Learn how long you can expected for grated, shredded, or shaved Parmesan cheese to last and why you might want to consider grating a block of Parmesan yourself.
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There isn't much more disappointing when you are looking to top your meal off with some yummy Parmesan cheese only to discover it's moldy or stinky.
You think maybe if I would have planned this better, it would not have happened. In a a lot of case that would be true. It comes down to learn how long you have with it in the first place before you need to be concerned about it going bad.
For this post we aren't talking about the cheese that you find on a store shelf in a green canister that you shake out. We are talking about the real deal that you find in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. They come in an airtight container.
📅 Best By Dates
On a June 29th trip to the grocery store, I examined the dates on the containers of Parmesan. One example was "Best by October 11", which is over 3 months away. That doesn't mean that it's going to suddenly go bad by the date, but it's what the company itself determines that their product is best eaten by.
If there is a good deal you can easily stock up for a while and not have to worry about the quality unlike with soft cheeses like Brie or cream cheese that won't last as long. Parmesan has a low moisture content, which is why it lasts so long.
🗓️ How Long Does It Last?
But does that change when you open it? An unopened package last for months. Most packages say once you open it, you should use it within 3-5 days of opening. I believe this is a suggestion more than a hard rule. I think it can last longer as long as you are keeping it dry and storing in the fridge when not using.
A week or maybe more is not unreasonable at all. It will eventually go south. The typical reason is due to mold growth as moisture got into the container at some point while you were using it such as having it sitting open on your dinner table on a humid day.
It also depends on if anything is added to the cheese. Some companies add other ingredients like cellulose or corn starch to prevent caking and natamycin (a preservative) as a mold inhibitor. On these packages I do not see a note to use by a certain date after opening as they expect their product to last longer.
Be careful to read packaging, especially if you do not want any preservatives. Most containers do seem to have added preservatives. I did find a container from Bella Rosa that had no added preservatives, just cheese. BelGioOso sells both with and without at the time of the publishing of this post. You have to look for their All Natural Cheese Cups. Check the ingredient list.
❓ Does It Matter What Type?
Does it matter if your Parmesan is grated, shredded, or shaved? Maybe a little. I think with the shaved pieces I have seen them get moldy quicker. The pieces tend to stick together more, so I think it's more likely for moisture to get trapped between the shavings giving mold a chance to grow.
I also don't think it matters much if you are buying domestic Parmesan versus Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy.
RELATED - A simple pasta dish using shredded or grated Parmesan cheese.
🥶 Can You Freeze?
Grated or shredded Parmesan could be frozen. Freezing will help prevent the cheese from developing mold. But do you need to freeze it? I do not find it necessary, so I haven't actually ever done it. I hear it could potentially affect the quality of the cheese. It lasts in the fridge long enough to not be any issue.
What if you don't use it very often in your house? Maybe it's just you and one other person? That leads us into our top tip that will be beneficial for these households or any household.
💡 Top Tip
The best way to not have to worry about your Parmesan going bad is to buy whole parmesan wedges. I have had them last for months without any issues whatsoever. I am not exaggerating. The only thing you are losing out out on is the convivence. It's often cheaper per pound.
🤚🏼 Grating Yourself
You can shave your own Parmesan by using a sharp knife, making thin cuts. But I think the easiest way is with a quality vegetable peeler, like the one from Zyliss. You just shave off pieces from the hard cheese. The type of peeler will decide how long or wide your pieces are. The standard sized peeler seems to work the best.
You can shred or grate your own with a box grater. Use the small holes on the grater for grating and the larger holes if you to want to shred it. Always pick a box grater with 4 sides, so that's it's steady when being used. I am not a fan of ones that collapsible so you can store them better as they could easily collapse when you don't want them too.
The graters that are just a handle and a grater are fine for small amounts but anything bigger it's easier to go with the box grater.
📦 Storing Leftover Parmesan
If we are talking about buying Parmesan that is already shaved or grated, then just keep it in the container it came in.
If we are talking about whole Parmesan, then you have a few options to store it in. A plastic bag or plastic wrap is not a great choice as moisture can collect against the cheese. It doesn't allow it to breathe. Better options would include wrapping it in:
Aluminum foil could work as well in a pinch but I like the options above better. Parchment paper would work too but wax paper is cheaper. Your main goal is to keep it from drying out in the fridge.
Parmesan rinds should never just be thrown out, they can be used in recipes. They are great to just toss into soups like my Asparagus Ends Soup. It will pick up all of that delicious flavor.
🙋🏼 More Cheese Questions Answered
Let's answer some more of your cheese questions.