While some cheeses naturally contain mold—like blue cheese, for example—others shouldn’t. Mold typically isn’t a good sign, whether it’s in your food or elsewhere. For example, when bread gets moldy, it’s best not to eat it. But does the same rule apply to cheese?
Plus, Gorin shares her insights into how we can avoid moldy cheese in the first place, helping us prevent food waste and keep food out of the landfill—and ultimately helping us lower our environmental footprints.
Can You Eat Moldy Cheese?
To play it safe, you shouldn’t eat moldy cheese. “It’s best not to,” Gorin says. “Many molds simply cause foods to spoil and don’t make you sick. But it’s impossible to know from simply looking at a cheese if the food contains a dangerous type of mold.”
However, you’ll want to take into account the type of cheese you’re consuming. Gorin says it’s safe to eat cheeses that naturally contain molds, such as blue cheese and Camembert. The tricky part begins when the cheese grows mold that’s not supposed to be there.
There are different types of cheese that can grow mold: hard or soft. Parmesan, Pecorino, cheddar, and Swiss fall under the hard cheese category. And cheeses like feta, ricotta, cream cheese, and cottage cheese are soft. Gorin says soft cheeses are more likely to grow mold faster.
“Any soft cheese, such as goat cheese, that contains mold should be discarded,” Gorin says. “This is because, in softer foods, mold’s roots are more easily able to penetrate into the rest of the food.”
The rule for hard cheeses is different. Unlike soft cheeses, you may be able to remove the moldy parts and enjoy the rest.
“For harder cheeses, such as cheddar, you can cut the moldy part off of the food,” Gorin says. “You should do this by cutting off a one-inch section around and below the mold part—don’t touch the knife to the mold! The remaining cheese is safe to eat, but make sure to recover it with fresh wrapping.”
So the only question left is: How can we keep cheese from getting moldy in the first place?
How to Store Cheese So It Lasts Longer
As Gorin mentioned, if soft cheese gets moldy, it’s best to discard it. However, that creates food waste. And when food waste gets thrown in the trash, it ends up in landfills where it will decompose and release harmful greenhouse gases.
One of those gases is methane, a gas that’s 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. And unfortunately, these emissions contribute to global warming. That’s why we want to avoid the waste altogether as much as possible.
So, how should you be storing your cheese to prevent mold? Gorin says it’s best to start by keeping it refrigerated.
“First off, store your cheese in the fridge,” she says. “You absolutely must do this for soft cheeses such as cream cheese and cottage cheese—and any shredded cheeses. Hard cheeses such as Parmesan don’t technically require refrigeration, but they will last longer (and stay unmoldy for longer) if refrigerated.”
This rule also applies when the cheese packaging is opened. But even when you store cheese in the fridge, it’s best to consume it within a certain time frame to avoid spoilage.
“When cheeses are opened, they get moldy more quickly,” Gorin adds. “Don’t store soft cheeses for longer than a week or two after opening, and don’t store hard cheeses for three to four weeks after opening. Shredded cheeses will typically last for about a month after opening.”
Now that we know exactly how to avoid moldy cheese, we can kiss food waste goodbye!
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