Should Cheese Be Served At Room Temperature?

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You are hosting a dinner party or social hour and want to make sure your snacks will satisfy your guests. You have heard conflicting stories about cheese and refrigeration. Serving cheese at room temperature is one topic that we’ve looked into. We have also answered questions about cheese, food safety, and how to have the best cheese samples for your guests.

All types of cheese should be served at room temperature for the best taste and texture. The room temperature for cheese is between 67 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. When the cheese is too cold, the flavor becomes compromised. When cheese is too warm, the texture is not ideal. 

Now that you know cheese should be served at room temperature, you probably have more questions. You are curious about the safety of leaving cheese unrefrigerated over the course of a four-hour dinner party. There are safety concerns with the storage and consumption of cheese, but the answers vary based on the kind of cheese. This post will break down the key differences between types of cheese and safety considerations. Keep reading to learn more.

Assorted cheeses (such as ementhal, blue cheese, pecorino, parmesan and manchego among others) served with bread, grapes, black olives and a glass of red wine on a wooden table, Should Cheese Be Served At Room Temperature?

Should Cheese Be Served At Room Temperature?

Cheese should be served at room temperature, which is ideally between 67 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool temperatures can compromise the flavors that our taste buds can detect. Human beings can also detect a wider range of smells when food is at room temperature. While we think of taste buds as solely responsible for taste, our smell receptors are intimately connected to how we taste food.

How Long Should Cheese Sit Out Before Serving?

Cheese should be pulled from the refrigerator an hour to an hour and a half before serving. This is the only way for a block of cheese to reach ambient temperature throughout.

When you pull the cheese from the refrigerator, it is important to keep it covered. Cheese exposed to open air will start to dehydrate at the edges, making it hard and not an ideal texture for your guests to bite into.

Brie cheese with nuts, pear slices and dried apricots

How Long Can You Leave Cheese Out At Room Temperature?

When talking about food safety, the type of cheese makes a difference. Softer cheeses like brie and gorgonzola should only be left out for a maximum of four hours before returning to the refrigerator. These cheeses have higher moisture content, which is more likely to grow harmful bacteria if left out for longer than four hours.

Harder cheeses like parmesan and cheddar don’t need refrigeration, according to the USDA. These cheeses won’t attract harmful bacteria because of the lower moisture content.

Refrigeration is used to preserve the cheese for a longer period of time. Leaving cheese exposed to open air will cause the texture to harden and may not be very appetizing to consume after this deterioration has occurred. It is a good idea to cover the cheese to protect the quality, but there is no safety concern that requires refrigeration of hard cheese.

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Should You Eat Cheese Straight From The Fridge?

Cheese that is served between temperatures of 67 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit will provide the best eating experience for you and your guests. This temperature will give you the best texture for cheese as well as flavor.

We can detect a wider range of tastes and smells when food is served at room temperature. Storing cheese in the fridge will permanently change the taste and texture of the cheese, but it will still improve by serving the cheese at room temperature.

While preparing for your dinner party, you might have other serving questions. For more information about serving cheese to guests, check out this article: Should You Peel Brie Cheese?

What Kind Of Cheese Doesn’t Need To Be Refrigerated?

The kinds of cheese that can survive for long periods without refrigeration contain less relative moisture. This includes aged cheeses like Gouda and Parmigiano Reggiano. There are also drier, aged goat cheese types, including Charollais and Chevrot.

Some other dry, firm cheese types that are good for room temperature storage are Swiss, cheddar, and parmesan. Any cheese that is aged or dried is likely to be fine outside of the refrigerator.

What Kind Of Cheese Needs To Be Refrigerated?

All soft cheeses like Brie, cottage cheese, and Gorgonzola should be refrigerated. They contain more moisture and are more likely to attract and grow harmful bacteria.

Cheese that contains more moisture will have butter sweat when left at room temperature for longer periods of time. When the cheese sweats, then the flavor of the cheese suffers from the loss of buttery fat. Any soft or high moisture cheese that sweats should be stored in the refrigerator and brought to room temperature for serving.

Assorted cheese on wooden platter, rich and healthy breakfast or snack food

Why Don’t All Cheeses Need Refrigeration?

Cheese was first invented or discovered over 3,000 years ago as a method to preserve milk that would otherwise spoil. The modern age of refrigeration started just over one century ago in 1913.

When milk curdles, people generally think of it as spoiled. The cheesemaking process requires curdling milk on purpose and creating cheese that can be preserved and consumed for a longer period of time.

Where Should I Put Cheese In The Refrigerator?

Storing cheese in your refrigerator will give you the longest lifespan, but you want to make sure you also have the most flavorful cheese when you decide to consume it. Refrigeration can negatively impact the cheese’s flavor, so it is best to store cheese in the warmest part of the fridge. The crisper drawers are warmer than other shelf space in the refrigerator.

When you put cheese in the refrigerator, the crisper drawer is the best place. If you decide to store some of your hard and dry cheeses at room temperature, you should find a cool, dark place. The best temperature to eat the cheese still falls into the range of 67 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure your cheese is not exposed to open-air or extreme temperatures, including cold or hot.

Is Shredded Cheese Still Good If Left Out Overnight?

The kind of shredded cheese, the amount of air exposure, and the ambient room temperature are all factors to answer this question. Shredded cheese is likely to spoil faster than blocks of cheese because there is more surface area for bacteria to grow.

It is possible that you can eat the shredded cheese without any negative consequences, but it is still a risk to eat shredded cheese that has been left out overnight. A hot, humid climate and home atmosphere will be more likely to cause the cheese to spoil than a cooler, drier climate.

How Should Cheese Be Stored?

Cheeses with grapes and pouring wine, a side view on a dark background with copy space, Should You Wrap Cheese In Foil Or Cling Film?

All soft cheese should be stored in the refrigerator for safety reasons and to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Harder cheeses with low moisture content can be stored at room temperature but will have a longer life span if stored in the fridge. Cheese needs oxygen but without being exposed to open air.

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Open-air causes cheese to harden, so it should be covered. You should not cover the cheese with plastic wrap because this does not allow the cheese to breathe. When storing cheese with plastic wrap, you may end up with cheese that has an ammonia smell and/or plastic flavor.

It is best to wrap cheese with wax paper. Make sure no part of the cheese is exposed to open air on the counter or in the refrigerator.

What Do You Serve With Cheese Boards?

When planning your party or social gathering, you can include more than just cheese on your serving platter. Cheeseboards are great for serving any kind of food, including meat, nuts, crackers, vegetables, and more. Check out this post to get a detailed breakdown of all the food you may wish to serve to your guests on a cheeseboard: What Do You Serve With Cheese Boards?

In Closing

Assorted cheeses (such as ementhal, blue cheese, pecorino, parmesan and manchego among others) served with bread, grapes, black olives and a glass of red wine on a wooden table, Should Cheese Be Served At Room Temperature?

Texture and taste are the two most important factors when eating anything. In order to have the best taste and texture for cheese, you should allow the cheese to reach room temperature before serving. This provides your taste buds and smell receptors with the most flavorful experience when consuming the cheese. You will need to pull the cheese out of the refrigerator one hour before serving to get the best results.

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