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How To Store Parmesan Cheese For Maximum Freshness

Parmesan cheese against dark background
Parmesan cheese against dark background - sweet marshmallow/Shutterstock

If you've ever dreamt of a server sprinkling Parmesan atop your pasta dish, letting them add more and more until you're swimming in a giant pool of it, then you're probably a fan of the fragrant cheese. You also probably have Parmesan sitting in your refrigerator right now and may be curious about the best way to store it and how long it lasts. Good news, cheese lover! Parmesan is an aged, hard cheese with little moisture, meaning it has a longer shelf life than something soft like burrata. Still, you have to treat it right if you want it to stick around. Always wrap it tightly and refrigerate it (even if you didn't buy it that way).

Believe it or not, a whole slab of unopened Parmesan will last as long as nine months in your fridge. Once opened, though, that life span shrinks to no more than two months. Opened grated Parmesan has a much shorter shelf life of anywhere between one week and one month. In all cases, the cheese should be properly sealed and kept cold for it to last as long as possible.

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How To Store Shredded Parmesan

Shredded Parmesan on wooden board
Shredded Parmesan on wooden board - Veni Vidi...shoot/Getty Images

Shredded or grated Parmesan is great for ease of use. If you purchased packaged shredded Parmesan, it might only remain fresh for five days once opened. Hand-grated Parmesan can last for up to a week. No matter which you're storing, grated parmesan should always be sealed in an airtight container and refrigerated.

Parmesan should be kept in a place where it won't absorb the scent of other foods. If you have room in the bottom of your refrigerator, this is a great spot. Also, if you ever leave the cheese at room temperature, don't let it sit unrefrigerated for more than two hours. This leaves the cheese in the USDA's dangerous temperature zone for too long, meaning it's more prone to bacterial growth.

If you have an unopened package of Parmesan, you won't have to worry about it absorbing other scents because it's fully sealed, but it should still be constantly refrigerated. In terms of shelf life, it's best to refer to the "best by" date on the package, but you can likely use the cheese for at least a week past that date. Check for signs of spoilage like mold, an off-smell, or any color change. If the cheese appears more yellow than usual, it might have gone bad.

How To Store A Block Of Parmesan Cheese

Close-up of grated Parmesan
Close-up of grated Parmesan - HandmadePictures/Shutterstock

Since Parmesan is a hard cheese, time is on your side. Because it contains little moisture and hasn't been exposed to air, a block of unopened Parmesan in airtight packaging lasts between six and nine months if it's refrigerated constantly. If using the cheese after six months, check for signs of spoilage before eating it.

If the block of Parmesan cheese has been opened, it will be good for up to eight weeks. Make sure to seal it as tightly as possible when storing it in the fridge. Wax paper is best because it allows the cheese to maintain its moisture without making it sweat, making it a better option than something like plastic wrap. Seal it even more by fully covering it with a layer of aluminum foil over the wax paper, and store it away from other foods.

Both shredded and block Parmesan can be stored in the freezer. Surprisingly, though, the shelf life of unopened block Parmesan is about the same in the fridge as in the freezer. The USDA recommends no more than six months in the freezer for hard cheeses.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.