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Jun 10, 2010 11:26 AM

What kinds of cheeses do not require refrigeration?

On a layover in Amsterdam a few years ago, I toured a Gouda cheese factory. The cheesemaker told us authentic Gouda should not be refrigerated. I bought some to take home with me and never refrigerated it, and it was great.

I am wondering if there other cheeses that don't need to be or shouldn't be refrigerated? I'm trying to make a gift basket and I want to include some cheese, but it cannot be perishable. Aside from Gouda, what are my options?

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  1. Young ripened cheeses, e.g. brie and camembert, are good for a week without refrigeration before they "ammoniate". Also, hard aged cheeses like romano may sweat a little at room temp, but will keep for quite a while.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Veggo

      And I can testify the "quite a while" part, by adding that I survived for a few months a while back, on a diet of mostly cheese and other non-perishables, all stored at room temperature. Some of the hard cheeses (I think maybe especially the sheep and goat ones) do sweat, but everything was fine, with the big pieces lasting the several weeks until they were all consumed. The young ripened cheeses sit at room temperature quite well until opened, and YMMV depending on how ripe you like them.

    2. I reckon most hard cheese should be fine for a good while. They can be maturing for several months in just cool, not refrigerated conditions - inherently they were intended as a way of using up milk in a way that could be preserved.

      1. I would agree that whole Brie and Camembert type cheeses will be OK unrefrigerated, but would not recommend cut pieces be left unrefrigerated for too long. Any aged cheese, cut or whole, will keep safely for quite a while unrefrigerated. You do not say if this gift basket will be shipped or merely transported for a day by you. If you're shipping, keep in mind that boxes might sit in a hot truck for hours. If that is the case, there are some cheeses with a wax coating that would not be ruined, such as Grafton Village cheddars from Vermont, Baybel young goudas or even something like Gjetost which is often taken on ski trips. If you're only transporting the basket yourself, any cheese should be fine, and will be the perfect temperature for eating immediately when it arrives.

        1. Good advice. Generally, the more aged the cheese, the longer it will last at room temperature. HOWEVER, as others have noted, "room temperature" does not mean on the counter of an unairconditioned kitchen on a hot day. Cheeses are best kept in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. Also, they'll keep better at room temperature if they are loosely wrapped in paper, not shrink wrapped in plastic which keeps them from breathing and allows moisture to collect between the surface of the cheese and the plastic.

          I was digging around my desk drawer and found a little jar with some grated parmesan in it -- it's been there for at least a couple of years and although it's gotten darker in color and stronger in aroma and flavor, it's not spoiled.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            This is a good reminder of the difference in climate between coastal western/southern Europe and Anglo-North America....

            1. re: Karl S

              Yes, sort of like remembering that when they say red wine should be served at room temperature, they really mean "cellar temperature" which is much colder than the rooms in most American houses.

          2. Thanks everyone. No, the basket wont be shipped; I will be delivering it myself. However, it WILL be in a fairly warm place for a few hours. I think I will be pretty safe if I try to keep it as cool as possible.

            1 Reply
            1. re: zainab13

              It'll be fine. I've bought cheeses in Northern France and it's then been over 24 hours before we got home. Car was a little stinky at the end but the cheese was delish (was quite warm weather)