How do you feel about the cheese and mold? Can cheese and mold peacefully coexist on your cheese platter? Do you know if blue veining and mold are the same thing? 

Moldy cheese may be out of your comfort zone, so we’re taking a look at the basics of mold and how cheese grows it.

Mold is a crucial component in making cheese

Did you know that mold is a crucial component of many cheeses? We’re not talking only about blues when we talk about mold. 

In a word, molds are microscopic fungi. All molds need water or moisture to grow. Wherever there is moisture and oxygen, mold can grow.

Types of cheeses with mold

There are countless cheeses that use mold at one of the stages of the cheesemaking process. Some cheeses have mold introduced to help create a protective rind, and others like blue are spiked with stainless steel rods to infuse the mold deep into the cheese. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • Blue Cheese. It can be anything from relatively mild and creamy to pungent and crumbly cheese.
  • Blue Cheddar. This cheese is infused with Penicillium roqueforti, the fungus responsible for developing blue cheese’s iconic veins and flavor.
  • Gorgonzola. Gorgonzola is blue cheese’s older and more conservative Italian-style relative. It traditionally uses a different species of mold—Penicillium glaucum—to create its blue veins. 
  • Washed-rind cheeses. These cheeses use the bacteria on a mature cheese to cultivate a new colony on a younger cheese. Cheesemakers wash these cheeses regularly to ensure that the intended bacteria develop evenly and that other unwanted molds don’t grow. Some cheesemakers simply rub a solution of carefully selected bacteria onto the young cheese during the aging process.
  • Some cheeses are also cured in a briny solution while they age, which is pretty much an open invitation for a group of bacteria known as Brevibacterium linens. It produces a distinctive smell and flavor.
  • Bloomy Rind cheeses. Commonly found on soft, rich cheeses. These cheeses are coated with Penicillium camemberti during the aging process. This famous mold culture is responsible for the edible, white rind. Finally, it contributes to the creamy interior texture of bloomy rind cheeses.

Can you eat cheese that got moldy?

So if mold is used in the cheesemaking process, what happens if your cheese gets moldy before you had a chance to eat it? Is it safe to eat best to discard? Well, this depends if the cheese is hard or soft.

Soft Cheese

If fresh cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta, or cottage cheese have mold on it’s not a good sign. Soft cheeses are high in moisture. This means that mold can spread quickly and make it unsafe to eat.

However, cheeses like Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Brie, and Camembert are made with a mold. So the rule of thing here is to discard soft cheeses if they contain mold that is not a part of the manufacturing process.

Hard Cheeses

First of all, if mold is used as a part of the cheesemaking process, it’s perfectly safe to eat. Otherwise, aged or hard cheeses like parmesan, or cheddar, light surface mold can be dealt with by cutting around the moldy bit and removing it. Hard cheeses are so dense and mold can’t penetrate deeply into the cheese.

In conclusion, mold is actually not that scary when it comes to cheese. firstly, it is one of cheese’s crucial components. Secondly, often mold is that secret ingredient that gives most incredible cheeses their unique flavors. In fact, we think moldy cheeses are always worth trying. Visit our Deli and try it for yourself.

Cheese and mold