Quick Answer: Cottage cheese can last for around 5 to 10 days after its ‘best by’ date, but this can change due to factors such as how you have stored it, and how it has been previously handled.
In this quick guide we shall take a look at how long unopened cottage cheese will last, and whether you can trust the sell by date due to various conditions.
So, let’s get to it!
How Long Does Cottage Cheese Actually Last For?
It happens: you are looking through your refrigerator when you notice a container of cottage cheese that hasn’t seen the outside of the fridge since it was brought home from the grocery store.
Whilst that is an exciting find, you may also realize that it is a few days past its ‘use by’ date, or it is close to it.
Maybe even that cottage cheese has been opened but was only used once.
Knowing how long cottage cheese may last can be tricky due to a number of different factors contributing to its freshness and ability to eat it.
For example, you will always find a date written on the packaging which either says ‘sell by’ or ‘best by’.
Both of these indicate that it should still retain some of its quality even after this date, meaning it is safe to eat.
However, it is also impossible to know how long for, so if the cottage cheese has passed this date, you will need to check the food yourself.
There are a number of things that can contribute to how long the cottage cheese will last for however, from where it was stored, whether it is already opened, and also how the package was handled whilst in the supermarket – but not by you.
How Long Does Open Cottage Cheese Last For?
If the cottage cheese has already been opened, then it will last for around 1 or 2 weeks.
You may see that the use by date is in around three weeks. Even so, you should take into account that it is now open, and it will lose its freshness quicker.
If you open it a couple of days before the use by date, stick to the above method.
Know that it will still last for around a week or two without spoiling. The use by or sell by date is there as a guidance on quality.
Don’t ignore it, but do keep in mind that the cottage cheese will be safe to eat a few weeks after the date if stored correctly and if unopened.
How To Store Cottage Cheese?
Taking care of the cottage cheese is paramount in making sure it lasts long enough to eat without turning bad.
The last thing you want is it to go bad before you have even opened it!
Luckily, it doesn’t take much to store cottage cheese well.
All you need to do is place it into the fridge as quickly as possible once you bring it home from the grocery store. However, do avoid putting it in or by the fridge door.
The temperature isn’t consistent here, so your cottage cheese will suffer in the long run.
The best place to put the cottage cheese is at the back of the fridge where it is coolest. Even better, on the lower shelf.
When you open the cottage cheese, always remove the foil and only use the plastic lid instead.
Lastly, make sure you only ever use something like a clean spoon to remove cottage cheese from the container.
You will want to avoid putting bacteria into the cheese.
How Do You Know If Cottage Cheese Has Turned Bad?
Because of all the factors listed above in this article, it can be difficult to know if cottage cheese has turned bad if it has never been opened.
You don’t need to go by the use by date, as it can stay edible even after this time has passed.
However, there are a few things to look for to make sure the cottage cheese is safe to eat. For example:
Taste And Smell
Sometimes you can’t always tell if food has turned rancid. When this is the case, you will want to give it a smell or a taste – maybe even both!
If it has a smell that isn’t familiar to cottage cheese, then it has probably gone bad.
If the taste is different too, maybe even more sour than usual, then throw it away. It is only a matter of time before mold starts to multiply.
Mold Has Appeared
If you can see a lovely blob of mold coating the cottage cheese, then throw it away.
Whilst you might think you can remove the mold and eat the rest, it isn’t wise to do so.
This is because mold can be hidden away inside the cottage cheese, and it can make you sick.
Instead, if you see mold coating any food, throw it away as it isn’t safe to eat.
Texted Has Changed
Sometimes the liquid will separate away from the cheese.
This isn’t something to be considered a natural occurrence where you just store it all together like a smoothie and that’s that. No, it means it is time to throw it away.
The cheese will be dry and chunky on top, and it means that it has a high chance of not being good to eat.
When Does Cottage Cheese Look Bad But Is It Fine To Eat?
There are many instances where people throw away cottage cheese that is perfectly fine to eat.
This means that they are throwing away food wastefully without realizing that they could be enjoying a delicious mouthful (or three) of cottage cheese.
Here are some of the things that do not mean cottage cheese has gone bad:
A Little Separation Has Happened
Whilst dry cottage cheese with a layer of liquid underneath is a bad, bad (got to be dramatic) sign, if there is a minor amount of separation and the cheese is moist, then all you will need to do is stir it to get it all mixed together again.
This is usually down to the cottage cheese being left static for days and the ingredients naturally separating.
Cottage Cheese Has A Yellowness to it
If the cottage cheese you have bought is all natural, then you will find it will have a yellow tone to it, rather than anything else.
This color can come from what the cow’s current diet is, to the season.
So, if the cottage cheese isn’t the usual bright white you are used to and instead is yellow, then it is perfectly fine to eat.
Consistency Has Changed Since Last Batch
Sometimes cottage cheese is made differently per batch, or per company, so you can’t always tell if the cheese is fine to eat by how it looks.
So, stick to the list above when it comes to what to look for when the cottage cheese goes bad.
However, if you are really unsure whether the cottage cheese you are eating is safe or not, always throw it away. It is better to avoid it than eat something you shouldn’t.
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