How Long Does Cottage Cheese Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 7 days to 3 months

Cottage cheese is manufactured by a special process of curdling milk and removing the whey. The by-product -known as cheese curd- is used to make cottage cheese. It is often considered a super-food due to the high nutritional content of the product.

Cottage cheese is considered to be a top protein replacement in vegetarian diets. There are different varieties of cottage cheese sold in the market. Their difference is noted in terms of the percentage of fat present in each variant. Cottage cheese is also used in the preparation of a number of delicacies. It is also commonly consumed with fruits and vegetables.

How Long Does Cottage Cheese Last

Due to its high lactose content, cottage cheese must be consumed within the short span of the stipulated time highlighted on the pack. Owing to its severely restricted shelf life, cottage cheese must be kept in optimal temperature conditions to prevent it from going stale.

An unopened pack of cottage cheese has a relatively longer shelf life than an opened one. The sealed cottage cheese pack can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Much like other dairy products, cottage cheese containers also have a printed sell-by date. This date is indicative of the last date when the unopened product can be sold to a consumer. It is not equivalent to an expiration date. Thus, the unopened cottage cheese pack can be frozen for about 3 months from this stipulated date.

Alternatively, unsealing a cottage cheese container radically reduces the shelf life of its contents. Once the cottage cheese container is opened, the contents must be consumed within a span of 7-10 days. Moreover, it is essential to perpetually refrigerate the opened cottage cheese container to prevent fungal growth.

Unlike the sell-by date, this time frame is absolutely non-negotiable. The contamination process commences soon after the expiration of this window. The quality of the cottage cheese will start rapidly deteriorating after the end of this period.

However, some varieties of cottage cheeses have a longer shelf life. Flavored cottage cheeses have more added preservatives in their chemical composition. This helps boost the shelf life of these cheeses marginally after the pack is opened.

In Summary:

Condition of the ContainerShelf Life
Unopened Cottage Cheese Container3 months from the printed sell-by date
Opened Cottage Cheese Container7-10 days from opening the container

Why Does Cottage Cheese Last this Long?

Dairy products are extremely susceptible to microbial contaminations. Cottage cheese lasts up to 3 months in a freezer because the subzero temperatures of the environment help avoid any bacterial or fungal contaminations. The seal prevents the entry of microbes and secures the contents of the pack.

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Freezing the sealed pack for such prolonged periods of time may, however, affect the freshness of the cheese. The taste of the cottage cheese might be marginally hampered if it is consumed after a prolonged period of being frozen.

However, once the seal is broken, the process of contamination begins. Cottage cheese needs to be consumed within a short span of time after the seal is removed because soon the cheese will start losing its freshness and start developing a sour rind. Most cottage cheese containers are equipped with lids that allow the consumer to close the lid and refrigerate the pack. This helps maintain the edibility of the cheese for up to 10 days.

The constant freezing and thawing process initiates the formation of mold on the surface of the cheese. This will be accompanied by a repulsive sour smell. All these changes in the cheese are representative of microbial contamination. Consuming this contaminated cottage cheese can adversely affect the health of the individual.

If an opened pack of cottage cheese has been left out in the open for more than 2 hours, one must not consume it. This cheese has invariably become the breeding ground for a host of contagious fungal outgrowths and can be extremely poisonous when consumed.

Conclusion

The freshness of all dairy products is affected by the storing techniques implemented by an individual. Using astute and appropriate methods of storing these food items can help increase their longevity and preserve their freshness.

Although cottage cheese has an appetizing appeal, storing it proficiently is quite a difficult task, simply because of its limited shelf life, once the container is unsealed. An unopened pack of cottage cheese can last up to 3 months in the freezer. Although this method may alter its taste, the durability of the product is enhanced. Conversely, an opened pack has to be consumed within a week’s time to avoid possible contaminations and health hazards.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022030292780540
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643896901206

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