not good. If the expiration date hasn’t passed yet but you’re still not sure about its freshness, proceed to the next options.
Check for mold
Examine the color of the cream cheese as soon as you open up the package. The color should be pure white or grayish-white, depending on what kind of cheese you purchase.
If you notice any green or brown patches on your cheese, throw it out immediately. This is a sign that mold is growing in your cheese, and eating mold can make you sick.
Look at the texture
Another way to tell if your cheese has gone bad is by taking a look at its texture. If a cheese has gone bad, it will have a clumpy or grainy texture. You should discard such cheese immediately and not eat any of it.
Cream cheeses usually have a mild smell, so you shouldn’t smell anything unusual when you open your product if it’s still good. If you detect an off odor, then the product has spoiled and you should discard it immediately.
How to Preserve Cream Cheese
There are several ways to preserve cream cheese. The best way to do so is to wrap the cheese tightly in a plastic wrap and aluminum foil and then place the wrapped product in the refrigerator. This will keep the taste and texture almost perfect for a long time.
You can also freeze cream cheese. To do so, transfer the cheese into an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze it. The texture of the cheese may change slightly, but it will still be fine for cooking and baking. Just make sure you thaw it in the refrigerator before using it.
Can you freeze cream cheese?
Yes, you can. But keep in mind that it may change the texture a bit. Cream cheese contains a lot of moisture, so when you freeze it, this moisture expands and causes cracks to form in the product.
When thawed in the refrigerator, these cracks will look like white streaks and may give the cheese a grainy texture. If you plan on using your cheese for cooking or baking purposes, freezing and defrosting should not affect its consistency.
Where does cream cheese originate from?
The United States. Cream cheese was invented by William Lawrence, who lived in Chester, New York, in 1872. He was looking for a way to recreate Neufchatel cheese, which was imported from France to New York City.
Since he did not have the right bacteria to make Neufchatel cheese, he accidentally created a new type of cheese.
How do you eat cream cheese?
The most common way to eat cream cheese is by spreading it on bagels, toast, or crackers. This type of cheese is soft and spreadable and comes in many different flavors.
Cream cheeses are also an essential ingredient in some of the most popular dishes, such as cheesecakes, frostings, and dips.
Do cream cheeses get moldy?
Yes, they do. Cream cheeses, like other soft cheeses, have a high moisture content, which makes it easier for mold to grow on their surfaces and within them.
Signs of mold include a color change, which can be green or brown. If your cheese is moldy, don’t just scrape off the moldy part, discard the whole product.
Can you make cream cheese at home?
Yes, you can. The process is simple. You take a quart of heavy cream, add a pint of whole milk, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and salt to taste. Combine in a bowl and let the mixture sit out for 24 hours.
Pour into a colander lined with cheesecloth and let the liquid drain out of the mixture overnight. And that’s it; you have your homemade cheese.
To sum it up, cream cheese does “go bad”. The best thing you can do is follow the guidelines in this article and store your cheese in a container in the refrigerator. This will help preserve its shelf life and your peace of mind.
However, if you notice any discoloration or odd smells emanating from the cheese, it’s best to discard it and buy a fresh package.
Thanks for reading.
Visit Cheffist to learn more about cheeses and their shelf lives.