Cottage cheese is a polarizing food. Some people love it, while others can't stand the taste or texture. It's similar to ricotta cheese with its thick mouthfeel, but cottage cheese consists of curd lumps — fats and proteins from the cow's milk — that haven't been fully strained from the liquid whey.
Cottage cheese has grown in popularity because of its nutritional profile and reported health benefits. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it's a nutrient-dense protein option that's low in fat compared to other dairy-based cheeses. This has led many on social media to create recipes like cottage cheese cookie dough and cottage cheese ice cream. However, since cottage cheese is seen as a soft cheese, it won't last as long in the fridge as hard cheeses like jack or cheddar.
The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service provides guidelines for consumption based on freshness and quality, noting that unopened cottage cheese that's refrigerated is safe up to two weeks after purchase. However, if the container has been opened, it will only last for one week in the fridge. While many cheeses can be frozen to extend their longevity, this technique doesn't work well for cottage cheese or other cheeses that are high in moisture because the liquid tends to freeze.
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Expiration Dates Can Feel Subjective
Of course, food safety rules are often taken as a general guideline and not always followed to a tee. For some consumers, this could mean trusting the expiration date listed on the container. Others check if the food passes the smell test. Understandably, it can be frustrating to feel like you're wasting food. So, if your cottage cheese has remained in your cold refrigerator (40 degrees Fahrenheit or below) unopened, there's a good chance you can stretch the expiration date for another week or two.
There are several ways to tell if your cottage cheese has gone bad. Besides a potent, rancid smell, expired cottage cheese may also have fuzzy patches of blue, green, or gray mold growing on it. A Reddit user inquired about the signs of cottage cheese spoilage, and many commenters shared a similar sentiment, claiming that there will be a bad smell or sharp, sour taste similar to other expired dairy products.
One user even suggests tasting a small amount and spitting it out if it's "sharp" or sour. Alternatively, another stated that "bacteria release gas [which] causes extra 'air' in the container," causing the lid to swell. If that's the case, it's best to toss it. Ultimately, food poisoning is never fun, so erring on the side of caution and using your cottage cheese within a week of opening is your best bet.
Read the original article on Mashed.