How Long Cottage Cheese Will Stay Fresh After Opening

If you're a fan of cheese, you probably know how long most wedges or wheels can stay in the fridge, and how to tell when they're no longer safe to eat. However, when it comes to a soft, fresh version like cottage cheese, it can be trickier to determine when it's time for it to be tossed. You can refer to the sell-by date if it's unopened, but the real question is: How long does cottage cheese last after opening?

Some suggest that opened cottage cheese will last up to ten days, but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that it can be safely stored for up to one week. Keeping your cheese as fresh as possible for longer depends on proper storage and handling. Always keep cottage cheese in the fridge in an airtight container, and if you suspect that your cottage cheese is no longer fresh, look for some telltale signs. 

First, pop open your cottage cheese container and take a look. If you find a watery concoction with whey and curds that are separated, not uniform, the cheese's freshness has dramatically declined. Depending on how many days it has been in the fridge, it may still be edible, but its texture will be less appealing. Of course, if you spot mold, it's definitely time to introduce your cheese to the trash can. Unlike with hard cheeses, you can't simply remove the mold, and you certainly don't want the consequences of eating it.

Other signs of spoilage and tips for storing

Outside of visual cues, there are a couple of other ways to determine if your cottage cheese is okay to eat. Firstly, use your sense of smell — if your once-mild cottage cheese is now sporting a sour smell, you're better off not eating it. The same is true for the flavor. If you decide to take a bite and your taste buds are assaulted with a sour taste, instead of the fresh cheese's more mild tanginess, it's past its prime.

Of course, all foods are freshest as soon as they're opened, but there are some ways to improve the chances of your cottage cheese staying fresh. As we said, cottage cheese must always be stored in the refrigerator. To be sure that it remains at a stable temperature, avoid storing it in the door of the fridge, which is usually the warmest area and subject to temperature fluctuations every time you open or close it. Instead, opt for a consistently cold spot (though not so cold that the cheese risks freezing). Also, keep the cheese sealed in the container it came in, or in another airtight container.

Finally, if you want to take an extra step to slow down spoilage, try storing the container of cheese upside down. Doing so lessens the potential for air to get into the container, reducing the chance of mold forming on the surface of the cottage cheese.