If you cook a lot of cheese-based recipes but don’t always want to go to the trouble of preparing dishes with real cheese, you’re probably familiar with velveeta cheese.
Velveeta cheese is a type of processed cheese that’s easier to work with than many other kinds of regular cheese, so it’s a really popular addition to dishes such as the classic mac and cheese.
However, while many people know that cheese goes bad over time and understand how to tell if this is the case, Velveeta cheese is a bit more of a mystery in that regard.
Here’s everything you need to know about whether Velveeta cheese can go bad, how to tell if your Velveeta is past its best, and the proper way to store Velveeta cheese long-term.
What Is Velveeta Cheese?
If you’re not familiar with velveeta cheese, you may be surprised to hear that it’s not actually real cheese at all.
Velveeta cheese is technically described as a pasteurized, processed cheese product. It’s made to look like cheese and taste like the real thing (there is a Swiss cheese variety and an American cheese version), but it’s no longer actually made with real cheese although it used to be in the past.
Nowadays, velveeta cheese is made from milk, whey, canola oil, modified starch, cheese culture, and milk proteins.
How Long Does Velveeta Cheese Stay Good?
Velveeta cheese will keep in the refrigerator until its expiration date, of course, but did you know that it can actually remain good to eat until about 6 months after its expiration date?
The reason why velveeta cheese is able to stay suitable for consumption so long past its expiration date is because it contains so many preservatives in addition to being a processed food.
The processing and the preservatives prevent bacteria from growing as quickly on the product, so unlike fresh produce, it can last for a surprisingly long time.
The 6-month rule is conditional on not opening the packaging, however. If you have opened your velveeta cheese, you only have about 8 weeks (2 months) before it will start to spoil, at which point, you’ll want to throw it out because it will smell and taste off and might not agree with your digestive system.
It’s also important to bear in mind that the 8-week expiration rule for opened velveeta cheese may vary depending on how close the expiration date on the packaging is when you open the product.
For example, if you open the velveeta a couple of days before the packaging says it’s due to expire, you may not have much time before it starts to smell and taste past its best.
The best thing to do if you have velveeta cheese in your refrigerator that is past its stated expiration date, whether it’s opened or unopened, is to check for spoilage before you use it in your food. We’ll discuss how to do this in the next section.
How To Tell If Velveeta Cheese Has Spoiled
The best way to tell if velveeta cheese has spoiled is, first of all, simply to look at its color and feel the texture.
Velveeta cheese that is fresh and suitable for consumption should have a fairly bright yellow color and it should feel soft and malleable to the touch.
If your Velveeta cheese has changed in color or if it feels stiff or hard, you should probably throw it away, particularly if the expiration date has already been and gone.
With that being said, if only certain areas of the cheese feel hard and it’s still within the expiration date, it could just be that the Velveeta has dried out slightly due to being opened.
If that’s the case, you can just cut off the dried parts and use the rest.
Assuming that the Velveeta still looks and feels the way it’s supposed to, we recommend also giving it a quick sniff test. Like many other kinds of cheese, you can usually tell if Velveeta has spoiled by its smell.
It can be difficult to assess if Velveeta has spoiled by the smell if you’re not used to cooking with it, but while Velveeta cheese should have a cheese-like odor, it shouldn’t be overly pungent or offensive.
If your Velveeta smells really bad, you should probably throw it away. The same goes for if it doesn’t taste right.
The Best Way To Store Velveeta Cheese
You actually don’t need to refrigerate Velveeta cheese until the package has been opened. It will keep just fine in the pantry until you open it, after which point, you should make sure to transfer it to the refrigerator.
However, make sure not to explore your unopened Velveeta cheese to any sources of heat. If you heat up the Velveeta, it can spoil even before you’ve opened it or before the expiry date.
Again, once the packaging has been opened, you should keep the Velveeta in the refrigerator, and try to make sure that it’s wrapped well so the air can’t get to the cheese and cause it to dry out.
If the original packaging is torn, transfer the Velveeta to a freezer bag.
Refrigerating opened velveeta in airtight wrapping is the best way to ensure that it stays fresh and safe to eat for as long as possible.
Velveeta cheese can and does go bad, but it keeps for longer than real cheese because it contains preservatives and is a processed food.
Unopened Velveeta should be okay for up to 6 months after the expiry date, but opened Velveeta should be used within 8 weeks.
If the expiry date on your Velveeta packaging has passed, whether it’s been opened or not, make sure to check the texture, color, and smell of the cheese before you use it to make sure it hasn’t spoiled.
Unopened Velveeta can be stored in the pantry, but once it’s opened, it must be stored in the refrigerator in airtight wrapping.
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