How long can cheese sit out of refrigeration?
Awesome question! It’s one I get a lot at the counter, especially in the summertime. Unfortunately, there isn’t one simple answer: It all depends on the cheese. Generally speaking, those with a higher moisture content like fresh cheeses, soft cheeses, or anything especially squishy don’t do as well outside of the fridge as something that is harder with less moisture.
Be careful with spreadable cheeses, those that are moist to the touch, ooze-y wedges, and, as a public transit rider, I’ll also add especially odorous pieces. I’d keep those out for only a couple hours, maybe one or two more if there’s air-conditioning. Cheddars, goudas, grating or alpine cheeses, British territorials, or French tommes are all fine on longer trips that last several hours. However, you do want to be careful with especially dry cheeses that might sweat when they get warm. The good news is that the cheese you travel with will most likely be at the perfect temp when you eat them, resulting in a more nuanced experience.
When in doubt, talk to your monger; they’ll have a good idea of how sturdy cheeses are and which ones travel well. You can also ask if they have any spare ice packs; I always have some on hand from recent deliveries for people that are traveling with cheese.
Special thanks to Cheesemonger Emilie Villmore of Bacco’s Wine and Cheese in Boston for answering this question and letting us use her beautiful photo for this post.