How Long Do Cheese Sticks Last

Is It Safe To Eat Cheese Sticks Left Out Of The Refrigerator Overnight?

Cheese and therefore many derivatives of cheese are key ingredients in our food – who does not like fresh mozzarella, a mozzarella stick or even frozen cheese sticks.

Natural cheese is easy to make, flexible, and downright delicious.

While unopened string cheese can last a long time in the cooler or refrigerator, it can be difficult to know just how long shelf-stable cheese, even sliced cheese can be left out. (It should be noted that harder cheeses have a better shelf life – but the same principles we will discuss below apply.

The short answer is Cheese sticks should be stored in a cool refrigerated environment. However, if they are unopened and in an air-sealed package plus the temperature is 70 or below it is likely they can be left out of the fridge for about a few days and still be ok to eat. But if the packaging is cut or opened, never leave them out.

if in doubt chuck them out.

Many people also say you can make fried mozzarella sticks out of them – but I say do not start to make a good yummy treat with a spoiled product.

How Long Do Cheese Sticks Last

Who does not have any cheese in the fridge? It is one of the most important staples in any cuisine in the world. This dairy product is usually either cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, Monterey Jack, Colby, and another whole type block of cheese. Plus, it is very easy and convenient to make yummy food from any type of cheese. It just depends on your taste. Hence, it is always a favorite dish to serve during large parties and events along with cheese board and wine. 

However, the shelf life of dairy products, including cheese sticks, might be quite tricky to handle. If you know the basics,  packaged shelf-stable semi-soft cheeses have longer shelf life than normal soft cheese and hard or firmer cheeses are longer than soft cheese in terms of how long they last in or out of the fridge. These perishable foods can quickly dry out and develop molds and bacteria. So you must always visually inspect suspect cheese before eating – blue vein cheese is an exception.

With that, here are some details on how long cheese sticks will last and how to practice food good safety.

How Long Can Cheese Sticks Be Left Out
How Long Can Cheese Sticks Be Left Out

Do Cheese Sticks Expire

If left outside the fridge, cheese sticks normally do not last long. They will spoil faster if they are left out in a sunny or hot area. However, cheese sticks that are wrapped in airtight plastic or left in a cooler place can last out unrefrigerated for longer. Their individual manufacturing processes also affect the shelf life. 

During the ancient time, people were pretty much creative in storing different types of cheeses since refrigeration was not yet a thing then. They usually add salt to help prolong the shelf life, hence decomposition was prevented. They also left other types of food in cool dry underground areas to keep them from going bad because of too much moisture. 

As previously mentioned, semi-soft cheeses should be kept in a cool, dry area wrapped in a sealed plastic wrap, zip lock bag or parchment paper. While the hard cheeses can be kept at room temperature to help them turn into aged cheese in due course. 

Today, in modern times, the manufacturing process of cheese has something to do with very high heat – pasteurization. In that way, it will keep any bacteria out of the cheese and the food will only preserve the good bacteria, which is an essential ingredient in making cheeses.

Meaning, keeping it in an airtight container or plastic is an easy way of prolonging the shelf life and keeping the moisture inside. Also, soft cheeses like string cheese that is made out of mozzarella, can last longer in the fridge if kept in the right conditions. 

How Long Are Cheese Sticks Good Out of the Fridge

When outside of the fridge, cheese sticks typically do not last that long. Follow the same procedures you follow fo other food – maybe 2-3 hours at room temperature if it is not too hot. However, if the ambient temperature is over 8o they will spoil much faster.

If they are left out in the sun, they will last even a shorter amount of time and you will see it in both the smell and the discoloration on the cheese.

How Long Does Cheese String Last?

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), soft cheese like cottage cheese, shredded cheese, cream cheese, and goat cheese must be kept refrigerated all the time. While the hard cheeses such as processed cheeses (mostly used for cheese sticks), cheddar cheese, and Parmesan cheese do not necessarily need refrigeration since they can last long enough. 

These are the approximate storage times for cheeses:

  • Soft cheeses: 1 to 2 weeks
  • Hard cheeses: 6 months if unopened. 3 to 4 weeks if opened. Shredded hard cheeses last more than a month.

Normally, string cheeses no longer give a creamy smell when left out of the fridge for more than a couple of hours. If that happens, it will begin to have a layer of slime on the surface, as well as bloating of the package. A moldy cheese will soon resurface after more days of being left unrefrigerated. In that case, throwing the cheese sticks out in the garbage bin is the best thing that you can do to keep everyone safe. 

What Happens to Cheese Sticks that have Been Left Out

Here are some changes to the cheese sticks or strings you might notice – and these should be taken as signs that they are no longer safe to eat.

  • the creamy smell that fresh cheese has is gone
  • have a layer of slime on the surface, even if it feels slippy that can be a sign
  • bloating of the package, if the package swells up then get rid of the cheese.

In the case of processed, shelf stale cheese sticks, they can be placed out unrefrigerated for longer since they are made out of processed cheese. Hence, they will last longer without developing any mold or slime on the surface.

