FAQ

Cheese should be fun, not intimidating! If you've got a question, there's a good chance that you're not alone. Read through our most Frequently Asked Questions for insight into everything to do with specialty cheese.

Where can I find Stella® cheeses?
Stella® cheeses can be found nationwide in most grocer's deli or dairy cases. For a detailed listing of stores that carry Stella® cheeses near you, please visit our Product Locator
How much fat is in cheese?
It depends on the type of cheese you're eating. (For specific details, reference the nutritional information printed on the packaging.) Many cheeses have 8 grams of fat per ounce (1 ounce = 28 grams). Low fat and reduced fat cheeses have between 3 and 6 grams per ounce. There is little that will be saved in the way of fat and calories by eating a low-fat cheese and much to lose in flavor, texture and quality. Flavor in cheese is greatly due to its fat content. It’s also important to remember that whether you’re using it in recipes or as a snack, cheese is an excellent source of calcium and protein.
What happens to the whey after the cheese is made? Is it just thrown out?
Even though the whey represents the water that's a large part of milk, it is still highly nutritious and is used in making many other food products, even other cheeses, such as Ricotta. Whey is also used in many baked products, in medicines, in whey protein powders used by athletes and even in some skin care preparations. However, most whey is used to feed farm animals or to fertilize farmland.
Do Stella® cheeses contain lactose?
The majority of the naturally occurring lactose in the milk used in making cheese is removed during the cheese-making process. However, the finished cheese still contains a trace amount of lactose.
How long will most cheeses keep?

That depends on two things: the cheese and the packaging. Generally, the more moisture a cheese has, the shorter its shelf life. A high-moisture cheese like cottage cheese won't last nearly as long as an aged Parmesan. Shelf life of cheeses will vary. A general rule is the softer the cheese (higher moisture), the shorter the shelf life; the harder the cheese (lower moisture), the longer the shelf life.

  • Soft unripened cheeses (ricotta, cottage cheese): shelf life of 2 to 4 weeks
  • Soft-ripened cheeses (brie): shelf life of 4 to 8 weeks
  • Semi-soft cheeses (muenster, Monterey Jack): shelf life of 2 to 3 months
  • Firm cheeses (Swiss, Cheddar): shelf life of 3 to 6 months
  • Hard cheeses (Parmesan, Romano): shelf life of 7 to 9 months
  • Processed cheeses (American): shelf life of 9 to 12 months

Unopened packages will be good until the sell by/expiration date on the package.

Once a cheese has been opened or removed from its packaging, its shelf life will rapidly accelerate. A good recommendation is to use the cheese within 7 to 10 days of opening it, sooner if possible. You’ll also want to wrap the cheese tightly to preserve it as best as possible. The objective is to keep the air out and the fresh moist flavor of the cheese in.

How should I store leftover cheese?

A good recommendation is to use the cheese quickly after opening it. You’ll also want to wrap the cheese tightly to preserve it as best as possible. The objective is to keep the air out and the fresh moist flavor of the cheese in.

Store blue-veined and other intentionally moldy cheeses away from other cheeses. Their mold spores travel easily through the air and can contaminate other cheeses. These cheeses are also susceptible to picking up strong odors from other cheeses.

Can cheese be frozen?
Although freezing won't spoil the cheese, its texture will change and become less smooth so freezing is not recommended. If you must freeze it, know that soft and/or highest fat cheeses freeze better than lower fat cheeses. Frozen cheese is best used in cooking.
How much cheese should a person buy at a time?
Generally buy only as much cheese as you plan to use in a week or two (reference our Cheese Calculator for more specific information). The exceptions, of course, are the hard grating cheeses. They last a long time provided they're kept in a cool place and are well wrapped to help retain moisture.
My cheese has visible mold. Do I need to throw it away or can it be saved?

It depends on the extent of the mold, really. But if it's just surface mold, most cheese experts would say that you can scrape or cut off the mold and enjoy the cheese anyway.

Sometimes mold indicates that a cheese is spoiled beyond redemption. But how do you know when this happens? To some degree it requires knowing what the cheese looks and smells like when it's good. That way, if something's wrong, you'll recognize it immediately.

