You’ve probably already heard of cream cheese, a versatile spread you can use for dips or baking! This type of cheese is ideal for a lot of things, and it’s a favorite in the household! But how long can cream cheese sit out? Cream cheese is meant to stay inside fridges, but what happens if you leave an opened package outside?
On average, all types of UNOPENED cream cheese would last for an average of THREE to FOUR weeks PAST the printed expiration date. That is if you left the cheese inside your fridge. For foil wrapped cream cheese, it can last for up to two months after the expiration date.
How can you prolong the cream cheese’s lifespan and know if it’s spoiled to consume?
A lot of questions but with different answers if you search online so that it can be a bit confusing! Read on as I answer all these issues and inform you of everything you need to know about cream cheese.
How Long Is Cream Cheese Good For?
I mentioned that cream cheese is made out of fresh milk fat. And milk expires quickly, lasting for only about a few days to a week when opened.
It makes many people question the lifespan of cream cheese and if it can last as long as other types of aged cheese.
Well, the answer is no. Since cream cheese is pasteurized from fresh milk, it’s got a shorter lifespan than other cheeses aged for months.
The expiration date of cream cheese will depend on how one stores it. But don’t fret, as it lasts longer than what most people expect!
For opened packages of cream cheese, it can last for up to two weeks past the expiration date when left in the fridge.
Can Cream Cheese Be Left Out?
But how long can cream cheese sit out? Meaning, what if you accidentally leave it out in the open, may it be on kitchen counters or other rooms besides our fridge?
Leaving it outside is when cream cheese spoils quickly. Again, it’s made out of fresh milk, so expect it to only last for two hours after being exposed to room temperature.
That’s why many restaurants with buffets have a two-hour rule. If the cream cheese sits for over that allotted time, it will need to be thrown away to avoid food poisoning.
[Related Article: 4 Best Substitutes For Edam Cheese For Any Occasion]
About Cream Cheese
What’s cream cheese in the first place? You may have probably had it on cheesecakes or spreads on your sandwiches. William Lawrence created this white cheese in 1872. It’s made out of milk fat, with a soft consistency making it easy to use for a lot of dishes.
Its texture is softer than hard cheeses but thicker than butter. When eaten, it’s got a combination of salty and sour taste. BUT, you can also choose different flavors for cream cheese spreads today!
A lot of people add this cream cheese for frostings, desserts, or even other savory treats. It’s a popular choice for bakers and cooks out there since there is a creamy consistency that’s easy to handle and you can find it in any supermarket.
Its tartness is great on cheesecake or frosting. You can also use cream cheese as a dip for various appetizers.
While you can purchase cream cheese from nine shops or supermarkets, you can also make cream cheese yourself and culture it at home.
In a nutshell, this type of cheese is one of the most popular types used in many dishes, made out of fresh milk. And since fresh milk fat does expire, does that mean cream cheese lasts for only a few days?
How To Tell If Cream Cheese is Bad?
Now that you know how long can cream cheese sit out for, how do you know if it looks rotten?
Here are the ways you’ll know cream cheese has gone bad:
- Looks: You’ll know if the cream cheese has gone bad the first time you look at it. If it has any signs of mold, then throw it out immediately. If not, you’ll see that there is a yellow or greenish color.
- Consistency: If the top of a cream cheese packaging seems slimy or too soft than what it usually should be, then it’s a sign that molds or bacteria have entered the cream cheese and you should throw it away.
- Smell: One of the surefire ways to know if cream cheese is spoiled is if you smelled it. If the odor is off or has a pungent, more sour smell, then it’s spoiled.
- Taste: If it looks and smells decent but has been left inside a fridge for over a month past its expiration date, then give it a taste. If it tastes fine, then you can still use it. If it tastes sourer than usual, then evaluate if you can still use it. BUT, if the taste is very off, throw it away.
How Long Can You Leave Cream Cheese At Room Temperature?
If there’s one thing to take note of, it’s that you should always discard spill dream cheese. If you consume it when it already feels or tastes expired, then you may end up getting food poisoning right after.
Make sure that you store cream cheese before the two-hour rule is up. If it has been over two hours, then it’s best to throw it away, regardless of what it looks or tastes like.
What Happens If You Eat Cream Cheese That Has Been Left Out?
You may need to monitor yourself closely for any symptoms after eating the cream cheese that has been left out. It will most probably be contaminated by harmful bacteria by now.
According to the CDC, you can get very sick from raw (unpasteurized) milk and products made with it including soft cheeses, ice cream, and yogurt.
If you notice any signs of food poisoning, visit your favorite doctor immediately!
How to Prolong Cream Cheese’s Life Span?
Fortunately, there are ways you can prolong cream cheese’s life and make it edible even past the expiration date. Here are some methods you can follow:
- Temperature: Do not leave cream cheese at room temperature for over two hours, as bacteria rapidly grows between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Put it inside your fridge or chiller as soon as you use it.
- Container: Use an airtight container or wrap the cream cheese in foil when storing it inside the fridge to avoid bacteria from coming into it.
- Using Utensils: When baking or spreading the cream cheese on bread, make sure that you use CLEAN utensils not touched by the mouth or other food, most especially raw meat.
- Purchasing Cream Cheese: If you plan on buying cream cheese from the supermarket, get it only after you have already finished getting other necessities. Check for the coolness of damage around the container before purchasing it.
[Related Article: Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese And Will It Affect The Taste?]
Does Cream Cheese Need To Be Refrigerated?
If you want to prolong the lifespan of cream cheese further, store it in the freezer.
Wrap the cream cheese in foil or plastic freezer wrap (or bag) to avoid the constancy from changing, then store it safely in your fridge
Consider storing in an airtight container if you are afraid of contamination from other raw meat in the fridge.
You might think that a lot of cheeses will have a very long lifespan since it ages, but you’ll need to make sure to consume certain types of cheeses before they start looking and tasting aged to avoid bacterial infection. Cream cheese is one of them!
I hope that this article answers your question, “How long can cream cheese sit out?” Now, you know when you should consume cream cheese and how you can extend its life.