How long does it take for cheese to ripen? Normally, from a few days to a number of years. What happens if cheese is left to ripen for 40 years? Is it still edible? Surprisingly, it is. But the flavor is so sharp that one could only eat a small portion at a time.
According to a story in Chicago Reader, Ed Zahn, a cheese maker in Milwaukee, forgot about a block of cheddar that had been stored to ripen in a walk-in cooler since the Nixon administration. There were also boxes of cheddar that were 34 and 28 years old, respectively.
The oldest edible cheese is not, however, the oldest cheese in the world. The oldest cheese was discovered on the necks and chests of mummies in northern China. Upon analysis, the burial dates were placed between 1450 to 1650 BC. Why these ancient Chinese were buried with cheese is unclear.