Do Cheese Sticks Need To Be Refrigerated? (What If Unrefrigerated?)

Cheese sticks about to be refrigerated

Many dairy products need refrigeration for food safety reasons. However, hard cheeses like Cheddar and Parmesan hold up for weeks at room temperature. So the rules aren’t consistent, and you may wonder what to do with cheese sticks. Do cheese sticks need to be refrigerated?

Yes, you should refrigerate or freeze cheese sticks to prevent them from spoiling. Unopened cheese sticks are safe to consume till the expiry date when refrigerated. Once opened, refrigerate the excess and use it within a week. To store them for longer, you can freeze them in an airtight container.

Let’s now dig a bit deeper into this.

How Long Do Cheese Sticks Last?

Cheese sticks are made from different types of cheese. Since each type of cheese has different properties, their use-by-date would vary. Hard cheeses generally hold up longer than soft cheeses.

Nevertheless, the storage rules remain the same for most cheese sticks. You should always store them in a cool, refrigerated environment.

The only exception is if the surrounding or ambient temperature of the storage space is low and you keep them in an unopened, air-tight sealed package.

However, if the package isn’t sealed or the ambient temperature is above 80 degrees, it’s unsafe to leave the cheese sticks outside for too long.

They will harbor bacteria and spoil rapidly when left outside for more than two hours. The rate at which they spoil will further increase if the surrounding temperature is high.

Although cheese sticks may not show any evident signs of spoilage right away, they will still harbor bacteria that cause food poisoning.

When left outside for several hours, cheese sticks turn slimy and produce an unpleasant odor. They will deteriorate quickly and become very disgusting.

Hence, it’s ideal to store both opened and unopened cheese sticks in the refrigerator. This is particularly important in the case of cheese sticks that are made using soft and semi-soft cheese.

The information on the packaging will usually indicate the use-by date. Your cheese sticks will be safe for consumption until this date.

Depending on the type of cheese used to make the sticks, it may be a few weeks or even months. Most cheese sticks remain usable for 6 to 8 weeks when refrigerated.

Cheese sticks will last even longer in the freezer. However, it’s important to take proper measures while freezing them to ensure that they retain their original texture and taste.

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Do Cheese Sticks Go Bad If Not Refrigerated?

Most cheese sticks will go bad within hours of being left outside at room temperature. However, it depends on the variety of cheese used to make the cheese sticks.

Cheese sticks made from soft cheese spoil rapidly. They will spoil in just an hour or two of being left outside. It’s because soft cheese has a higher moisture content.

They quickly develop a slimy layer on their surface when left outside. They will also swell up and look bloated inside the packaging.

Semi-soft cheeses hold up for slightly longer when left outside. Nonetheless, bacteria will grow faster at room temperature than when you store them in the refrigerator.

Cheese sticks made with hard cheeses usually remain usable for several hours, even when left outside at room temperature.

If they come individually wrapped and sealed in an airtight package, they will hold up even longer. However, you should check the packaging to make sure that it’s safe to leave them outside.

When in doubt, always refrigerate the cheese sticks. If you accidentally leave it outside for too long and the packaging doesn’t mention if they’re safe to consume, toss it to avoid any risk.

Do Sealed Cheese Sticks Need To Be Refrigerated?

Sealed cheese sticks

Regardless of whether your cheese sticks come individually wrapped or packed together, it’s always best to refrigerate them.

Most varieties of string cheese will keep for at least six weeks in the fridge. However, they will spoil in a few hours if you leave them outside.

If you picked your cheese sticks from the refrigerator section, you should put them in the fridge as soon as you are home. The longer you leave them outside, the more likely they’re to spoil.

How Long Can Cheese Sticks Go Unrefrigerated?

Cheese sticks should always be refrigerated for longer shelf life. They rapidly deteriorate at room temperature. Leaving them outside for even a few hours will compromise food safety.

The rate at which cheese sticks spoil will depend on the type of cheese they’re made from. Soft and semi-soft cheeses deteriorate rapidly. If the environment is warm, they will spoil in less than two hours.

Hence, it’s always best to toss them out if they have been sitting on the counter for more than two hours.

Cheese sticks made from hard cheese are usually better off because they have less moisture content. Hence, the rate of bacterial growth will also be less.

Nonetheless, they will also eventually spoil and become unsafe for consumption. Don’t leave them outside for longer than is absolutely necessary to avoid any risk.

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How to Freeze Cheese Sticks?

When you have more cheese sticks than you can use, you must store them properly to extend their shelf life.

Cheese sticks hold up longest in the freezer. It’s an easy and effective way to make them last for several months.

Most brands sell cheese sticks individually wrapped. This makes it very convenient to store them. However, if your cheese stick doesn’t come single-wrapped, you can wrap them yourself before freezing them.

Wrapping each cheese stick will protect it from moisture. Exposure to moisture not only affects the texture but also increases the risk of spoiling.

You can wrap your cheese sticks in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. The wrapping should be moisture-proof and air-tight.

After placing them in the cover, press down on the sides to remove any excess air before putting them away.

Once you have individually wrapped the cheese sticks, place the entire lot in an airtight freezer-safe bag. Expel any excess air by pressing down on all sides of the packaging. Then, place the bag flat inside the freezer.

When you need them later, you can retrieve as many sticks as required and return the rest.

Although you can store cheese sticks without wrapping them individually, it can create problems when you try to retrieve them.

The cheese sticks will stick to each other when frozen. It can be difficult to separate them if you need only a few sticks.

Cheese sticks will keep for several months in the freezer. By thawing them properly, you can enjoy the same texture and taste as fresh cheese sticks.

The best way to thaw them is in the fridge.

Move the required number of cheese sticks from the freezer to the refrigerator and leave them to thaw for several hours. They will thaw slowly and evenly without losing much moisture.

However, if you are in a hurry, you have other options. Either thaw them on the counter, submerge them in lukewarm water, or defrost them in the microwave.

Cheese sticks will thaw within a few minutes on the counter or when placed in water. To defrost them in the microwave, use the defrost setting and run the microwave in short bursts of 30 to 45 minutes.