How Does Cream Cheese Go Bad & Ways to Prevent It

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Last Updated on December 16, 2023

Cream cheese goes bad like all dairy products. Brown color, sour taste & molds indicate the rotting of cream cheese.        

bagels with lox and cream cheese

Cream cheese is a popular ingredient for household breakfasts. Some even consider it as a staple item for breakfast. However, like all other dairy products, cream cheese eventually goes bad.

There can be a pack or two of cream cheese in your refrigerator & you might not know when you bought it. But now you are wondering if it’s still edible as it passed the sell-by date. Again, you may have a half-opened cheese left in your refrigerator & you are confused if it’s still good. 

If these questions puzzle you, then this article is for you to clear all the confusion.

Can Cream Cheese Get Spoiled?

The simple answer to the question is Yes! Being a dairy product, cream cheese eventually perishes. However, there are a couple of factors that determine how long your cream cheese will last. 

Usually, a container of cream cheese lasts for a couple of months. It depends on how you are storing & handling it. 

Dairy Products Freezing

Most dairy products have lower longevity. That said, dairy products, such as yogurts, milk, cream cheese, etc. don’t last long like normal goods or dry foods. Dairy products get spoiled quickly because of the moisture content.

These moistures attract bacteria, mold & as a result, they decay faster than you think. However, if you take proper shelving or freezing methods, you can significantly increase their longevity.

Things To Consider When Freezing Cream Cheese

The most common question about cream cheese is can you freeze cream cheese. There are mixed conceptions about freezing cream cheese. Some people advise keeping cream cheese in the refrigerator, while others are entirely against it. 

The reasons are inconclusive & debatable. However, some factors play a crucial role in freezing cream cheese. Keep in mind that all dairy products become crumbly & thawed upon freezing. Don’t be afraid. You can still use it. 

All you need to do is stir with a spoon or an electric beater. You can also use the blender to beat it. However, the texture won’t be like before after such processing. If your purpose is stirring the cream cheese with other ingredients, this crumbly nature won’t matter. 

But if you plan to use it as a spread, for example, on a sandwich, then the taste may not be the same. Another factor worth remembering is that the quality, initial consistency & ingredients determine how the cream cheese will look after thawing. 

The best option is to use small ice cubes or muffin tins if you need a small amount of cream cheese. Keep your cream cheese fresh to make delicious, savory dishes.

Properly Storing Cream Cheese

Most people don’t follow the correct process of storing cream cheese properly. Resulting in spoilage of cream cheese long before the expiry date.

As a dairy product, you need to store cream cheese in the refrigerator. If you haven’t opened up the packet, you don’t need to be concerned about it going bad. Just keep it at one corner in the refrigerator

However, if you have opened it & thinking of not using it soon, we suggest you cover it well.

For covering, use the packet. But if the package is not reusable, use a freezer bag. Thus, you can prevent micro bacterial contamination & prolong its longevity. Commonly, you may not have a freezer bag.

In that case, take a plastic wrap & cover the lid well with a rubber band. You can also use aluminum foil to store the cream cheese. For leftovers, it’s better to use an airtight container to store cream cheese. 

If you want to use cream cheese as a spread, use clean cutlery & scoop once. Always avoid double-dipping. Otherwise, cream cheese will become watery on the surface & expedite decomposition.

The Longevity Of Cream Cheese

All cream cheese comes with an expiry date. Cream cheese usually lasts long past its sell-by dates. However, sometimes it is unpredictable to find out the expiry date & will rot long before the date.

Again, sometimes it can last more than a month from its sell-by date. The reason behind this unpredictable longevity is the mishandling of nature while finding its way into the refrigerator.

Usually, the unopened cream cheese lasts three to four weeks more after the expiry date. If you have opened the pack, you should be able to use it for up to 8-10 days before it goes bad. 

Signs of Cream Cheese Spoilage

Cream cheese, being a dairy product, eventually gets spoiled. The harder cream cheese lasts longer than its counterparts. The prime reason for the spoilage of cream cheese is moisture content. Moistures expedite bacterial growth & contamination.

There are several ways to identify if your cream cheese is rotting. These are:

1. Mold Accumulation

Molds are the common enemies of cheese.  For a hard cheese, you can simply cut the mold portion, separate it and it is good for consumption.  But with cream cheese, you can’t use it once molds accumulate on it.

Cream cheese is tender & soft. Because of that, the toxins from the molds seep through the cheese & contaminate it. Therefore, it can’t be consumed after contamination. You will see signs of mold attacks when it turns greenish & yellowish in color after the contamination. Get rid of it whenever you notice such discolorations.

2. Cracked Texture

Another telling of cream cheese going bad is the cracked surface & separation by two parts. Usually, fresh cream cheese is even & smooth in texture. Once it gets close to the expiry date, it dries out & forms cracks. 

You will notice the cream cheese separating into two parts & water accumulating around the cracked area. That’s a clear sign to get rid of it.

However, sometimes you may notice water on top of the surface. Don’t worry, it’s a normal separation effect & it is harmless to consume such cream cheese.

3. Bad Odor & Sour Taste

Sniffing is the best way to judge a cream cheese. Sometimes you may not get a bad smell by sniffing. In that case, taste a bit before using. If the taste is sour, throw it away. 

Final Thoughts

Better use the cream cheese before the expiry date to be safe. Also, look for the signs of spoilage before consuming. Lastly, store properly to impede spoilage.

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