As a result of miscalculation, you’ve bought way more mozzarella than you need for pizza night.
What to do with the rest?
Does mozzarella cheese go bad?
Ultimately, any dairy product has to go bad. But when that will happen depends on many factors, including the type of mozzarella and storage options.
In this article, we’ll go over all you need to know about this cheese and its shelf life.
So let’s dive straight in!
How Long Does Mozzarella Last
The “original” version of mozzarella is a fresh cheese, and as such, it can’t stay fresh for very long.
Like other perishable foods, Mozzarella features a “best by” date on the label. This date is a good indicator of how much time you have to eat the entire thing.
Best case scenario, unopened fresh mozzarella can last you about a week past the date on the label.
Once you open the packaging, the quality of fresh mozzarella quickly deteriorates. If you keep it in brine or water, it will stay good for about a week or so. But if you remove it from the liquid and wrap it in plastic film, mozzarella will last you only a few days.
With such a short shelf life, buying tons of fresh mozzarella doesn’t make much sense. But what you can stock up on is low-moisture versions, which stay fresh for much longer.
|Fresh (unopened)||Up to 2 hours||Best by + up to a week||Up to a year|
|Fresh (opened)||Up to 2 hours||5 to 7 days||Up to a year|
|Block (unopened)||Up to 2 hours||Best by + 3 to 4 weeks||Up to a year|
|Block (opened)||Up to 2 hours||A few weeks||Up to a year|
|Grated (unopened)||Up to 2 hours||3 to 6 months||Up to a year|
|Grated (opened)||Up to 2 hours||Up to 5 days||Up to a year|
|Freeze dried (unopened)||Up to 2 hours||~25 years||Up to a year|
|Freeze dried (opened)||Up to 2 hours||Up to a year||Up to a year|
First, we have mozzarella in a block. The exact shelf life varies from brand to brand, but it’s about 6 to 7 months in most cases. Once opened, the mozzarella block will last for a few weeks before turning bad.
But if you don’t open the packaging before the date on the label, you can expect it to stay good for another month or so after the “best by” date.
Low-moisture mozzarella is also sold as grated. Remember that pre-grated cheese won’t last as long as a block because there’s more of the surface exposed to air.
Still, most pre-grated mozzarella products have a shelf life of 3 to 6 months. That is, given they’re unopened. Once you pop the packaging open, you should eat mozzarella within 5 days.
Finally, freeze dried mozzarella is also worth mentioning. As the name suggests, this is a dehydrated type of mozzarella and can last a very long time.
In fact, the freeze drying process allows this product to sit in your pantry for as much as 25 years while sealed. Once you open the packaging and let some air and moisture in, mozzarella can stay fresh for anywhere between 6 months and a year.
Other types should always be kept in the fridge aside from freeze-dried mozzarella, which can be kept at room temperature. Whether they’re opened or not, it doesn’t matter.
Cheese, as well as other dairy products, shouldn’t be kept outside the fridge for more than 2 hours.
Harmful bacteria grow quickly at temperatures ranging between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. By the time 2 hours pass by, mozzarella could already be contaminated.
When it comes to freezing, that’s a good way to extend the shelf life of mozzarella cheese even further. Stored that way, you can preserve mozzarella for about a year longer.
How To Tell If Mozzarella Cheese Is Bad
Deciphering if mozzarella has gone bad is rather easy. Starting with the smell, mozzarella has a pleasantly mild and slightly acidic odor. But if your product seems to be acidic, that’s probably a sign to throw it away.
As for the color, mozzarella has a natural cream to ivory color, depending on what cows were eating in a specific region. As it goes bad, the cheese will slowly turn a darker shade. At some point, mold can form on the surface.
While you can cut away the moldy part on hard cheeses, that’s not the case with mozzarella.
Bacteria can easily travel through the soft texture of mozzarella cheese – contaminating the entire thing. That’s why you should always throw it away at the first sign of a mold speck appearing.
Mold will inevitably appear if you don’t keep your fresh mozzarella submerged in the brine. And even if these parts of the cheese don’t get spoiled, they’ll dry out without liquid.
Even though eating dry mozzarella isn’t dangerous to your health, it’s not tasty either. You might still use it for cooking, but the texture is just not good enough to enjoy as a snack.
How To Store Mozzarella Cheese
Since it’s a dairy product, mozzarella should always be kept in the fridge. The only exception is the freeze dried kind that can be stored at temperatures ranging from 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is given it’s unopened, of course. Once you open the packaging, freeze dried mozzarella should also be kept in a fridge.
When it comes to fresh mozzarella, always make sure that liquid is covering the entire surface of the cheese. If for some reason you’re short on the original brine, don’t worry. You can easily make your own.
But before you do, check if the mozzarella you’ve bought is kept in brine or just regular water. You don’t want to change the preserving medium, as you might destroy the flavor of mozzarella.
The only time you don’t want fresh mozzarella submerged is when you’re freezing it. Because it has such a high moisture content, fresh mozzarella can easily turn mushy and watery after thawing.
In order to try to avoid that, you should always remove all the excess water from the product. Then cut it into thinner slices and store in a releasable bag. Before sealing, make sure to take all the air out.
Low-moisture mozzarella types are much better at freezing, and you won’t have to worry about the change in texture. The only thing you need to make sure of is that the container or bag you’re using is tightly sealed.
Never let cheese thaw at room temperature, as it can grow harmful bacteria within a few hours. Instead, leave it in the fridge to defrost overnight. Or if you’re using mozzarella for cooking, you can put a whole frozen block inside the pan.
Mozzarella cheese is not one of those things that can sit in your fridge for too long.
This is particularly true for fresh mozzarella, which should be consumed within a few days. Low-moisture kinds, on the other hand, can stay fresh for a few weeks.
Like most dairy products, mozzarella needs to be refrigerated at all times. If kept at room temperature, it can quickly become a hospitable environment for bacteria to grow.