How do I tell when stinky cheese is bad?
I have long been puzzled by how to determine whether a soft, mostly whitish, smelly-when-fresh cheese has turned bad. Cheddar or swiss with mold I can recognize. But what about Gorgonzola, domestic blue, or something else with a distinctive odor and a mold streak when it's fresh? Assuming soft or semi-soft cheese is well packaged (Saran, or Saran and foil) and refrigerated, how long can I keep it?
The answer to your question is a bit more complicated than you think.
First- do you know what the cheese is supposed to taste and smell like when it's in proper condition? That seems to be a basic question, but one that most people really don't know.
You allude to blue cheese in your initial question, but there are many kinds of cheese that people would designate as "stinky". So I'll stick with blues, since you did.
Orange or pink molds/growths/slimes on blue cheeses are not acceptable. Fine on cheeses that encourage such things, but blues should not have those types of bacteria. I don't think I've ever smelled a cheese that smelled "putrid", that's more of an old meat descriptor.
To save the cheese- try trimming it. Molds are surface loving. They don't penetrate far, and neither do the surface ripening bacteria that could have been exposed to your blues.
But most importantly- taste before you buy it- and when it no longer tastes and smells as it did from your reputable cheesemonger, then it's "gone".
Gorgonzola smells putrid when it's gone bad.
Ok, actually, first, look at it. Is there any yellowish sewer-water kind of color? The first place it goes bad is near the rind, so look and smell there.
If you're looking at it, and wondering "what's that smell?" get your nose down there. Smell it good...if it makes you want to throw up, it's bad.
You don't have to toss the whole thing if the whole thing doesn't smell bad...