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Apr 17, 2014 08:09 PM

Pimento Cheese: Unrefrigerated

Pimento cheese sandwiches are a staple of church potlucks in the humid South, but in the urban Northeast, they're still a curiosity in the church refectory.

I'm bringing a pimento cheese ball shaped like a baby chick for our parish's Easter Vigil gathering, which means food will sit in a slightly cold (55-65 degrees depending on whether the doors are open) church hall for about 10 hours. Will pimento cheese made with Duke's hold up that long even if covered in cling film? Would substituting some cream cheese for the mayo lengthen its keeping time as some have suggested?

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  1. When serving food to others, I feel a lot more hesitant to take food safety risks. If it were me, this is one I probably wouldn't take, as lovely as it sounds.

    1. How about putting the plate holding the cheese ball on ice?

      1. Mayo is stable at room temperature. It is a myth that is dangerous, if un refridgerated. Cheese is also stable at room temp. I can't see why (when mixed together) it would become a problem. Most of the food safety bacteria growth issue is from people double dipping or being unsanitary.

        1. Cheese should not sit at room temp for 10 hours. Rule of thumb is keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Bacteria grow fastest between 40 and 140 degrees. The issue isn't cream cheese vs. mayo, it's the time it spends in the danger zone. Whoever is planning this gathering should provide a way to keep foods at their safe holding temp. Otherwise serve cookies.

          1 Reply
          1. re: elegraph


            Growing up we always stored our hoop cheese on the counter under a dome of glass. As a matter of fact, that's how we bought it too...usually in a gas station, sitting under a dome of glass. It was never refrigerated.

          2. I would eat your pimento cheese with great gusto and no fear of ptomaine. You might want to add some lemon juice just to drop the pH a little more, but I think your pimento cheese sounds great.