How To Tell If Cheese Is Bad

Is Your Cheese Past its Prime? How to Tell if Cheese is Bad


Cheese, with its myriad flavors and textures, is a beloved culinary delight enjoyed worldwide. However, like all perishable foods, cheese can spoil if not stored or handled properly. Determining whether cheese has gone bad can be tricky, but with a keen eye and some basic knowledge, you can confidently assess its quality.

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Signs of Spoiled Cheese

Identifying spoiled cheese is crucial for both your palate and your health. Here are some telltale signs that your cheese may have gone bad:

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  1. Unpleasant Odor: One of the most obvious indicators of spoiled cheese is a strong, unpleasant smell. If your cheese emits a sour or ammonia-like odor, it’s likely past its prime.

  2. Mold Growth: While some cheeses, like blue cheese, naturally contain mold, excessive mold growth on the surface of other varieties indicates spoilage. Discard cheese with visible mold, as consuming it can lead to foodborne illness.

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  3. Texture Changes: Fresh cheese should have a smooth, uniform texture. If you notice any sliminess, hardness, or unexpected texture changes, it may be a sign of spoilage.

  4. Discoloration: Cheese that has darkened in color or developed unusual spots or patches should be inspected closely. Discoloration can indicate bacterial or mold growth, rendering the cheese unfit for consumption.

  5. Taste Test: When in doubt, trust your taste buds. If your cheese tastes sour, bitter, or generally off, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard it.

Proper Cheese Storage

Preventing cheese from spoiling begins with proper storage techniques. Follow these guidelines to keep your cheese fresh for longer:

  • Temperature Control: Store cheese in the refrigerator at temperatures between 35°F and 45°F (1.7°C to 7.2°C). Avoid storing cheese in the freezer, as it can affect texture and flavor.

  • Air Circulation: Cheese needs to breathe, so avoid tightly wrapping it in plastic. Instead, use wax paper or parchment paper to allow for air circulation while protecting against moisture loss.

  • Cheese Cloths: For aged cheeses, such as cheddar or gouda, consider wrapping them in cheese cloth to maintain optimal moisture levels and prevent mold growth.

  • Proper Wrapping: When storing cheese, ensure it is tightly wrapped to prevent exposure to air, which can accelerate spoilage. Re-wrap cheese in fresh wrapping material if necessary.

FAQs: Your Cheese Questions Answered

Q: Can I eat cheese if it has mold on it?
A: It depends on the type of cheese and the extent of mold growth. While some cheeses, like blue cheese, are intentionally inoculated with mold, others should be discarded if mold is present. As a general rule, if the mold is not part of the cheese’s normal aging process and is not a surface mold that can be easily cut away, it’s best to discard the cheese to avoid potential health risks.

Q: How long does cheese last in the refrigerator?
A: The shelf life of cheese varies depending on the type. Soft cheeses, like brie or feta, typically last 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator, while hard cheeses, like parmesan or aged cheddar, can last several months if properly stored. Always check for signs of spoilage before consuming.

Q: Can I freeze cheese to extend its shelf life?
A: While freezing cheese can prolong its shelf life, it may affect texture and flavor. Soft cheeses, in particular, may become crumbly or grainy after freezing. If you choose to freeze cheese, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and use it within 2-3 months for best results.


Enjoying cheese at its peak flavor requires vigilance in monitoring for signs of spoilage. By familiarizing yourself with the indicators of bad cheese and implementing proper storage practices, you can ensure that every cheesy indulgence is a safe and delicious one. Remember, when in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and discard questionable cheese rather than risk your health.

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