What to do about mold on cheese


Q: We had a nice weekend getaway a while back and brought home some artisan cheese we found in a local shop. Today I saw some mold on it. Can I just cut the mold away or is the whole block of cheese unsafe?

A: It sounds like the cheese you’re talking about is a hard cheese (not something soft, like cream cheese). If that’s the case, you likely can still look forward to enjoying it.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has a detailed fact sheet on mold online at http://bit.ly/moldonfood. Scroll down to the end and you’ll find a chart that lists all sorts of foods and what to do if you find mold on them.

Fortunately, mold spores generally can’t penetrate deeply into hard cheese. So, just cut the mold off, at least one inch around and below the mold spot. When you do, be sure to keep the knife away from the mold — you don’t want to re-contaminate areas that haven’t been affected. For the same reason, use fresh wrap to cover the cheese when done.

Soft cheeses aren’t so lucky. If they get moldy, just throw them out.

As you probably know, some cheeses are actually made with mold. Roquefort, blue, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Brie and Camembert all use mold as part of the manufacturing process, and obviously they’re safe to eat. But other types of mold can invade, causing problems even on those cheeses. If you see mold that’s not supposed to be there, follow the rules above: For hard cheese, cut around it by at least an inch; for soft cheese, pitch it.

You can prolong the life of many types of cheese by storing them in a cold (at least 0 degrees Fahrenheit) freezer instead of the refrigerator. Hard cheeses can be frozen for six to eight weeks without losing quality; processed cheese can be frozen for up to six months. Even Camembert, Roquefort and blue cheese can be frozen for up to three months. For details on how to properly freeze foods for maximum quality, see Ohio State University Extension’s “Freezer Storage” fact sheet available to download at http://go.osu.edu/FreezerStoragePDF.

Although most types of mold prefer warmer temperatures, some types — as you’ve discovered firsthand — can grow in the refrigerator, too. To reduce the chance, clean the inside of your refrigerator every few months with a tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in a quart of water. Rinse with fresh water and dry. If you see visible mold on rubber casings, clean with a solution of a tablespoon of bleach in a quart of water.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in

Free AOL Desktop is being discontinued

If you’re still using the AOL Desktop program, keep in mind that the company is slowly discontinuing the free service. Last April, it started pushing random waves of users to upgrade to AOL Desktop Gold ($4.99 per month after a 30-day trial) or to instead use their free AOL.com services. At some point, they will stop email support on the older...
Diabetes and how it affects feet
Diabetes and how it affects feet

If you have diabetes, you have probably noticed that it affects your health in many ways. But it can be easy to overlook one spot that often escapes close attention: your feet. Understand the problem Just a small foot sore can lead to a diabetic ulcer and even amputation if not treated properly and in a timely manner. So if you have diabetes, every...
A few reasons to tour this famous presidential home before summer ends
A few reasons to tour this famous presidential home before summer ends

One of the best ways to absorb history is to visit a historic home. A few weeks ago my husband and I headed for Marion, Ohio, for what turned out to be a fascinating visit to The Harding Home Presidential Site, the residence of Warren G. and Florence Harding. Thanks to a terrific guide — the museum’s assistant director Shannon Morris &mdash...
D.L. Stewart: Some readers still try to mind their manners

The letter in The Washington Post this week seemed charmingly quaint, a throwback to an era in which men stood up and doffed their hats anytime a woman wearing long white gloves entered the room. “DEAR MISS MANNERS,” the letter began, “I find myself stunned at most people’s table manners. For example: breaking bread/rolls and...
Parenting with Dr. Ramey: A few clues to the secret lives of teens

Your teen has a secret life — feeling, thinking and acting in ways unknown to most parents. Therapy offers young adults the confidentiality and safety to reveal themselves in ways that they cannot do with others. Here is a glimpse at your teen’s private world. 1. High level of insecurity. Many teens feel uncomfortable and uncertain about...
More Stories