Can you even imagine a classic American burger without a slice of deli cheese inside? We know we can’t!
Some people say deli cheese is not real cheese. Some even go so far as to say they are not food at all. We are looking at you, Gordon Ramsay! Whatever it is, there are a few recipes that require you to use a slice of American deli cheese for the best flavor. It melts easily and adds a creamy texture to your savory dish.
One of our favorite mid-day work snacks is a homemade grilled cheese sandwich. It’s quick, easy, and delicious. Plus it’s super cheap too. No wonder you will always find deli cheese in student dorms. Nothing can beat the simplicity of it.
In this article, we will discuss what deli cheese actually is, how long does deli cheeses last, and the best way to store them. If any of these topics intrigue you, keep on reading!
Deli Cheese 101: What Exactly is It?
Yes, we get it, deli cheese is not exactly cheese. But it’s not “plastic” food either. Just like any other processed food, deli cheese is not known for its high quality. It’s great for adding texture to your burger or sandwich. But if deli cheese isn’t cheese, what is it?
To explain this, we need to understand how cheese is made. You add rennet or some type of enzyme to the milk to create curd. The curd is then separated from the water and pressed together. This is one of the easiest types of cheese.
Haloumi, mozzarella, and queso fresco are made by kneading and stretching the curd. Some other cheeses go through a much more detailed process. And this is just the soft cheeses. Hard cheese or aged cheese has a totally different process.
What we are trying to say is, there is no such thing as an unprocessed cheese. Cheese, by default, is a processed product. So is deli cheese.
But deli cheese is not made using traditional cheese-making methods. It starts off with real cheese though. But the whole thing is then blended into a paste and a lot of flavoring ingredients are added. This step is necessary to make it meltable. Otherwise, it would turn into a greasy mess when heated up.
You’d be surprised to know this process of creating American cheese actually originated in Switzerland. Their goal was to give the cheese longer shelf life. And thus deli cheese was born.
How Long is Deli Cheese Good for?
Deli cheese was specifically made to survive longer in our pantry. So you can’t compare this with normal soft cheeses.
Even though there are unsliced deli cheeses, we all end up picking sliced ones as they are the most convenient. Sliced deli cheese can be frozen to extend its shelf life.
You can maximize your deli cheese shelf life by keeping it unopened and in the refrigerator. Do not store your cheese anywhere else. High temperature is the main cause of spoiled cheese.
If you happen to open the package, use plastic wrap to tightly cover the cheese.
Deli cheese can last up to 4 weeks past its expiration date if you keep it properly stored. The sell-by date is a mere suggestion. Your cheese can go bad before the date too. It all depends on how you are storing your deli cheese.
What about Swiss Cheese: How Long Does It Last?
Swiss cheese is another staple in most of our households. If you keep your swiss cheese in the fridge, it can stay fresh for up to 3-4 weeks easily.
You can freeze your swiss cheese to extend its consumption time. Keeping swiss cheese in the fridge can keep it good for up to two months. The best temperature, however, for swiss cheese is 5°C and 10°C.
You can turn your swiss cheese into smoky cheese and make it taste much fancier. It tastes really good on sandwiches, trust us!
Is Your Deli Cheese Spoiled? Here’s How to Tell
Did you just find an unopened cheese pack in your fridge and don’t know if you should eat it? Well, you can figure out if it’s safe to eat or not by these easy steps:
- Smell your cheese. If it smells odd or funky then the cheese is probably past its time. Yes, cheese can have a strong funky smell in general but not deli cheese. Deli cheese smells creamy and almost sweet.
- Notice the color. Deli cheese is light yellow. If it turns orange for some reason then it’s not safe to eat anymore.
- If you notice any fungus or molds growing on the cheese then don’t eat it. Throw the whole thing out.
Frequently Asked Questions
01. Why is the Sliced Cheese in the Fridge All Moldy?
Any food with high moisture content is prone to mold if you expose it to oxygen. So if your sliced cheese in the fridge looks moldy, caches are you did not store them in an airtight container.
If you see molds on your cheese slices, please don’t eat them. Eating moldy cheese can cause stomach issues and heartburn.
02. Can You Store Cheese in the Freezer?
Depending on the type of cheese, you can store it in the freezer. But it’s better to use the quick freeze function for cheese and it retains the moisture level.
Frozen cheese can last up to 10 months without any issue. We recommend not eating past 8-10 months.
03. Can You Freeze Cheese Slices?
Yes, you can freeze cheese slices but only if you store them right. Cover your cheese slices in parchment paper and wrap the whole cheese block in a freezer bag.
Make sure each cheese slice is wrapped individually. Then use freezer paper to wrap the whole thing. Use a ziplock bag or an airtight container to store it.
04. How Do You Store Deli Cheese?
Deli cheeses are sliced cheese which means they go bad faster than other cheeses. As they are sliced, moisture does not stay for too long.
So if you want to keep your deli cheese fresher for longer, double wrap them with either parchment paper or plastic wrap. Then put the cheese in an airtight container. This way it can last for 3-4 weeks easily in the refrigerator.
05. What Happens if You Eat Old Deli Meat or Cheese?
You should never eat old cheese or meat no matter the circumstances. Fresh produce goes bad rapidly depending on the climate you live in and how you are storing them.
So eating old deli meat past its expiration date can cause severe food poisoning. You might suffer from fever, stomach ache, diarrhea, and vomiting. So it’s better to be safe than sorry.
06. What is the Difference between Deli Cheese and Packaged Cheese?
It might seem like the same thing but deli cheese and packaged cheese are quite different in terms of making and flavor.
The cheese we buy from the deli counter is a processed version of real cheese. It starts off as standard cheese and then preservatives and chemicals are added. This helps to extend their shelf life.
Packaged cheese on the other hand is a fully processed cheese. Some say they have less than 50% cheese in them. Packaged cheese contains more chemicals and extracts and food dye. This provides the familiar yellow color.
The convenience of deli cheese is how easy they are to store and how long they last in the fridge.
It’s nice to have a few packs in the kitchen to throw some into a quick breakfast or snacks. Add it to sandwiches, crackers, burritos, and even on instant ramen noodles to give that salty creaminess we all love. We advise refrigerating deli cheese to keep it fresh for longer.