Shredded Cheese Left Out Overnight

Shredded Cheese Left Out Overnight: Safe to Eat?

How long can shredded cheese be left out? Cheese is a staple in many households, and if we are honest, many of us would like to retain its freshness for as long as possible. The thought of throwing a seemingly perfect cheese out of the fridge overnight does not sit well with us. But does that mean it is safe to eat or not?

We all want our cheese to last forever. If we are working with the history that cheese was invented 3000 years ago, which was way before the invention of the refrigerator, then we look forward to it lasting a long time. But, for the most part, it doesn’t. Shredded cheese sure makes cheese much easier and enjoyable. However, bad shredded cheese is something you do not want to consume.

Whether shredded cheese left out overnight is still safe to eat will depend on the grated cheese and your definition of overnight. It should be noted that once your shredded cheese is opened, it should be used within five days and can only last past that when kept in the fridge. Leaving shredded cheese overnight without refrigerating causes it to sweat due to the separation of liquid components, so you can expect it to become dark and crusty.

Not all cheese freezes well, and when it comes to shredded cheese, it lasts even less no matter the type of cheese used. Cheese making has been around for thousands of years and was used as a way to preserve milk before the invention of the refrigerator, but this does not mean they don’t go bad.

Leaving shredded cheese overnight unrefrigerated happens to the best of us. But the good news is that it just might still be safe to eat. Read on to learn if your shredded cheese is still safe or not. And also how to tell your shredded cheese has gone bad.

How Long Does Shredded Cheese Last?

Shredding your cheese makes it a lot easier and quicker to enjoy, but if it goes bad, it can give you all sorts of nasty digestive system issues when consumed. Hence, knowing how long your shredded cheese will last is important. Unopened shredded cheese will last at least a week or two past its expiry date, but after opening, it will only retain its quality for 3 to 5 days. It’s better to freeze shredded cheese to keep it longer.

Commercial shredded cheese on the other hand will last for at least a couple of weeks as long as it remains unopened. It will also pass the best-by date printed on it with an extra week or two. Note that cheeses that contain more moisture, and are not ripened (aged) are more perishable.

It is best that you consume your shredded cheese within 5 days after opening, as you don’t have much time before it loses its quality. Home shredded cheese also will last 3 to 5 days no matter the type of cheese used, or you can freeze the leftovers to keep it longer.

Store-bought shredded cheese (unopened)1 – 2 weeks
Store brought shredded cheese (unopened)3 -5 days
Homemade shredded cheese3 to 5 days
Commercially shredded It should last a couple more days from the expiry date.
Opened shredded cheeseIt should be consumed within 5 days
person grating cheese
Photo by Marina Utrabo on

Shredded Cheese Left Out Overnight: Safe to Eat or Not?

Leaving shredded cheese out overnight will cause it to sweat due to the separation from liquid components so while it won’t exactly go bad, it will dry out after leaving it out overnight. In some instances, it can become dark and crusty. Shredded cheese typically lasts 5 days after opening, but has to be refrigerated. Opened cheese should not be left more than 2 hours on the kitchen counter, anything longer then it would become unsafe.

Depending on your definition of overnight: Did you forget to toss it back into the fridge after making yourself a burrito at 3 a.m. or forgot to pack it into the fridge since late noon? The longer your shredded cheese has been out on the fridge, the higher its chances of losing flavor and becoming unsafe to consume.

Leaving cheese out overnight will impact its flavor, but in most cases, it would not result in a food safety issue. To be cautious, follow the USDA guidelines that recommend tossing out perishable foods, including soft cheese that has been left out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.

However, dry, hard, and less acidic cheeses like cheddar, dried mozzarella, and Parmesan will still be good to eat when left out overnight. Their counterpart on the other hand which is the unripened and moist ones such as brie, cottage, ricotta, and others might become less flavorsome.

For the best taste and quality, shredded cheese should not be left out for more than 2 hours.

According to Sarah Hill, a known Cheese Education and Training for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, cheese can be left out for 2 hours and can all perishable foods. The rule of thumb is to know how look your shredded cheese has been out of the fridge and check for signs of spoilage as well.

How to Tell if Shredded Cheese Is Bad

It is important to be able to tell if shredded cheese is bad or not, especially if you have left it out of the refrigerator overnight. Eating bad shredded cheese can be harmful to your digestive system.

So, how can you tell shredded cheese is bad? You can tell shredded cheese has gone bad when the color, smell, or consistency changes. If your shredded cheese tastes funny or there is the slightest change, it is best to throw it away.

Discard your shredded cheese if there is any of these signs:

  • Toss it out if an opened package lasts more than 5 to 6 days.
  • There are signs of mold.
  • The smell is off.
  • It feels wet or spongy.

Is Sweaty Shredded Cheese Bad?

Sweaty shredded cheese is not bad, but it will no longer look appetizing, and this happens when your cheese is exposed to heat.

Sweaty shredded cheese having been exposed to heat, the butterfat content has been separated from the solid components. It is a good idea to allow it to come to room temperature first, this should bring out the flavor.

Note that sweaty shredded cheese is not bad, but you will just not be experiencing the cheese at its peak texture and flavor. The cheese will also not be looking its best but not to worry, the liquid is just excess moisture and if it has not been sweating long, it should be fine. When it turns dark and crusty, it has been sweating for too long and has no flavor.

Wrapping Up

When you leave your cheese out overnight, you get a sweaty cheese, and surely it won’t be appealing or flavorsome anymore. While many people claim there are ways to salvage sweaty shredded cheese, you have to decide for yourself if the cheese is still safe to eat. With cheese, you have to rely on common sense, but when there are signs of mold, or it smells funny, you should definitely discard it.

Finally, shredded cheese is best stored in a container and placed in the fridge. You should also use it within 3 to 5 days. Shredded cheese loses its quality fast and overnight is a broad term. But with this knowledge—– you will have to decide for yourself whether to throw it out or not.

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