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How Long Does Mozzarella Cheese Last

There’s some leftover mozzarella in the fridge from that salad or homemade pizza you made. How long does mozzarella cheese last?

Or you’ve bought a mozzarella loaf (or stick), and you’re wondering how its storage time compares to hard cheeses.

Either way, you could benefit from knowing a thing or two more about mozzarella. And that’s what this article is all about.

Couple of mozzarella balls
Couple of mozzarella balls

How Long Does Fresh Mozzarella Last and How to Store It

Fresh mozzarella lasts for up to a week past the date on the label. Once you open the bag, the cheese keeps between 3 and 7 days, depending on the storage method.

Fresh mozzarella doesn’t last that long. Its date is usually about three to four weeks from the manufacture date, so the storage time is shorter than one of blue cheese or Brie.

As you probably know, you always keep mozzarella in the fridge. For leftover fresh mozzarella, there are two storage options:

  • Wrapped in plastic. Such mozzarella keeps nice and moist for about 3 to 4 days.
  • Submerged in water or brine. This option allows you to keep it in good quality for up to a week.

It’s best to store fresh mozzarella in the liquid that’s in the package.

If you discarded it, use water or water with salt (half a teaspoon salt per one cup of water). Go with the latter if your mozzarella is salted. Change the liquid every two days.

If you go with wrapping the mozzarella ball in plastic, make sure it’s tight. Otherwise, the cheese will start drying out and harden.

Mozzarella balls in a container
Mozzarella balls in a container

How To Tell If Fresh Mozzarella Is Bad?

Discard your fresh mozzarella if:

  • It’s moldy, or there are some discolorations on the surface. It grows mold much faster when it’s not covered in liquid. Cutting out the spoiled area and eating the rest isn’t safe – get rid of the whole thing immediately.
  • It smells or tastes sour. Sour mozzarella equals old mozzarella. If it’s a bit sour it won’t give you a stomach ache or anything, but you certainly won’t like the experience.
  • It’s all dried out or hardened. If you wrapped mozzarella in plastic wrap and the cheese has dried out, you probably didn’t do a very good job of it. Hardened mozzarella is no good quality-wise, and getting rid of it is perhaps the best choice.
Mozzarella starting to spoil
Mozzarella starting to spoil

Is a bit sour or partly dry mozzarella actually spoiled?

Not really. Unless there’s mold or any other obvious sign that the cheese is done for, the rest is a matter of personal preference.

As I mentioned, eating sour mozzarella shouldn’t make you sick, and the same goes for hardened mozzarella balls. At this point, it’s all about the quality.

Bag of mozzarella balls
Bag of mozzarella balls

I, for one, am not bothered much if the food quality isn’t optimal anymore.

When I see mozzarella getting old and start to turn sour-ish, I have no problem consuming it. But I would never serve it to my wife (who cares about food quality a bit more than I do) or any guests we’re having.

If that leftover mozzarella doesn’t taste as good as you’d like, get rid of it.

Breakfast with scrambled eggs and mozzarella
Breakfast with scrambled eggs and mozzarella

How Long Does Mozzarella Loaf Last and How to Store It

Unopened mozzarella blocks last for about two to three weeks past the date on the label. Once you open the package, the stick keeps quality for up to two, maybe three weeks.

Mozzarella sticks (or loaves) last a bit longer than fresh mozzarella, but still nowhere near hard cheeses like Parmesan.

The date on the label is usually about two to three months of the packaging date. And because it lasts longer, it also keeps quality longer past its date.

Mozzarella block on a cutting board
Mozzarella block on a cutting board

Once you open the package, you need to keep the cheese wrapped so that it doesn’t dry out.

If you can use the original plastic wrap to do that, great. Otherwise, use plastic wrap or cheese wrap, and make sure the dairy product is wrapped well. A plastic bag can work too; just remember to remove all the air before sealing it.

If those two to three weeks of storage time aren’t enough for you, consider grating the leftovers and freezing them.

Melted mozzarella
Melted mozzarella

How To Tell If Mozzarella Loaf Is Bad?

When checking if your mozzarella block is still okay to eat, do the following:

  • Look for mold or other discolorations on the surface. If there’s only a small spot on the surface, you can cut it out (and then some), and eat the rest. If it’s quite large, getting rid of the block is the better choice.
  • Check the smell. If it smells sour or off in any other way, it’s time for it to go.
  • Consider storage time. If the loaf sits in the refrigerator open for like six weeks, it’s better to assume it’s expired and get rid of it. Yes, even if it seems alright.
Prepping panini with mozzarella
Prepping panini with mozzarella

Besides that, the leftover stick can dry out and harden over time, as Gouda or Edam cheeses do.

Hardened mozzarella is fine for melting, but not that great otherwise. If the latter is the case, cut away the dry area and enjoy the rest.

An old mozzarella block works well in recipes where you melt it, like, e.g., mozzarella sticks, paninis, and various toppings.

Mozzarella block and slices
Mozzarella block and slices

Summary

  • Always keep mozzarella refrigerated.
  • You can store fresh mozzarella in the liquid it comes in, make brine yourself, of wrap it in plastic wrap.
  • Fresh mozzarella lasts for up to a week past its date, and for three days to a week after opening.
  • Store mozzarella loaf wrapped properly, so it doesn’t dry out too quickly.
  • Mozzarella block lasts for a couple of weeks after opening.
Panini with mozzarella
Panini with mozzarella. My first try. The sandwiches tasted better than they look.