How Long Does Blue Cheese Last and How To Tell If It’s Bad?

You have a question or two about storage, shelf life, or going bad of blue cheese. Maybe you need to know how long does blue cheese last, or how to tell if yours is bad or not.

Sounds familiar?

This guide covers everything you need to know about handling blue (or “bleu”, if you want to sound fancy) cheese at home. These recommendations work just as well for known blue cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Roquefort, or Stilton, as for a generic “Bleu cheese” you buy in the grocery store.

Besides that, I also included a section about blue cheese dressing and a short FAQ section that answers a couple of extra questions you might have.

Looking for specific info? Use these shortcuts:

Blue cheese in hand
Blue cheese in hand

How Long Does Blue Cheese Last

Unopened blue cheese comes with a shelf life of a month up to 6 months depending on its packaging, and it usually retains quality for at least a couple of extra weeks.

Once you open the package or start the wedge, finish the cheese within 3 to 4 weeks. The same applies if you buy yours fresh from the wheel.

That’s the gist of it. Let’s talk about the details.

That shelf life of 1 to 6 months is so broad because of the packaging options. If yours comes wrapped in cheese paper and inside a carton package (similar to brie), it most likely has a short shelf life. But if it’s sealed airtight like the one I bought, it’ll stay good for much longer.

Fortunately, the wrapped wedge you buy in your grocery store usually comes with a sell-by date, which is a pretty good starting point. Of course, the cheese should still be pretty good for a week or maybe two after that date, but don’t expect miracles.

Tip

Sometimes the label says you should eat your blue cheese within a few days of opening. If that’s the case, try to finish it within that period (plus maybe a couple of days), or freeze the leftover blue cheese.

Blue cheese sliced
Blue cheese sliced

When it comes to crumbled blue cheese, it typically has a pretty long shelf life, up to half a year.

Generally, as long as the package remains unopened, it should retain freshness until the date on the label, and maybe up to 2 to 3 weeks more.

Once you open up the container, you should finish blue cheese crumbles within about a week for best results, a few days more if you’re okay with not-so-great blue cheese.

 Fridge
Blue cheese wedge (unopened)Sell-by + 1 – 2 weeks
Blue cheese wedge (opened)2 – 4 weeks
Blue cheese crumbled (unopened)Sell-by + 2 – 3 weeks
Blue cheese crumbled (opened)1 week
Please note the periods above are estimates only.
Blue cheese on bread
Blue cheese on bread

Does Blue Cheese Go Bad? How To Tell If Blue Cheese Is Bad?

Signs that your blue cheese is bad include:

  • Presence of fuzzy mold. Blue mold native to blue cheese isn’t fuzzy, as you can tell from my photos. But if there are some patches of grey or black mold that’s fuzzy, discard the cheese.
  • Altered color of the flesh. Normally the flesh is white or creamy. If it turns pink, green, brown, or yellow, it’s time to throw out the product.
  • The ammonia-like smell gets strong. Blue cheese has a distinct smell, and people often say it smells like old socks (that’s not a coincidence). But if that odor becomes strong, or much stronger than it was when you first bought it, or the cheese smells stale, it’s gone.
  • Looks “old.” If yours looks as if it sat in the fridge for months, it’s dry, crumbly, and uneven in color, it’s past its prime.
Old blue cheese: drying top and discolored mold
Old blue cheese: drying top and grayish discolored mold
Warning

For some blue cheeses, a pink hue around the rind is natural and safe to eat. When in doubt, check the label or manufacturer’s website.
Also, if your blue is in an airtight package, some excess moisture inside is okay, and nothing to worry about.

If your blue cheese looks and smells okay, it should be safe to eat. Feel free to give it a taste, and decide based on that if it’s good enough to eat.

Remember that blue cheese is salty from the get-go, but it becomes even more biting with age. In other words, it’s expected to become more salty over time. If it’s too salty for your liking, discard it.

Blue cheese sandwiches
Blue cheese sandwiches

How To Store Blue Cheese

Store blue cheese in the fridge. Make sure it’s wrapped well so that it doesn’t dry out, but also give it some breathing room.

