We’ve all been there: you reach into the cheese drawer for a piece of cheese you’ve been saving (or at least, trying not to eat uncontrollably), open it up, and find that it is moldy. You then feel ashamed that you’ve let such a wonderful little piece of heaven go to waste, knowing that had you just given into temptation in the past and allowed yourself to eat the whole thing, this wouldn’t have happened.
Well dearest cheese lover, it doesn’t always have to be this way. There is life after mold (sometimes). And so, I present to you this User’s Guide to Moldy Cheese, as adapted from the Mayo Clinic and Chow.com.
DO NOT EAT THE CHEESE IF:
- It is a soft cheese, such as cream cheese, cottage cheese, feta, or ricotta.
- The cheese is shredded, crumbled, or sliced.*
- The mold is black, neon orange or bubblegum pink colored. If you see any of these colors, trash dat cheese instantly. These colors could indicate the presence of the bacterium Serratia marcescens, which is super toxic and you shouldn’t mess with it. (Unless the cheese is a washed-rind cheese, like Taleggio. Its mold is supposed to be orange-ish.)
Why? With these kinds of cheeses, it is really easy for the mold to spread throughout the entire cheese, even if you can’t see it. And along with this mold might come harmful bacteria such as listera, brucella, E. coli and salmonella.
* Disclaimer: I’d like the Mayo Clinic to better define “sliced”… aren’t most cheeses sliced at some point in their cheese life? Doesn’t the cheese shop have to slice their giant block of mother cheese into smaller pieces to package for individual sale? I usually use this “grey” area to err on the side of eat the cheese… but that probably isn’t the safest thing, so cheese at your own risk / don’t try this at home / legal disclaimer etc.
But remember, don’t be like this guy, because Feta is crumbled:
YOU CAN PROBABLY EAT THE CHEESE IF:
- If the cheese is a semisoft or hard cheese (such as cheddar, swiss, colby, parmesan, asiago, etc.) and isn’t crumbled or shredded or “sliced”. In this case, just cut off the moldy part and eat the cheese.
- If the cheese is supposed to be moldy (especially on the rind, see Taleggio), such as Brie, Camembert, and Bleu cheese. With cheeses like Brie and Camembert, the “mold” growing is actually a new rind and is probably okay to eat.
- The mold is white or green on a harder cheese. These molds are generally safe if you just cut them off and eat the non-moldy part of the cheese.
- The mold is orange or reddish and the cheese is a washed-rind cheese.
In sum: soft, pink, neon orange, shredded, grated, crumbled, or black = no.
Questions? Comments? Moldy cheese adventures? Leave a comment below!
NEXT TIME: Burrata. ‘Nuff said.