With veganism on the rise and the world taking an eco-friendly approach, vegan products are becoming widely popular. Thus, it makes sense why this would extend to cheese, one of the most popular daily products out there. To tap into this market, many manufacturers offer multiple healthy alternatives in blocks, wedges, slices, parmesan, vegan ricotta, and even unique options like blue cheese.
In this article, we’ll discuss how vegan cheese is made, how it’s different from regular cheese, how it stacks up against traditional cheese, and the critical question “how long does vegan cheese last?”
How is Vegan Cheese Made?
As opposed to regular cheese, vegan cheese is made using vegetable proteins. Instead of milk, vegan-friendly ingredients like soy, cashews and macadamia nuts, or vegetable oils are used to make the cheese.
These vegan alternatives are great if you’re looking for minimally processed, all-natural foods. To add a cheese-like texture, manufacturers add starches and thickeners. However, some people describe the texture of vegan cheese as stickier than regular cheese due to the fat content and the slimy soy products it uses.
How Long Does Regular Cheese Last?
In general, cheese is not a product you can leave in the fridge and forget about. While the specific expiration date will vary depending on the type of cheese, you can expect regular cheese to last between 2 to 3 weeks.
Does Vegan Cheese Last Longer Than Normal Cheese?
As a rule of thumb, you can expect regular cheese to last longer than vegan cheese due to preservatives. For example, traditional brie lasts for about 2 to 3 weeks, while it is advisable to use vegan brie in about a week.
Similarly, regular camembert will last about 1 to 2 weeks in the fridge, while most vegan camembert goes bad in a week. Even the exquisite blue cheese’s vegan counterpart doesn’t stack up to the regular one, going bad in 1 to 2 weeks instead of the traditional cheese’s 3-week expiration date.
It may seem like a negative because your products are going bad faster. However, it’s important to remember that this happens because vegan products use natural ingredients and avoid harmful chemical additives and preservatives.
When it comes to regular cream cheese, it can be stored in the fridge for up to 10 days since the time it is opened. On the other hand, vegan cream cheese lasts up to a week. Homemade vegan parmesan can survive up to 3 weeks in the fridge.
Many vegan brands that incorporate a heavy amount of coconut oil in their products last much longer and dry out most. So keep an eye out for this beneficial ingredient when you’re out shopping!
How to Make Vegan Cheese Last Longer?
With the right tips and tricks, you can make your vegan cheese last a lot longer. The first tip is to keep your cheese in an airtight container in the fridge. Generally, store-bought unopened vegan cheeses can survive up to 4 months in your refrigerator, about the same as their regular counterpart. And when left outside, both will last about 24 hours.
In the fridge, something like regular cheddar doesn’t go wrong for around 6-8 weeks if it’s kept in the refrigerator, while with vegan cheddar, the timing is much more variable. With some brands, it can take up to 6 weeks for it to mold, while with others, some have reported molding in about a week.
The molding rate entirely depends on the fat and water content that the cheese has. Generally, cheese with higher fat content and lower water content will last much longer than those that have higher water content and lower fat content.
Should You Freeze Your Cheese?
Freezing any type of cheese can make it last longer! Most vegan cheeses can last up to 3 months when they’re frozen. However, the tradeoff here is that the texture quality starts to decline rapidly. The creaminess of fresh cheese is replaced with a crumbliness that most people don’t enjoy. Over time the taste of frozen cheese also becomes blander.
How to Tell If Vegan Cheese Has Gone Bad?
Generally, it is a good idea to throw vegan cheese in the bin if the buttery smell is replaced by a pungent odor. When it comes to cheese, its lifespan is directly proportional to its moisture content. The more moisture there is, the better the quality of the cheese will be.
Mold, a green-blue solid, is a good indicator that cheese has gone bad. If you see mold on the cheese, your safest bet is to throw it out. However, if you have to use it, make sure you cut off the moldy part. This only works if you catch it early before the spores spread throughout the cheese.
Is There a Difference Between Regular Cheese And Vegan Cheese?
One difference you’ll notice immediately when you’re cooking with vegan cheese is the difference in melting. Vegan cheese will brown immediately. However, it stays slightly clumped and does not melt the same way regular cheese does. Thus, you shouldn’t expect your lasagna to have the same gooey goodness that traditional cheese gives you.
But when it comes to taste, there’s absolutely no difference. Vegan cheese tastes as delicious as any other type of cheese. In addition, vegan cheese is a much healthier option due to its lower fat content. Although most people prefer homemade vegan cheese, many store-bought options are great, too, especially if you’re on a budget.
How fast a cheese goes terrible will depend on any number of factors, from what type of cheese it is to how you’re storing it. However, generally vegan cheese does not last as long as regular cheese. Now that you know this, make sure you’re buying your cheese in smaller quantities and that you use it within the 1 to 2-week mark.
If you have accidentally purchased too much cheese, then freezing it may be your best option. Otherwise, simply refrigerate it to keep it fresh and healthy!