Cheese and mold
I hope this isn't totally obvious to everyone else but... other than cheese that is already intentionally infected (I'm thinking Blue/Stilton/Gorgonzola/etc...) is mold safe to simply cut off a cheese or does the cheese need to be tossed? I'm talking about small amounts, not a completely fuzzy and totaly covered piece of cheese that hid in the back of the fridge for a year.
Does this get very complicated in that, a cheddar with mold is safe if the mold is cutoff but a brie should be tossed (for example)?
I've always been worried that any non-intentional mold is dangerous, but perhaps I'm being overly safe when I don't need to be. If there is no definitive answer, I'm good with that and will continue to follow my paranoid ways.
In general, the softer the cheese, the more you need to be concerned about mold. This is because molds love moisture and spread quickly through soft cheeses. Firm cheeses can also get mold, but it spreads more slowly in them. You should discard fresh cheeses that have become moldy, such as cottage cheese, ricotta, mozzarella, or fresh goat cheese. You should also discard shredded or grated cheese if you see mold in it, regardless of how firm the original cheese was.
To the the color considerations for identifying dangerous molds outlined by sunshine and Deluca (red/pink/orange) I would add black mold. However, washed rind (stinky) cheeses usually have a reddish or orange rind colonized by a bacterium (Brevibacterium linens) that is perfectly safe and should not be confused with red or orange mold.
Mold on the rind of a cheese (especially when the rind is sturdy) is usually of less concern than mold in the paste. Indeed, many cheeses have characteristic molds on their rind. Already mentioned are the bloomy rind cheeses, such as Brie, Camembert and some French goat cheeses. Another example would be Garrotxa, a Spanish goat cheese with a powdery mold on its rind. You'd be hard pressed to find a wheel of Garrotxa that doesn't have the mold, which is innocuous.
white and green molds can be safely cut off and the mold discarded (I think the safe distance is 1/2" from the mold)
Pink or orange mold (bubble-gum pink and Tang orange -- there's no mistaking these two) produce highly toxic byproducts and have very deep "roots" in the host material. Anything with pink or orange goes straight into the garbage, no questions asked; no debate.
A living Brie is a funny thing -- if you leave it in the fridge a while, the white, bloomy rind will actually grow back across the cut edge. This is a good thing. (blew my mind the first time it happened -- but definitely reinforced the concept of cheese as a living organism!)
Obviously any smells (like ammonia) that you know aren't supposed to be there suggest a trip to the trashcan, as well. Old brie smells of ammonia, and is a sure sign it won't taste good -- not harmful, just unpleasant.
Regarding mold on cheese
I grew up in Italy and we always bought cheese by the wheel,
this was long time ago and we did not have refrigerators.
To keep the cheese from getting moldy My parents use to wipe the cut face with wine vinegar, and also wrap a towel with some vinegar.
We returned to this country after the WW2 war, I got married and one day wife told me that the block of mozzarella had mold so she grew it away, I told her to get more cheese and show her what my mom used to do.
When I buy cheese I take a piece os Saran foil, cover the cut face, then a piece of paper towel doused in vinegar over the plastic film then cover it with a second piece of Saran foil, and slip a rubber band over to keep it in place,
I have never had to discard cheese anymore.
In the fridge I have one block 5 Lb mozzarella, 2Lb Asiago, 2 Lb soft fontinella 3 LB. Sharp Chedar and some Gorgonzola that we do not wrap.
The cheese will not taste like vinegar.
If anyone remember the corner food store where the owner would serve you, he wore an apron with big pockets and he always had a cloth soaked with vinegar and use it to wipe the counter and another to wipe the butcher block