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Does Parmesan Cheese Need to Be Refrigerated?

It is common to wonder if Parmesan must be treated the same way as other cheeses with it comes to refrigeration. I mean, it would be much easier to just leave the stuff on the table instead of cramming it back into the fridge after every spaghetti dinner. So, I looked into it and found a definitive answer for you.

Parmesan cheese should be refrigerated for it to stay fresh for your next meal or recipe. If you bought it in block form, the best way to store it is to wrap it well in wax paper, aluminum foil, or a zipper-lock bag and keep it refrigerated. You could also freeze it if you need to keep it longer.

If the cheese is in block form, you will want to use an airtight storage container similar to one of these types, which can be found on Amazon.

Parmesan cheese can be refrigerated as a block, grated, or shredded. You should always ensure that you wrap it well in wax paper, aluminum foil, or a freezer bag to keep it fresh. For the best results, you should place it in the bottom compartment of the fridge, away from the other stuff. If you want to know everything you need to know about storing parmesan cheese, read on.

How Do You Store Your Parmesan Cheese?


Parmesan cheese is a hard cheese with a longer shelf life compared to other types of cheese or when it is grated. However, like any other cheese, it must be refrigerated; otherwise, it will go bad and become rancid. But as long as it is appropriately stored, its shelf life can be extended, especially since it is often packaged in large quantities.

Parmesan cheese has low levels of moisture, which prevents the growth of mold. Even when a part of the cheese becomes moldy, it is still safe to consume. All you have to do is cut away the moldy part and store the remaining cheese well. Remember, the storage conditions of the cheese will determine how long it will remain fresh.

The best way to store Parmesan cheese blocks is to refrigerate them in airtight containers like these found on Amazon. The blocks should be stored with their rind on, while grated cheese should be kept in a container in the fridge.

Here are tips on the best ways to store your Parmesan cheese and make it stay fresh for as long as possible:

Wrap Your Cheese in Wax Paper

Wax paper will help to preserve the humidity of your cheese and prevent it from drying. Plastic paper is also recommended, but the downside is that plastic will make it sweat too much.

Use Aluminum Foil

To cover your Parmesan cheese completely, you can use heavy-duty aluminum foil after covering it in wax paper. This will not only protect your cheese but will also allow it to breathe. When using aluminum foil, make sure you cover every part of the cheese.

Related Can I Use Grated Parmesan Cheese Instead of Shredded?

Store Your Cheese in the Last Compartment

You should keep the cheese in the bottom compartment of the refrigerator to prevent it from absorbing odors from the other foods in the fridge. You can even store cheese in a root cellar if you are lucky enough to have one.

The best temperature for the cheese should be between 35F to 45F (2C to 7C). Under stable temperature, Parmesan cheese will remain fresh for a whole year or longer. Always make sure the cheese is wrapped tightly after use. For great results, put the cheese in a freezer bag and fasten the seal before refrigerating.

For grated and shredded Parmesan, you will find refrigerated and unrefrigerated types. You can store them the same way they were stored in the supermarket. Once you open either variety, you should refrigerate it. When scooping your cheese, use clean utensils to avoid microbial contamination.

Freezing Your Parmesan Cheese

You can freeze a block of Parmesan for a while, as long as you wrap it well in a freezer bag or other freezer-safe container, like these found on Amazon. However, sometimes freezing may not be necessary since parmesan cheese has a longer shelf life.

If you must freeze it, you should know that its quality may decrease. Its original flavor and texture may be lost during thawing. Frozen Parmesan works best in cooking recipes such as casseroles, soups, and sauces.

Also, note that frozen cheese can be sticky and may give you a hard time when you want to scoop a few spoonfuls for your casserole topping. To avoid this, you can portion them into freezer bags and thaw in the fridge. It will also be easier to transfer them into your dish.

Grated or shredded Parmesan can be frozen too. When storing, ensure the cheese is protected from any cold air. Thawing should be done in the fridge overnight. If you want to use your shredded or grated cheese, you should prep it before freezing. Otherwise, you might have a hard time grating or shredding it after thawing.

Closeup of grated aged parmesan falling from spoon

The Shelf Life of Parmesan Cheese

  • Unopened Parmesan will stay fresh for about 7 to 9 months. Labels come with ‘best by’ and ‘use by’ dates. Parmesan as a hard cheese can last a few more weeks past the recommended dates.
  • When you open your parmesan package, you should consume it within 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Refrigerated grated or shredded Parmesan can stay fresh one week after its ‘use by’ date. Their quality degrades faster than other cheeses.
  • When opened, use your shredded or grated cheese within 5 to 7 days.
  • Unrefrigerated Parmesan can last for about a year or more. It will come with a ‘best by’ date and still be consumed a month past that date. Since it is dehydrated, the cheese can resist bacteria growth.
  • If unrefrigerated Parmesan is opened, it should be stored in the fridge, and it will take several months before it goes bad. Always check the labels to confirm.

Pro tip: You should always let your cheese come to room temperature before eating. This will restore its original flavor and melt your palette.

Signs that Your Parmesan Cheese is Spoiled

Whenever your Parmesan cheese goes bad, mold spots will appear around it. For Parmesan and other hard cheeses, parts with mold spots can be removed, and the rest stored for consumption. Check your Parmesan for a change in flavor too.

If the cheese is grated, it will change color and smell. Usually, grated Parmesan looks white to beige. Spoiled Parmesan will have a different color and a funny or pungent smell. It will appear yellowish or dark beige.

Spoiled shredded Parmesan will change its texture. It will feel wet or spongy to the touch and produce a funny smell as well. This will be the right time to discard it.

When both shredded and grated parmesan show signs of mold, you should throw them out immediately.

What Can Happen if You Accidentally Ate Moldy Cheese

As said before, Parmesan is a hard type of cheese, and mold cannot penetrate through. What you will do if your cheese is moldy is to cut off the moldy part and use the rest.

Ensure you cut about one inch below and around the mold, and keep the knife far from the contaminated spots. Store the remainder of the cheese in a new container or wrap. You cannot risk ingesting bacteria. If you’re in doubt, you should just discard the whole chunk.

If you accidentally eat or inhale the mold, you may experience respiratory problems and allergic reactions. In the worst-case scenario, you may consume a mold that produces mycotoxin, a poisonous substance that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, internal bleeding, and much more.

Mold can sometimes have bacteria that cause food poisoning.

However, not every mold is harmful, but do not take any chances, especially if your immune system is compromised. Inspect your grated or shredded parmesan cheese thoroughly, and if you find mold on it, throw it away.

Final Thoughts

Parmesan Cheese is made from skimmed cow’s milk and used for grating. It is popularly known for its sharp flavor and granular texture. Although we see big chunks of dry, hard Parmesan cheese on store counters, it is imperative to know the best way to store it and keep it fresh always.

When storing your parmesan cheese in the refrigerator, make sure you place it in the crisper compartment, far from the refrigeration vents, which can dry it out. This will keep it fresh and extend its shelf life.

Authentic Parmesan cheese has a rich flavor, thick texture and can melt well and blend with other ingredients. It adds character and depth to pasta dishes and salads. If you are a cheese lover, then you are going to enjoy your stash of unrivaled parmesan cheese.

  • Always refrigerate your Parmesan cheese.
  • Use the right paper, such as aluminum foil, wax paper, or a zipper-lock bag, to wrap it up.
  • If your Parmesan cheese turns moldy, cut off the moldy part and store the rest in a fresh container before refrigerating.

Thanks for stoppin’ by.

Here are a couple of storage items I mentioned in the article that you may want to invest in to keep your Parmesan cheese fresh for longer.

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