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Jan 12, 2006 07:56 PM

Difference between good cheese mold and bad cheese mold?

  • s

What is the difference between good cheese mold and bad cheese mold?

I mean, the difference between "Ooh, what a lovely camembert" and "What IS this growing in your fridge?"

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  1. Really, I think just about every kind (except the black stuff that grows in your walls if you have a leaky roof) is pretty benign. Icky perhaps, but essentially harmless. Having grown up with occasionally inadequate refrigeration, we got really used to swabbing blue spots off the bacon with a vinegar-dampened cloth, and just wiping or washing it off the cheddar. I still do that on a regular basis. I could probably leave it on and it wouldn't hurt me, but it's unsightly, so what the hey. When it grows on fruit and actually destroys the pulp that's another thing entirely, but on cheese, meat and bread I just slice off what's affected and let it go at that.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Will Owen

      It really is a tough call.

      Some taste bad to some and enticing to others. Like many cheeses. Some will upset the digestive system of 1% or 5% or 10% or 50%. And on extreme occasion, do more than upset the stomach.

      Where do you draw the line? Especially if it tastes good, but gives mild indigestion?

      Most often the taste will put you off before any harm could be done -- that is, eating in wouldn't do any harm, but your mouth says no. But that doesn't work with shellfish.

      So take your pick, you are pretty safe, but there is no guarantee.

      1. re: Will Owen

        i agree with you on the cheese and bread points. generally it's only bad if it affects the taste in a bad way, e.g., when your blue cheese starts to reek of ammonia.

        but i think i'd be a bit grossed out by moldy meat! i never keep meat around that long anyhow.

      2. None, as far as I'm concerned. I know the chevre has gone bad when it tastes like gorgonzola.

        1. My understanding is, good mold on cheese only relates to hard cheeses. Just cut it off and eat away. When you start growing mold on the soft cheeses, its time to throw them away. I'm guessing that if the mold on the soft cheeses is relegated soley to the rind, then you should be ok.

          1. I was married years ago to a microbiologist (that's a biologist under 5 ft tall - sorry, old biology joke)whose rule of thumb was that the greenish-blackish molds are most likely benign (though they can certainly be unpalatable), but the pinkish-orange ones could be harmful. I'm using "molds" in a non-scientific sense - some of these growths are probably not, strictly speaking, molds. She tended to try to salvage food that had the former but always discarded the latter.

            1 Reply
            1. re: FlyFish

              After being in the cheese biz in another lifetime, that's about the gist of what I learned as well. Reddish molds are the bad molds (potentially toxic), and the dark molds are trimmed off. Melon ballers are great tools for this. These rules go for semi-soft and harder cheeses. If you've kept a soft cheese long enough to develop molds, then you've kept it too long, and it's probably better to chuck it. For the poster who commented that eating cheese with dark molds is like eating blue cheese, that's not quite how it works, since the molds in blue cheeses are injected with a mold in the penecillium family (a friendly mold).

            2. The US Dept of Agriculture and the Mayo Clinic suggest the following. This is because of the types of mold that grow. Color is not always a good indicator for what molds are safe.

              For Hard Cheeses such as: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, Romano, Gruyere

              Safe to eat if the mold is removed. Cut off at least one inch around and below the mold spot. Keep the knife out of the mold itself so that it doesn't cross-contaminate other parts of the cheese. Cover the cheese in fresh wrap.

              For Semi-Soft Cheses such as: American, Asiago, baby Swiss, Monterey jack, mozzarella, Muenster, Gorgonzola

              Safe to eat if the mold is removed. Cut off at least one inch around and below the mold spot. Keep the knife out of the mold itself so that it doesn't cross-contaminate other parts of the cheese. Cover the cheese in fresh wrap.

              For soft cheses such as: Brie, Camembert, cottage cheese, Neufchatel, feta, ricotta, shredded and sliced cheeses

              Discard the cheese.

              Also for dairy products like yogurt: Discard it.

              3 Replies
              1. re: JMF

                Gorgonzola? Isn't that like cutting the mold out of Roquefort? Your tax dollars at work.

                1. re: rworange

                  They aren't talking about the blue pennicillium mold... but wild toxic or foul tasting types.

                  1. re: JMF

                    it looks and smells pretty obviously like an ick mold instead of a yum mold with the blue cheeses
                    (I just had to toss the last of some fine gorgonzola..I dare say you'll know it if you see it)