The best temperature for blue cheese is the temperature similar to in which it matured. That means it’s somewhere between 46°F – 55°F (or 8°C – 13°C).

The temperature in a typical fridge is usually a bit lower, so putting the cheese in the crisper drawer helps.

Warning

Keep blue cheese away from other cheeses (and food in general) if possible, so the spores of mold from your blue cheese won’t contaminate them.

Leftover blue cheese in a container
Leftover blue cheese in a container, will start to dry out after a day or so without a wrap

When it comes to packaging, there are a couple of options.

If you’ve bought the cheese pre-packed, you can continue using the wrap it came in after opening the package.

If you’re getting a fresh cut from the wheel, or you need to repackage blue cheese, wrap it with cheese paper, wax paper, or parchment paper, and then place it in a freezer bag. Again, don’t wrap it too tightly, so it can breathe.

Don’t have any of the above on hand? A plastic bag or an airtight container are okay options. Not ideal, but they’ll get the job done.

Note

As you can tell, these recommendations are quite similar to how you store brie cheese.

When it comes to crumbled blue cheese, proper storage of it is plain and simple. Just keep it in the fridge, and once you opened the package, make sure to seal it tightly before putting back into storage. That’s it.

Breakfast with bread and blue cheese
Breakfast with bread and blue cheese

Blue Cheese Dressing

Commercial Blue Cheese Dressing

Store-bought blue cheese dressing usually comes with a shelf life of 9 to 12 months, and easily keeps for an extra month or so.

Opening the bottle doesn’t affect the storage time that much – the dressing easily lasts for months, assuming that you refrigerate it. Of course, a freshly opened blue cheese dressing will be a bit tastier than one that’s open for the last three months, but that difference won’t be that big.

That prolonged storage after opening might remind you of mustard or ketchup.

Warning

These recommendations work for most blue cheese dressings out there, like the popular one sold by Kraft. But that doesn’t mean all of them are this way. Always check the label to ensure you can store yours for more than a week after opening.

Blue cheese up close
Blue cheese up close, looks perfectly fine

Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

When it comes to homemade blue cheese dressing, it lasts for 5 to 7 days, depending on the recipe.

Read what the recipe author says about storage, but if she or he says it stays good for more than a week, I’d take that with a grain of salt. For safety, assume that it’s only good for about a week, and go with that.

How To Tell If Blue Cheese Dressing Is Bad?

If your homemade blue cheese dressing is older than 10 days, or your store-bought one is more than 1 – 2 months past its best-by date, discard it. It’s not necessarily spoiled by that point, but keeping it around forever because it “seems okay” isn’t a good idea either.

Now it’s time to give it a quick check. You have to rely on your sight, smell, and taste buds here.

First, take the top off the bottle and take a look inside. Then look for mold or any discolorations, both on the surface and the neck.

Next, give it a good whiff. If the dressing smells “funny” or foul, get rid of it.

Last but not least, give a small amount a taste. If everything seems okay, it should be safe to eat.

FAQs about Blue Cheese

Does blue cheese have mold? Is that mold safe to eat?

Yes, blue cheese is made with cultures of the mold Penicillium, and it’s perfectly safe to eat.

Usually, when we see mold, we throw out the product immediately. However, in the case of blue cheese, it’s exactly what we want to see and what this cheese is all about.

How does blue cheese look like?

The most important visual feature of blue cheese is blue spots or veins of mold. That mold isn’t fuzzy, and the color varies a bit and can go from blue-grey to blue-green.

The cheese that you can see in my photos has blue spots everywhere. In other blue cheeses (e.g., Gorgonzola), you might notice blue veins instead of spots, and that’s fine too.

How long can blue cheese sit out?

You shouldn’t let your blue cheese sit out for more than two hours. That’s the guideline for all perishable foods.

While some hard cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino will probably be fine after those two hours, it’s not as certain for a semi-soft cheese such as blue cheese. And definitely no good for a soft cheese such as cream cheese.

My advice? If you left it unopened on the counter for 2 to 3 hours and it’s not the middle of a hot summer, it’ll probably (do it at your own risk) be fine. But if it sat on a cheese platter for the whole birthday party, its place is in the trash can.

Sources

Want to learn more about cheese in general?

Check out our guide: