Cheese, with its vast range of flavors, textures, and types, is a beloved staple in many diets. However, knowing when this delicious ingredient has passed its prime can sometimes be tricky.
Our guide on “How to Tell If Cheese Is Bad” aims to help you navigate this issue, keeping your dishes tasty and safe. We’ll delve into the signs of spoilage across a variety of cheeses, so you can enjoy your favorite dairy delight with confidence.
How to tell if cheese is bad
To tell if cheese is bad, check for a change in color, texture, or odor. If the cheese has turned brown, gray, or green, has a slimy texture, or has a strong, foul odor, it is spoiled and should be discarded.
Change in color
Fresh cheese is typically white, yellow, or orange. If the cheese has turned brown, gray, or green, it is spoiled. This is because bacteria have started to grow on the cheese and produce pigments that change the color.
Change in texture
Fresh cheese is firm and crumbly. If the cheese is soft, mushy, or slimy, it is spoiled. This is because bacteria have started to break down the proteins in the cheese, making it softer and more watery.
Change in odor
Fresh cheese has a mild, cheesy odor. If the cheese has a strong, foul odor, it is spoiled. This is because bacteria have started to produce waste products, which have a strong, unpleasant odor.
Presence of mold
Mold is a fungus that can grow on cheese. If you see mold on the cheese, it is spoiled and should be discarded. Mold can produce toxins that can make you sick.
If you are unsure whether or not cheese is safe to eat, it is always best to err on the side of caution and discard it.
- If you have a lot of cheese that you are not sure how to store, you can freeze it. Cheese can be frozen for up to three months. When you are ready to use the cheese, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
- If you are planning on using cheese in a recipe, you can grate it ahead of time and freeze it in an airtight container. This will save you time when you are ready to cook.
Fresh mozzarella is typically soft, white, and moist. If it starts to look yellow or darker, feels slimy, or develops a sour or off smell, it’s likely gone bad.
Fresh goat cheese has a mild, tangy smell and creamy texture. If it starts to develop mold that isn’t characteristic of the particular cheese (e.g., blue or green spots), smells off, or feels slimy, it’s likely spoiled.
Brie has a white mold rind which is edible and has a creamy interior. If it has pink or black mold, has a strong ammonia smell, or has a hard or dry texture, it is probably spoiled.
Fresh cottage cheese is creamy with a mild smell. Signs of spoilage include discoloration, an off smell, or a slimy texture.
Cream cheese should be white or off-white and creamy. If it develops any mold, has an off smell, or has a yellow or green color, it’s time to discard cream cheese.
Feta is naturally a crumbly and grainy cheese. If it develops a sour smell, has visible mold that is not white, or becomes slimy, it’s likely your feta has spoiled.
Fresh Parmesan cheese is hard and has a granular texture with a light, nutty smell. If your parmesan cheese has spoiled it might have mold (other than a bit of white mold), smell off, or become discolored.
Fresh cheddar cheese is pale yellow or orange with a firm and slightly crumbly texture. If cheddar has turned brown, gray, or green, has a strong, foul smell, or becomes soft, mushy, or slimy, it’s time to discard the cheese. Additionally, the presence of mold on cheddar cheese is a clear sign of spoilage.
Blue cheese is characterized by the presence of blue or blue-green mold which is part of its manufacturing process. However, if blue cheese is bad it will start growing other colors of mold like pink or black, or have a strong, off-putting smell.
Shredded cheese should be dry and flow freely. Signs to look for when shredded cheese has gone bad might be that it starts to clump, develops mold, smells sour, or changes color, then you know it’s time to discard it.
How to store cheese properly
To keep cheese fresh longer, it is important to store it properly. Hard cheeses, such as cheddar and Parmesan, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months.
Soft cheeses, such as Brie and Camembert, should be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Blue cheeses, such as Gorgonzola and Roquefort, should be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.
When storing cheese, it is important to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it in a sealed container to prevent it from drying out.
Cheese should also be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator, at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
If you want to freeze your cheese before it goes bad, learn the steps of how to properly freeze cheese in our guide.
What happens if you eat cheese that is bad?
If you eat cheese that is bad, you may experience food poisoning. Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating contaminated food.
The symptoms of food poisoning can vary, but they often include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. In severe cases, food poisoning can lead to hospitalization or even death.
To avoid food poisoning, it is important to cook cheese to the proper temperature and to store it properly.
The USDA recommends cooking ground beef to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit and poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
What to do with bad cheese
If you find that cheese is bad, it is important to discard it immediately. Do not try to save it by cooking it or eating it. Spoiled cheese can make you sick, so it is important to err on the side of caution and throw it away.
Frequently asked questions about how to tell if cheese is bad
By following these simple tips, you can help to keep your cheese fresh and safe to eat. So next time you are enjoying a delicious cheese, be sure to check for signs of spoilage before you eat it.