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how long can cheese be unrefrigerated

how long can cheese be unrefrigerated

how long can cheese be unrefrigerated

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Cheese

Cheese is a dairy product produced in wide ranges of flavors, textures and forms by coagulation of the milk protein casein. It comprises proteins and fat from milk, usually the milk of cows, buffalo, goats, or sheep. During production, the milk is usually acidified and the enzymes of either rennet or bacterial enzymes with similar activity are added to cause the casein to coagulate. The solid curds are then separated from the liquid whey and pressed into finished cheese. Some cheeses have aromatic molds on the rind, the outer layer, or throughout.

Over a thousand types of cheese exist and are currently produced in various countries. Their styles, textures and flavors depend on the origin of the milk (including the animal’s diet), whether they have been pasteurized, the butterfat content, the bacteria and mold, the processing, and how long they have been aged for. Herbs, spices, or wood smoke may be used as flavoring agents. The yellow to red color of many cheeses is produced by adding annatto. Other ingredients may be added to some cheeses, such as black pepper, garic, chives or cranberries. A cheesemonger, or specialist seller of cheeses, may have expertise with selecting the cheeses, purchasing, receiving, storing and ripening them.

Adding acids

For a few cheeses, the milk is curdled by adding acids such as vinegar or lemon juice. Most cheeses are acidified to a lesser degree by bacteria, which turn milk sugars into lactic acid, then the addition of rennet completes the curdling. Vegetarian alternatives to rennet are available; most are produced by fermentation of the fungus Mucor miehei, but others have been extracted from various species of the Cynara thistle family. Cheesemakers near a dairy region may benefit from fresher, lower-priced milk, and lower shipping costs.

how long can cheese be unrefrigerated
how long can cheese be unrefrigerated

Cheese is valued for its portability, long shelf life, and high content of fat, protein, calcium, and phosphorus. Cheese is more compact and has a longer shelf life than milk, although how long a cheese will keep depends on the type of cheese. Hard cheeses, such as Parmesan, last longer than soft cheeses, such as Brie or goat’s milk cheese. The long storage life of some cheeses, especially when encased in a protective rind, allows selling when markets are favorable. Vacuum packaging of block-shaped cheeses and gas-flushing of plastic bags with mixtures of carbon dioxide and nitrogen are used for storage and mass distribution of cheeses in the 21st century.

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Etymology

The word cheese comes from Latin caseus, from which the modern word casein is also derived. The earliest source is from the proto-Indo-European root *kwat-, which means “to ferment, become sour”. That gave rise to cīese or cēse (in Old English) and chese (in Middle English). Similar words are shared by other West Germanic languages—West Frisian tsiis, Dutch kaas, German Käse, Old High German chāsi—all from the reconstructed West-Germanic form *kāsī, which in turn is an early borrowing from Latin.

The Online Etymological Dictionary states that “cheese” comes from “Old English cyse (West Saxon), cese (Anglian)…from West Germanic *kasjus (source also of Old Saxon kasi, Old High German chasi, German Käse, Middle Dutch case, Dutch kaas), from Latin caseus [for] “cheese” (source of Italian cacio, Spanish queso, Irish caise, Welsh caws).” The Online Etymological Dictionary states that the word is of “unknown origin; perhaps from a PIE root *kwat- “to ferment, become sour” (source also of Prakrit chasi “buttermilk;” Old Church Slavonic kvasu “leaven; fermented drink,” kyselu “sour,” -kyseti “to turn sour;” Czech kysati “to turn sour, rot;” Sanskrit kvathati “boils, seethes;” Gothic hwaþjan “foam”). Also compare fromage. Old Norse ostr, Danish ost, Swedish ost are related to Latin ius “broth, sauce, juice.'”

Romans

When the Romans began to make hard cheeses for their legionaries’ supplies, a new word started to be used: formaticum, from caseus formatus, or “molded cheese” (as in “formed”, not “moldy”). It is from this word that the French fromage, standard Italian formaggio, Catalan formatge, Breton fourmaj, and Occitan fromatge (or formatge) are derived. Of the Romance languages, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Tuscan and Southern Italian dialects use words derived from caseus (quesoqueijocaș and caso for example). The word cheese itself is occasionally employed in a sense that means “molded” or “formed”. Head cheese uses the word in this sense. The term “cheese” is also used as a noun, verb and adjective in a number of figurative expressions (e.g., “the big cheese”, “to be cheesed off” and “cheesy lyrics”).

