Have you ever wondered how the raw fresh milk of a cow turns to the stringy snack that we love to tear and eat that is string cheese? I know I have.
The process begins with whole fresh milk that is put in a pasteurizer. This step is important for the killing of any bacteria that may be present in the milk.
Interestingly enough, once the pasteurization is done, specific bacteria cultures are added back into the milk to start the actual cheese-making process. What these bacteria cultures do is to turn the sugar in the milk into lactic acid.
This said lactic acid then makes the proteins contained in the milk to clump or come together, resulting in a mixture of lumpy curds and the liquid known as whey.
The next step is to separate the lumpy curds and the whey. Once this is done, the curds are salted. The salt plays the role of stopping the process of the bacteria growing and also to add some flavor and character to the cheese.
These curds are then rinsed to wash away any excess salts. These clean curds are then placed in a sort of cooker that is filled with hot water to soften them up. They then get run through an auger mixer that kneads the curds together.
The result? Huge chunks of mozzarella cheese. It is still not strung cheese until it goes through another machine known as an extruder that forces the mozzarella cheese through narrow skinny pipes to shape them into long cheese ropes. These ropes then get cut down and packaged ready for snacking.
Does string cheese go bad? Just like every other natural ingredient or even form of cheese, string cheese will go bad if you do not properly store it. It already has a short shelf life and the only way to bank on it, keeping fresher for longer albeit a few days, lies in storage practices.
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How Long Does String Cheese Last?
The length of time that string cheese lasts for will ultimately last for greatly depends on the manner in which it is stored.
That is to say, whether you store your packet of string cheese in a kitchen cabinet or on the kitchen counter, in the refrigerator or the freezer will almost directly translate to how long you get to keep your string cheese for. It also matters whether or not you have opened your packet of string cheese.
Ideally, if you have an unopened packet of string cheese, it will maintain optimum quality and keep fresh for about one week past the date of expiry that is usually printed by the manufacturer on the packaging of the string cheese.
Put in the refrigerator, your unopened packet of string cheese can go for up to between two and three weeks.
After the opening of the packet of string cheese, it is universally advised that you use it or consume it within a week for best results. However, if you are not able to finish an entire packet and you have leftovers, they can last at room temperature for only five days.
When moved into the refrigerator, the string cheese can push it for a maximum of one week.
Can You Freeze String Cheese?
I am sure that any other cheese lover like me would want to ensure that their cheese lasts as long as possible so that it is available for use in several other future meals.
In the event that you are, you can choose to go a step further in the preservation of your string cheese and opt to use the freezer.
Now, we all know that the lowering of temperature in the preservation process usually does not allow the creating or arising of an environment that is conducive enough for bacteria to thrive and multiply in.
This being the case, freezing string cheese is the best option to prolong its shelf life. Keep in mind that this freezing option will only keep the string cheese in good shape for a period of between six and eight months.
The success of the preservation of string cheese through freezing also greatly depends on whether the temperature in the freezer is maintained at a constant level and that the string cheese, if opened, is placed in a sealed container before being placed in the freezer.
Can you melt string cheese?
String Cheese is low fat and low moisture cheese, therefore melting it might not be the best application. It is designed not to be melted, thus it is more shelf-stable.
The produced mozzarella you find in stick cheese is often more tightly packed and drier than the other shredded mozzarella cheese. With the usually processed cheese, it is the emulsifiers that are used that allow them to melt easily with low moisture.
String Cheese is made as a to-go snack that should be eaten from the individual packets. In general string cheese will start to melt at 32 degrees when sliced thinly.
Since it is a high moisture cheese which is semi-soft, you will need to increase its surface area by slicing it into really thin slices. To properly melt the string cheese, you will then need to lay the thinly sliced pieces in a microwave-safe container and heat it in the microwave on high for between 1 – 2 minutes.
For the best results while melting the string cheese,
- Avoid adding any liquids to try and make the string cheese saucy. You will end up with lumps that cannot be resolved.
- Make sure that you slice them as thin as you can get them for the best results.
- Do not microwave the individually wrapped plastic alone.
- If you do place the string cheese as a whole, rotate it regularly so that the heat is distributed evenly on all sides.
How to Tell If String Cheese Has Expired?
As the case with natural products is, reliance on our senses is the key way to tell that the spoilage process has begun. The same can be said for string cheese.
Visually, if you notice the occurrence of any signs of mold on the surface of the cheese, leave it alone. Similarly, if the texture becomes slimy and slippery to touch and the odor becomes off, throw the whole packet away.
You may also notice some specks of green beginning to form on the surface of the cheese, this is also a sign of spoilage or beginning to go bad.
What makes string cheese so ‘stringy’?
The making of string cheese is the result of heating Mozzarella cheese to around degrees. Once it gets to this high temperature, the proteins that are contained in the milk start to vibrate and as such move around.
In the process of moving around, somehow, they end up ‘lined up’ in a sort of row and the cheese becomes stretchy.
It is this process of the proteins contained in the milk aligning with each other that results in the cheese becoming so ‘stringy’.
How To Store String Cheese
The storing of string cheese directly relates to the qualities that string cheese possesses. What this means is that string cheese, for instance, is highly absorbent and because of that, you cannot just place it uncovered in the refrigerator or even pantry.
The risk of doing this is that it will pick up or absorb the smell of almost every other food product that is in its vicinity and gas a strong scent. To avoid this, it is advisable to store string cheese in an airtight resealable container.
Furthermore, to avoid distorting or having the integrity and quality of the string cheese losing value or deteriorating, it is important that if you have chosen to have your string cheese remain in the pantry, that you keep it away from direct interaction with environmental elements.
These are things like direct sunlight and fluctuating temperatures. To summarize, it is best to store string cheese in a cool, dry, and dark place. This way, the string cheese will not be exposed to any moisture that may promote the growth of the bad kind of bacteria.
Interesting Facts About Cheese
- In the United States of America alone, there are 60 Master Cheesemakers and they all coincidentally live in the state of Wisconsin.
- People or individuals who are lactose intolerant can still enjoy cheese as long as they pick the correct kinds such as cheddar and gouda. The more aged the cheese, the less lactose it contains.
- Despite popular belief and cartoons, mice do not actually like to eat cheese. Yep, they prefer sweets.
- It takes about 10 pounds of milk to result in just one pound of cheese.
- Due to some concerns with relation to bacteria, some cheeses have been banned in the United States of America.
- Ever heard of cheese caves? Well, they are a real thing. These caves that were used traditionally in place of refrigeration are silvery much in use today. For instance, in America, manufacturers construct their cheese caves. These allow them to regulate temperature and humidity to their exact specifications.