Cheese is undoubtedly one of the most versatile items you keep in the refrigerator. It’s delicious on its own and is easily the star ingredient in dishes like mac and cheese or broccoli-cheddar soup. As wonderful as it is, cheese does have a problem—a tendency to mold.
If you’ve ever reached into the refrigerator only to discover your cheese has turned moldy, you’ve probably found yourself wondering if moldy cheese is safe to eat. The answer is, it depends. We went to Cortney LaCorte, founder and owner of Cheese Gal, an artisanal cheese and charcuterie board business in Nashville to find out what you need to know about eating moldy cheese.
Cortney LaCorte is the founder and owner of Cheese Gal, an artisanal cheese and charcuterie board business in Nashville.
What Causes Cheese to Mold?
LaCorte says there is no single reason cheese turns moldy. One common cause is too much moisture when the cheese is being stored. The use of plastic wrapping or zip top bags can retain too much moisture. When you consider this, which container would you choose instead for your cheese?
The other common cause of moldy cheese is inconsistent temperatures in refrigeration. Should your cheese start growing mold, you might find yourself diagnosing an appliance issue. Be thankful your cheese was there for you.
Is Moldy Cheese Safe to Eat?
Good news! In most cases, LaCorte says moldy cheese is safe to eat. She’s quick to point out that the outside rind of brie is mold to begin with. “This moldy exterior is called a ‘Bloomy Rind’ and is perfectly safe to eat, but technically a mold nonetheless,” she explains. With hard or semi-soft cheeses such as Cheddar, Havarti, or Brie, she says you can just cut the mold off and consume them as usual.
The exception is fresh cheese. “If you see mold growing on a fresh cheese, like a Mozarella, it’s sadly got to go,” says to LaCorte. “Fresh cheeses are meant to be consumed right away.” This includes other fresh cheeses such as cottage cheese and Queso Fresco as well.
How Much Mold Do You Have to Cut Away?
If you remove a block of cheese from the refrigerator and find mold, LaCorte recommends cutting at least an inch off of the cheese around the mold. “The mold is usually on the outside of hard and semi-soft cheeses like Cheddar and Parmesan, so cutting about an inch out where the mold was will make it good as new,” she says.
Be sure and have that container ready to better store your cheese. You’ve eliminated plastic zip top bags and other plastics, so moving to a glass container might be your next step to preventing mold. Consider the option of cheese paper as well. Using cheese paper allows cheese to breathe while simultaneously keeping excess moisture at bay.
Moldy Cheeses That You Need
There are those cheeses out there that are known for their mold, and certainly, in the case of choosing cheese of this type, you have some choices. Keep in mind that cheese of this type has a depth of flavor, and is more often considered “stinky” cheese. One of these is Camembert. It originated from the French village of Camembert. Curdled milk is introduced to the bacteria in the cheese to increase mold production. Camembert is great paired with a baguette or fruit and crackers.
Two types of blue cheese, Stilton and Gorgonzola, are different in their origins. While Stilton is from Great Britain and is only produced in six dairies in the UK, Gorgonzola originates from Italy’s Milan region. Both are pungent and possess the distinctive blue veining that marks true blue. Try a blue cheese paired with grapes, apples, or crackers.