Does Cottage Cheese Go Bad?

Love cottage cheese? Cottage cheese is the chunky byproduct of animal milk that’s been processed to make butter. Essentially, cottage cheese is fresh cheese curd. It has a mild slightly salty flavor and a creamy texture. Cottage cheese can be enjoyed on its own or as filling, dips, and as an ingredient in recipes. Does cottage cheese go bad?

Cottage cheese is minimally processed; it is not aged, preserved, or colored in any way so it will go bad quickly. Unlike some dairy products, cottage cheese is not shelf stable. Usually, cottage cheese is stored in the grocery chiller, not the shelf. This is a strong indication that the cheese has a short shelf life. It’s also worth noting that this product has a high moisture content, which makes it susceptible to mold growth.

Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Verch

Cottage cheese’s shelf life is so short; it should not be eaten past its best-before-date. Some cottage cheese products come with a sell-by date or expiration date. Keep these dates in mind, especially if you are buying cottage cheese in bulk. You only have days before the product expires.

How to Store Cottage Cheese?

Storing Cottage Cheese in the Refrigerator

This is the best way to store cottage cheese. But even when the product is completely sealed and/or unopened, cottage cheese will only keep for a week or two. There is no need to prep the cottage cheese for refrigeration. This goes for both unopened and opened containers of cottage cheese. Just store the cheese in the coldest spot in the fridge. If the container has been opened, keep it sealed after every use to minimize the risk of mold growth.

Storing Cottage Cheese in the Freezer

Yes, you can store cottage cheese in the freezer but only when you cannot finish your supply right away. Freezing the cottage cheese could alter its texture. The cheese may turn somewhat grainy or crumbly after it’s been frozen and thawed. That’s why we recommend this method only for short-term storage.

Cottage cheese is usually sold in sealed plastic tubs. Although the material of the container is freezer-friendly, we still recommend transferring the product in an airtight container. Cottage cheese is high in moisture so it will expand in the freezer as it freezes. The original packaging could burst in the freezer unless the cheese was given enough room to expand. On the other hand, if the cheese has been partially consumed, it’s okay to use the original packaging as long as you keep it sealed at all times.

Image used under Creative Commons from Meal Makeover Moms

Shelf Life of Cottage Cheese

When kept in the refrigerator, opened and unopened containers of cottage cheese will only keep for 7 to 10 days. When stored in the freezer, it will maintain its freshness for 3 months. The cheese is still safe to eat after 3 months in the freezer but there will be noticeable changes in its texture and flavor. Once thawed, defrosted cottage cheese will only keep for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Do not refreeze the leftovers.

Cottage cheese must never be kept at room temperature. Leaving it sitting on the counter for as little as two hours will quickly shorten its shelf life or cause the cheese to go bad altogether. There is no real way of extending the shelf life of cottage cheese especially when it is kept in the fridge. Our advice is to choose the product with the longest expiry date while grocery shopping.

How to Tell if Cottage Cheese Has Gone Bad?

Just like any type of dairy product, cottage cheese will develop a sour taste once it’s spoiled. As it spoils, cottage cheese will start producing more liquids. The milk solids will also separate from the liquids. If the cottage cheese has developed a yellow tint or it starts giving off an odd aroma, discard the product. If you are seeing the presence of mold, throw the cottage cheese in the trash.

Summary

Does cottage cheese go bad? Cottage cheese is the kind of product that you shouldn’t buy in bulk. It will only keep for a week or so. Proper storage is a must to retain the quality and flavor of cottage cheese!