Best Before Dates versus Use By Dates
18th April 2011
There has been some recent misunderstanding amongst consumers in regard to Before Before Dates and Use By Dates. Let me explain.
When it comes to cheese it is always important to understand that a Best Before Date simply suggests that the cheese should be consumed by this date, however in reality soft and blue cheeses will ripen and develop flavour depending on the surrounding environment in which they are stored. If your fridge at home is at a lower temperature, such as two degrees then the cheese will ripe much slower than if the fridge is at a higher temperature, such as six degrees.
If you like your cheese to be very ripe and stronger in flavour you should allow the cheese to ripen beyond its Best Before Date, always checking the cheese by tasting it at room temperature every couple of days to ensure that it develops its flavour in line with the flavour profile that you enjoy. Ideally the cheeses that I’m thinking of are camembert, brie, triple cream, soft goat’s milk cheese, and blue cheeses.
When it comes to hard cheese it really is about maturation over a longer time period so these cheeses will mature and become drier. Ideally if you want to grate these styles as opposed to eating them as table cheeses then hold onto them longer. The styles that I’m referring to are hard and cooked cheeses such as Parmesan from the Grana Padano and Emilia Reggiano regions of Northern Italy, Comte from France and Manchego from Spain. There are many more styles so check out our website for more examples.
Use By Dates simply should be adhered to as these dates have been identied by the manufacturer as the longest possible date by which the cheese can be consumed. In saying that, you will find most cheeses are labelled Best Before and not Use By.