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Doesn't cheese need to be refrigerated?

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Why does Whole Foods put cheese on display where it isn't refrigerated? How long can cheese be kept out?

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  1. Optimal cheese storage temperature is actually over 50 degrees but less than 60. Cheese people will usually tell you to keep it in the warmest part of the fridge (or ideally in a wine fridge), so refrigeration is not necessary.

    1. Hard cheese are fine at room (closer to cave) temp. I doubt WF is leaving mascarpone out all day. More likely the aged Goudas and parmesans, no?

      1. It depends on the cheese. Hard ripened cheeses can be kept at room temperature indefinitely. Soft ripened cheeses are a bit more delicate, but that's more of a quality issue than a safety issue. Fresh cheeses should be refrigerated.

        Since cheese should be eaten at room temperature, I often leave mine out on the counter for days.

        1. Hard cheeses have been made for centuries - well before the invention of refrigeration. They mature without a fridge for months/years before going on sale.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Harters

            Exactly. To preserve dairy Products before refrigeration.

          2. As cheese is sort of controlled spoilage, no refrigeration allows the cheese to age more quickly. My apt in Paris has a cheese ager outside the bathroom window with screening to prevent varmints but allow the cheese to age and be ready at anytime, works like a charm
            That said, l was involved in opening the cheese dept at three W(t)F and never saw cheese not refrigerated unless an employee was selling something as a special and was right by the product.
            Those cases while sometimes open still have a pretty good chill on them and if a wrapped and priced aged gouda in the vegetable dept is what of which you are speaking, they are rotated and reefered at nights.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Taking your two points, Dcm - no fridge at home, but fridge at the supermarket, is it then reasonable to conclude that supermarkets fridge their hard cheese as a way of extending the shelf life of the product, rather than as a food safety issue?

              1. re: Harters

                Absof&%inglutely, but our government also thinks product should be refeered in the store so it 'helps' stores in keeping their stuff cold by either fining the store or chucking the item.
                A small cheese store l worked in had the occasional enforcement person state that all cheese must be in reefer regardless of what it was and the keeping of wheels of Parm Reg above the counter as 'display' was not permitted.

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  My local cheese shop keeps hard cheeses (like cheddar) on the shelves and soft ones in the fridge. Gives me confidence that they know what they are doing.

                  I take a similar view about cheese in restaurants. If it's out on display in the restaurant, I'm likely to order. If not, then it's almost certain that it'll still be in fridge when my order would go in, so I don't order.

                  It's about proper care and understanding of your product.

              2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                Interesting. The Whole Foods stores in my region have wheels of parmesan and cut and wrap pieces displayed away from refrigeration.

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  Indeed -- in the winter months, it wasn't unusual for me to keep my cheese on a platter in the cellar...and in January, I still had to remember to bring it up early so it had time to come to temperature.