How Long Can Cheese Be Out of the Fridge?

Maybe you hosted a nice little soirée with your friends and drank too much wine, or maybe you fell asleep on the couch while working on your night cheese. Either way, you’ve gotten up this morning and found a block of cheese sitting on your kitchen table, and now you’re wondering, “Is this cheese still safe to eat? How long can cheese stay fresh unrefrigerated, and will I get sick if I eat cheese that’s been left out overnight?” Unrefrigerated cheese happens to the best of us, and the good news is that though you should store cheese in your fridge, you’ll probably be able to still enjoy cheese that’s been left out overnight.

how long can cheese be unrefrigerated
how long can cheese be unrefrigerated

“Leaving cheese out overnight may impact the quality of the product, but would not—in most cases—result in a food safety issue,” explains Adam Brock, director of technical services at Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. If anything, there’s a good chance you’re over-refrigerating your cheese. “All cheeses, besides fresh cheese, should be served at room temperature for optimum flavor,” says Brock. Fresh cheeses include burrata or fresh mozzarella, and they should be chilled until ready to serve. But soft cheeses like Brie or Camembert will both taste stronger and be easier to spread if given a chance to come to room temperature, and firmer cheeses will be easier to cut.

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Safety problems

All you need to do to is take your cheese out of the fridge about an hour before you plan on serving it or using it. Though it’s unlikely you’ll face food safety issues if you leave cheese at room temperature for too long, for best quality, you should return it to the fridge after about two hours.

If you’re still squeamish about leaving cheese out at room temperature, or eating cheese that’s been left out overnight, stick with hard cheeses. “Cheeses that have been aged a bit longer, such as Parmesan, will be better able to maintain their unique flavor [and] functionality characteristics and are less of a food safety risk even when held outside of ideal conditions,” notes Brock.

Soft cheeses, on the other hand, hold more moisture and so are friendlier to bacterial growth. (Sound gross, sure. But remember that soft, ripened cheeses are made with the help of bacteria.) So if you’re being extra cautious, follow the USDA guidelines that recommend you toss perishable foods, including soft cheese, that have been left out at room temperature for longer than two hours. But as Brock notes, “There is always the potential risk of pathogens or mold, but the risk is minimal with most cheese that are manufactured under safe conditions.” If you see mold on soft cheese, however, throw it out immediately.

4 hours

Soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert, can sit out at room temperature for up to 4 hours, according to the food safety specialists at Clemson University’s Cooperative Extension. Soft cheeses have a relatively high moisture content, which in turn encourages bacterial growth, so leftovers should be refrigerated as soon as possible.

Hard cheeses like cheddar and Parmesan, can sit out longer —up to 8 hours at room temperature— due to their lower moisture content. That said, your cheese may start to dry out and otherwise go downhill in appearance after four or five hours of sitting out at room temperature. So from a quality point of view, it’s a good idea to put any leftover cheese back in the fridge as soon as you’re finished eating it.

Cheeses That Are More Perishable

Cheeses that contain more moisture and/or are not ripened (aged) are more perishable. These include soft unripened cheeses, such as cottage and cream cheese as well as fresh soft cheeses (Queso Fresco), and soft ripened cheeses like Brie, Camembert and fresh mozzarella.

According to Sarah Hill, Manager of Cheese Education and Training for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, cheese can be left at room temperature for up to two hours, as can all perishable foods. However, leftover unrefrigerated cheese should be handled differently, depending on the type. For example, she says, “If the cheese tray is out for two hours, soft, fresh cheeses (such as Queso Fresco, Brie, Camembert) should be discarded. But hard cheeses (such as Cheddar, Swiss, Gouda, Parmesan) can be wrapped well and refrigerated to use again. If the cheese has dried out, it can be wrapped in foil and put in the freezer to be used later in a cheesy recipe.”

how long can cheese be unrefrigerated
how long can cheese be unrefrigerated

Decorate

Now that you learned how long can each cheese sit out. You are able to carefully select your cheese varieties for your cheese board. No buffet table is complete without a cheese board, garnished with fresh or dried fruits, nuts and/or chutney.

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