Blue cheese is an acquired taste, some may find the distinctive blue veins of mold off-putting, while for others it’s a treasured delicacy. But if blue cheese is already purposely moldy, can it still go bad? And how can you tell when blue cheese is rancid?
The mold present in blue cheese is a special edible variety which is safe to eat (although it is not recommended for pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems.) Over time, blue cheese can go bad and become unsafe to consume. If stored correctly in the fridge, you can expect blue cheese to last around three to four weeks.
Shelf Life Of Blue Cheese
When you purchase blue cheese, there will be a printed expiry date. Use this as a general guideline, but expect the cheese to last one or two weeks beyond that date when stored correctly.
- Room temperature – It is not recommended to keep blue cheese at room temperature for more than four hours, particularly after opening.
- Refrigerated – Packaged correctly, blue cheese should remain edible for three to four weeks.
- Frozen – Although blue cheese will stay good indefinitely in the freezer, we recommend consuming it within six months for optimal flavor and quality.
Is Blue Cheese Mold?
The blue-green veining in blue cheese is an edible mold called Penicillium roquefortii. This mold spreads through the cheese in veins during an aging process that traditionally happens in cold caves. For most people, this mold is not a health risk.
However, there are many manufacturers who use a traditional cheese-making method that uses unpasteurized milk to promote mold growth. People with compromised immune systems and pregnant women should not eat any cheeses made from unpasteurized milk.
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How To Tell If Blue Cheese Is Bad
Blue cheese can turn bad just like other varieties of cheese – you may just need to look a little more closely to detect the changes.
- Color – Pay attention to the creamy part of the cheese. If you can see any hints of pink, green or brown, your cheese has gone bad and should be thrown out.
- Texture – Any sliminess or fuzzy areas indicate mold – dispose of the cheese.
- Smell – Familiarize yourself with the correct odor of fresh blue cheese by sniffing it when you first buy it. The aroma should be similar to beef, meat or buttermilk. If it smells like ammonia, it is no longer fit for consumption.
- Taste – Fresh blue cheese has a strong, sharp and salty flavor. Once it goes bad, this flavor will be intensified, with even more bite to it. Tasting a small amount shouldn’t make you sick.
What Happens If You Eat Bad Blue Cheese?
If you eat blue cheese that has developed other molds and or gone bad, you are not only at risk of becoming ill from the mold, but may also be ingesting harmful bacteria such as listeria, brucella, salmonella and E. coli – all of which can cause food poisoning.
Although some people won’t be affected, those with an already compromised immune system could suffer more serious effects, which may include stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Storing Blue Cheese
Part of what makes blue cheese so distinctive and coveted is the live mold present. This mold needs air to thrive, so tightly wrapping your blue cheese in plastic wrap is not a great idea.
Instead, wrap the blue cheese in wax paper before loosely wrapping in plastic wrap and storing it in the fridge. You could also wrap it in wax paper then store it in an airtight container. These methods will keep those delicate molds intact while protecting the cheese from absorbing other flavors from nearby food.
Cold cheese stays fresher longer. Choose an area of the fridge that has a stable temperature, such as the drawers at the bottom, or an area towards the rear.
Store your cheese away from other varieties of cheese – they have different molds which can spread to one another.
Can You Freeze Blue Cheese?
If you want to save your blue cheese for a special occasion, you can opt to store it in the freezer, bearing in mind that there will be compromises to the creaminess and intensity of the flavor. The texture will also change, becoming crumblier.
As with fridge storage, wrap the cheese in wax paper before placing it into a sealable container or plastic bag.