Moldy Cheese Day?

By DeDe Hausmann

You know that there seems to be a day for just about anything.  Well hold onto your hats for -October 9th has been designated as NATIONAL MOLDY CHEESE DAY!

OK let’s make it clear.  Some natural cheeses are injected with a Penicillium Rogueforti Bacteria to produce a mold spore that helps the cheese ripen and develop a distinctive flavor, as in Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Maytag and other cheeses.  And most cheeses have a small amount of internal and surface mold that we don’t see.  BUT if you purchase a cheese and it later develops a mold while it’s refrigerated at home, that moldy area on that cheese is NOT OK to eat!

Mold can develop on any cheese once the product is exposed to air.  Shredded, cubed and sliced cheese can develop mold faster than chunks of natural cheese because they have a greater surface area.

To help delay the formation of mold on cheese, make sure you store the cheese in air-tight packaging.   Once the cheese is exposed to air though, expect mold formation to begin.

And once that mold forms it can spread quickly throughout the cheese.

Do know that you can eat cheese from a chunk of cheese that has mold spores on it.  JUST DO NOT EAT ANY OF THE MOLD.   Cut the mold out of the cheese making sure not to touch the mold with the knife.   If I find mold on a natural cheese, as in cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, and Swiss, I cut a wide area around the mold and ditch it immediately and then clean the knife WELL before using it again.

So what happens if you find mold in a liquid-based cheese (or other dairy) product?  This includes cottage and ricotta cheese, sour cream and yogurt.  The mold can and will contaminate the liquid that flows throughout the product so do not eat any of it.  Pitch it out!

Make sure to check the package dates on cheese products.  If I plan to keep a cheese around for a while, I chose a package with a date far in the future.  If I’m preparing a dish with cheese for immediate use, I don’t worry with that.

So you’ve learned that it’s OK to eat naturally moldy cheeses, as in Blue, Roquefort or Gorganzola, but if your Cheddar, Colby, Swiss or whatever develops mold after it’s opened and stored, remove all the mold and more before consuming! If by chance there’s lots of mold, go by the old saying, “when in doubt, throw it out”!

And if you are a cheese lover like me you rarely will find moldy cheese in your refrigerator because you eat it before mold can form!  I LOVE CHEESE, DON’T YOU?!

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