Certainly they will be ok at a salad bar or taco bar for your big group gathering.

Big Cheese Sticks
Big Cheese Sticks

Do Cheese Sticks Need to Be Refrigerated (Proper Storage)

If your cheese sticks are primarily made of soft cheese, which most are, better to store them in your refrigerator at a cool temperature. By doing that, you can retain their original texture and taste that would last for weeks if not months. 

On the other hand, if you have purchased cheese in a huge quantity for a large crowd, you can store them in a freezer to make them last longer. You have to be sure that you know the proper freezing measures as well as thawing the cheese if it needs to be cooked.

Here are some ideas on how you can freeze your cheese sticks:

  • Make sure your cheese does not have high water content to prevent its texture from crumbling.
  • Place your cheese sticks into a freezer bag.
  • Place some parchment paper in between the cheese sticks to prevent them from sticking together.
  • Wrap the cheese sticks in freezer paper, seal them, and place them on a freezer-safe container. 

If you plan to cook your frozen cheese sticks, I mean who does not like taking from the freezer bag frozen mozzarella sticks and deep-frying them after covering them with egg, flour,and panko breadcrumbs. Note always store your frozen cheese in a freezer bag, zipped tightly closed to prevent freezer burn. (I find plastic wrap always lets in some ice crystals)

Now here are some tips on how to thaw them first

  • Slowly defrost to maintain the cheese’s texture. 
  • Leave the package tightly sealed in a plastic bag or freezer-safe container to maintain the moisture as it starts to thaw. 
  • Keep it in the fridge while thawing
  • Do not thaw at room temperature or in the oven to prevent them from drying out.

I reckon baked mozzarella sticks are the best. Do not forget to serve your homemade mozzarella sticks with a dipping sauce also for that extra flavor – and to finish off have a nice cool glass of pasteurized milk.

Can I Eat A Cheese Stick That Was Left Overnight

It actually depends. If you think your cheese sticks look completely fine—without any discoloration and slimy surface—then you can probably still eat it. 

If you are unsure you can cook your cheese, bring it to a temperature that will kill any bacteria.

Your first option would be broiling or grilling it on top of a sandwich, or roast beef say. 

A second option that you can do is to smoke your cheese sticks to give them a little kick of taste. Wrap the cheese in a cheesecloth when smoked. 

Serving Of Cheese Sticks
Serving Of Cheese Sticks

The third option is to salvage your cheese sticks by creating delicious recipes from them using heat. One of the simplest ways to do this is by breadcrumbing the cheese and deep-frying them or even air fry if you want less oil. Add a little marinara sauce and they will definitely end up being a brand new dish on the table. 

To make it safer, remember the guidelines and tips we have noted above. Also, follow the tips written in the packaging since it always varies depending on how the cheese is made.

And if you are unsure – just discard them into the trash.

What are the Types of Cheese Use To Make Cheese Sticks

Cheese sticks can be made using any type of cheese but are usually made with mozzarella. However, did you know that there are many different types of cheeses that are available? They are classified into how they are made, taste, aroma, and appearance as well. 

Hard or Firm Cheese For Cheese String or Sticks

Hard cheeses are firm in texture. They usually taste savory and can age for 2 to 36 months. These are also the types of cheese that take longer to expire since they are less moist, less creamy, and grainer in texture. They are usually paired with nuts, honey, apples, sparkling wine, and used in salads. But you can also cut them into fine cheese sticks for something different. Here are some of them:

  • Manchego
  • Pecorino
  • Grana-Padano
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano

Semi-hard Cheese

This type of cheese has the perfect balance of moisture and aridity. They are slightly springy and firm in texture, savory and tangy flavors, and denser. These cheeses are usually served with fruits and red wines. But they are also great to make rich flavor cheese string. The most popular semi-hard cheeses are:

  • Gouda
  • Cheddar
  • Havarti
  • Gruyere

Fresh Cheese

Fresh cheeses or soft cheeses are made from fresh curds that haven’t aged. This type of cheese is usually used as a substitute for creams in different recipes. They have a very mild flavor that is why it is commonly found in salads and pasta.  Here are some of them:

  • Feta
  • Mozzarella
  • Cream cheese
  • Burrata
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Blue cheese

What Kinds of Cheeses Do Not Require Refrigeration

Hard cheeses like Parmesan, cheddar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano do not need to be refrigerated but they will last longer if stored in a cool area. These cheese can still be eaten and consumed safely with or without refrigeration. However, soft, moist, and fresh cheeses are required to be kept in a refrigerator.

Do cheese sticks need to be refrigerated

If it is shelf-stable cheese you buy in the supermarket – un-refrigerated – then yes you can cover them and they will be stable outside. However, check before eating them if it has been hot.

Can I eat a cheese stick that was left out overnight?

If it is shelf stable cheese string or sticks then it should be fine – smell it and visually inspect it first – also has it been covered – else insects or bugs may have been on it. Otherwise, for another type of cheese, it is most likely you will need to bin it.