Can You Actually Eat Moldy Cheese?

Let's cut to the cheese.

moldy cheese
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Cheese is undoubtedly one of the most versatile items you keep in the refrigerator. It's delicious on its own and is easily the star ingredient in dishes like mac and cheese or broccoli-cheddar soup. As wonderful as it is, cheese does have a problem—a tendency to mold.

If you've ever reached into the refrigerator only to discover your cheese has turned moldy, you've probably found yourself wondering if moldy cheese is safe to eat. The answer is, it depends. We went to Cortney LaCorte, founder and owner of Cheese Gal, an artisanal cheese and charcuterie board business in Nashville, to find out what you need to know about eating moldy cheese.

What Causes Cheese to Mold?

LaCorte says there is no single reason cheese turns moldy. Common causes include too much moisture and inconsistent temperatures (so don't leave your refrigerator door open while you make yourself a sandwich).

Is Moldy Cheese Safe to Eat?

We have good news: LaCorte says in most cases, moldy cheese is safe to eat. She's quick to point out that the outside rind of brie is mold to begin with. "This moldy exterior is called a 'Bloomy Rind' and is perfectly safe to eat, but technically a mold nonetheless," she explains. With hard or semi-soft cheeses such as Cheddar, Havarti, or Brie, she says you can just cut the mold off and consume them as usual.

The exception is fresh cheese. "If you see mold growing on a fresh cheese, like a Mozarella, it's sadly got to go," says to LaCorte. "Fresh cheeses are meant to be consumed right away." This includes other fresh cheeses such as cottage cheese and Queso Fresco as well.

How Much Mold Do You Have to Cut Away Before You Consume Moldy Cheese?

If you remove a block of cheese from the refrigerator and find mold, LaCorte recommends cutting at least an inch off of the cheese around the mold. "The mold is usually on the outside of hard and semi-soft cheeses like Cheddar and Parmesan, so cutting about an inch out where the mold was will make it good as new," she says.

How Should You Store Your Cheese to Prevent Mold to Begin With?

Even though moldy cheese is usually safe to eat, cutting those moldy spots off leads to food waste. If you want to prevent your cheese from developing mold to begin with avoid using plastic wrap. "It suffocates the cheese," says LaCorte. Instead she suggests using cheese paper, which allows cheese to breathe while simultaneously keeping excess moisture at bay.

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