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Pinning Down the Shelf-Life of Mascarpone

 I would like to know the shelf-life of mascarpone cheese.

 Well, really, who wouldn't? The official shelf-life of mascarpone cheese is all over the place.

Mascarpone is a type of cream cheese, developed in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, and is made in one of two ways. Fresh cream is coagulated by citric or tartaric acid, or it is simply heated slowly until it thickens. Many people consider it more of a fresh dairy product than a cheese.

We spoke to a half-dozen cheese companies – all of which swear on stacks of bibles that they use no preservatives – yet the keeping properties of their mascarpones show few similarities.

The shelf-life of Belgioioso's mascarpone is 150 days, but, according to a spokeswoman, the company makes no guarantee after you open their product. You should use it all at once, she says.

Belfiore Cheese says its mascarpone is good for 30 days from the date of manufacturer, whether you open it or not.

Vermont Butter and Cheese says its mascarpone is good for 90 days from the date of manufacture, but should be used up within a week of opening.

Cantaré's mascarpone has a shelf-life of 90 days, again unopened.

Zanetti mascarpone, imported from Italy, has an unopened shelf-life of 45 days. We couldn't really find any useful information about the Italian brands Delitia, Galbani, Cinque Stelle, Èpiù, or Emma, which are all, apparently, available in the US from time to time.

In the absence of a sell-by or best-use date, we would not keep sealed mascarpone for more than 30 days and would absolutely use it up within a week of opening the container. In general, though, it's not the sort of thing you keep on hand, is it? You buy mascarpone because you want to make something special, right? That's how we do it….

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