Can I eat the mould on my cheese?

After years of buying food that has been processed, neatly wrapped, sealed, and is bright and clean, people have become afraid of mould.

But cheese and mould have been best friends for thousands of years, adding taste and texture.

The fact is: there is nothing ‘wrong’ with the mould you see on the outside rind of a cheese

From blue and green dots to bright yellow, brown, white, grey and even black, the moulds on the rind are fine to eat!

Mould is part of the aging process of the cheese. It does not stop and it will continue to develop, at the cheese shop and at home in your own fridge.

The mould that grows on the cut surface of a piece of cheese is, though, a bit different from the moulds that grows on the outside of cheese and while not harmful to eat, it can change the taste.

On hard and semi-hard cheeses these will only be surface moulds and do not penetrate into the cheese. So your cheese will still be fine to eat and you can simply cut off any mould, should it appear once you have it at home, to avoid any changes to the flavour of your cheese.

Different Types of Mould

Penicillium. The most famous mould, Penicillium can be blue (roqueforti), green (glaucum) and white (camemberti/candidum) and is widely used to produce blue cheeses and bloomy rinds (Brie/Camembert).

Mucor. Black or grey raised ‘hair-like’ mould, often smoothed flat in the final cheese for sale.

This is found on cheese like Tomme de Savoie, St Nectaire, and sometimes on natural-rinded Caerphilly and Cheshire.

It gives a range of flavours to the rind, predominantly earthy/mushroomy/cave like and with occasional bitterness.

Chrysosporium sulphureum (sometimes called Mimosa). Bright yellow spots. It can produce bitter flavours when in large quantities, and often grows alongside other moulds.

Sporendonema casei. Striking bright red/orange mould, often found alongside other moulds in small spots. It is rare but most common on hard sheep’s cheese, growing slowly.

There are other substances that grow on the rind of cheese including:

  • The yeast-like Geotrichum (which gives goats’ cheese, Brie and Camembert their wrinkly, undulating, rinds)
  • Bacteria like the famous Brevibacterium linens, commonly associated with ‘smelly’ washed-rind cheeses and their orange pigmentation (like Epoisses and Munster).

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