Always remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the foods you consume. If you have any doubts, it’s best to throw the cheese away.

Can I reuse the film used to wrap my cheese?
Do not reuse cheese film. It won't close properly and the cheese may have a thin layer of oil on the wrapper, making it difficult to get an airtight seal. Wrap cheese in new plastic wrap after each time it is opened.
What is cheese?
In simple terms, cheese is a concentrated form of milk. It's made by treating the milk so that it coagulates into curd (a thick, custard-like solid) and, at the same time, releases a thin, watery liquid called "whey." The curd is then prepared and ripened, becoming the basis for the cheese.
Does cheese have the same food value as milk?
Cheese is basically a concentrate of milk, with highly concentrated forms of the same nutrients: protein, calcium, vitamins and butterfat.
Do Stella® cheeses contain hydrogenated fats, oils or acids?
No, Stella® cheeses are natural cheeses and do not contain any hydrogenated fats, oils or acids. They only contain milk fat.
What is the rind on cheese?
Basically, the rind is a coating that protects the interior of the cheese as it ripens. The rind may develop naturally (as with genuine Swiss, for example) or it may be an artificial rind — like the inedible wax you see on Gouda.
How can "unintentional" mold be avoided?
Mold spores are very light and travel easily through the air, affecting other cheeses. Because of this, cheeses should be carefully handled and should be kept tightly wrapped and refrigerated. Another good suggestion is to keep cheeses that should have mold away from those that shouldn't.
Does cheese need to be refrigerated?

Refrigeration between 35 to 40° Fahrenheit helps to preserve freshness. It is absolutely necessary for softer cheeses. Leaving cheeses unrefrigerated for long periods of time will dry them out and cause a thin layer of oil to separate from and coat the cheese. It will also rapidly accelerate their shelf life.

Because they have less moisture in them, hard grating cheeses like Parmesan and Romano can go for extended periods without refrigeration.

A good rule of thumb is to keep all cheeses refrigerated from the time you bring them home from the store.

Is mold on cheese harmful?

Mold is actually a form of microscopic organism — otherwise known as microbes — that feeds on cheese. It may be there either intentionally or unintentionally.

In Danish Blue, for example, a form of penicillium bacteria — also used to make penicillin — is intentionally used to develop a harmless, edible and really delicious blue mold. The downy white rind we see on a cheese like brie is another form of penicillium — one that instead of being blue, develops an edible white mold on the surface of soft-ripened cheeses.

Sometimes mold can develop as a result of improper storage and handling; this is what we call unintentional mold. In many cases, unintentional mold can be scraped or cut away and the remaining cheese can still be enjoyed. Always remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the foods you consume. If you have any doubts, it’s best to throw the cheese away.

My cheese’s package is puffed out like a balloon. Can I still eat it?

Don't be alarmed by "ballooning" bags or wrappers. This occurs most often with Swiss cheese which, like all cheeses, is alive and never stops ripening. During this process, certain natural gases will collect. While the aroma of this gas is likely to be strong, the cheese is perfectly edible.

When a cheese has an "off-odor," be sure to also taste it. Taste, not smell, is the best indicator of the quality of a cheese.

Always remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the foods you consume. If you have any doubts, it’s best to throw the cheese away.

My cheese has no visible mold, but it doesn’t look/smell like it should. Do I need to throw it away or can it be saved?

First, make sure the cheese hasn't lost any of its natural moisture, becoming drier or harder than it should. You may want to compare your piece to a fresher piece to see the true difference. If the texture is still worthy of eating, you can consider keeping it. Too dry? Too hard? Toss it!

Second, check the color of the cheese. If the color and appearance is the same as when you bought it, you can most likely keep it. Is it unusually dark? Does it have any unusual spots? Toss it!

Third, closely examine the aroma of the cheese. If it still smells like it did when you bought it, it’s most likely safe for consumption. If it’s developed an odd aroma (keep in mind, some cheeses are naturally stinky), toss it!

Finally, make sure that no surface mold has spread to the interior of the cheese. No questions asked here — toss it!

Always remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the foods you consume. If you have any doubts, it’s best to throw the cheese away.

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