Are you wondering whether you need to throw out the string cheese you left on the counter overnight? Or how to tell if the string cheese has gone bad?
Since cheese sticks are a favorite snack for many people in the USA, these are some of the most commonly asked questions.
Thankfully, there are ways to ensure that the string cheese stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible.
We have summarized the most important facts about the shelf life, best storage practices, and the signs that it has gone bad.
What is the Best Way to Store String Cheese?
String cheese which is dehydrated mozzarella should be stored just like any other dairy product – in the refrigerator.
Once you open a package of mozzarella sticks, you need to make sure that you seal the package tightly before placing it in the fridge. If your string cheese does not come in a resealable pack or is not packaged individually, then you should place it in a freezer bag or an airtight container. When placing the leftover string cheese in a Ziploc bag, try to get as much air out of the bag before sealing it.
This will prolong its longevity, keep it nice, and fresh, and prevent it from drying and absorbing the odors from the other products in the refrigerator.
When you add a cheese stick to your kid’s lunch box, it is recommended that you put it in an individual container or bag, unless it is single wrapped.
The mozzarella sticks will absorb moisture from other moist foods, such tomatoes, in the lunchbox where they are placed, and after a few hours, they will taste pretty unpleasant.
You may safely freeze extra cheese sticks if you have a surplus. Even months after being kept and thoroughly thawed, mozzarella sticks retain their excellent flavor. This is due to the dehydration of the cheese, which prevents water from freezing and tainting the cheese’s flavor and texture.
Purchasing string cheese sticks that are individually wrapped is the best option for freezing. By doing this, you won’t need to wrap them yourself.
Unwrapped string cheese should be placed in a freezer bag or securely wrapped in aluminum foil if it will be frozen. Place the bag in the freezer after labeling it. It will be safe to eat for another two to three months.
When it is time to consume the frozen cheese sticks, let them thaw in the fridge for 4-5 hours.
How Long Can You Leave String Cheese Out of the Refrigerator?
As with other dairy products, aim to reduce the time the cheese sticks are left at room temperature to a maximum of two hours.
Since mozzarella sticks are semi-soft, they will quickly begin to degrade when left at room temperature. As a result, they will begin changing in taste and texture.
But if you are worried about your child eating the string cheese in its lunch box after hours of school, make sure that the cheese is properly wrapped and away from moist products, and it should be ok for consumption even after 4-5 hours out of the refrigerator.
If your kid comes back with the mozzarella sticks still in the lunch box, use the cheese immediately or discard it depending on the temperatures outside and how the cheese looks and smells. Our advice is not to return it back to the fridge or leave it for the next day.
Overall, we recommend using common sense when deciding what to do with string cheese which has been left out for longer than 4-5 hours.
How Long Does String Cheese Last?
String Cheese has a relatively long shelf life as compared to other soft cheeses. Check the label on the package for the use-by, sell-by, or best-by date.
In general, the shelf life of cheese sticks is at least 6-8 weeks. This is the time during which it remains at its best quality and taste when it has not been unsealed. After the best-by date, the string cheese will remain safe to eat for another 2-3 weeks if stored properly.
But once you open a package of mozzarella sticks that are not individually wrapped, it is recommended that you finish them in the next 7 days.
If the cheese sticks are wrapped individually, then you can consider their shelf life to be as long as the one of an unopened package.
Overall, the shelf-life of string cheese is longer than that of many other dairy-based products. It is a dehydrated mozzarella product and, as such, can be stored for longer. But this is true, only if you store it properly, as described above.
The shelf life of cheese sticks can vary depending on the food product’s quality, brand, and packaging.
Summary of the shelf life of string cheese:
Unopened cheese sticks or individually wrapped ones – 2-3 weeks after the best-by date when stored in the fridge
Opened cheese sticks – up to 7 days when stored in the fridge (for the non-individually wrapped ones)
Unopened or wrapped cheese strings – up to 3-4 months in the freezer
Signs That the String Cheese Has Gone Bad
If you suspect that the string cheese may have gone bad, make sure you check it for tell-tale signs of spoilage or mold.
Inspect the cheese for any changes in color, mold, dark bluish-green specks, and others. If you see this, then you should throw it out.
Smell the cheese. If it smells odd or bad, then it has probably gone rancid, and you should discard it immediately.
You can taste a small portion of the string cheese if it looks and smells ok. If it has a strange texture or an off or sour taste, then you should throw it away.
In case the string cheese has been exposed to air for a very long time, its texture will become dry and crumbly.
In any case, if the cheese has been in the fridge for way too long after it was opened or is showing signs of mold, drying, and spoilage, then to stay on the safe side – toss it in the garbage.