Cheese Mold Matters

I have addressed concerns regarding molds in this column before. I feel compelled to write a few more words about them again.

Recently one of our customers opened a package of one of our cheeses and found that it had some mold on it. Thoroughly alarmed he sent us a nice note to alert us about the “problem.”

As I have pointed out before, the molds should be seen as the “flowers” growing on the surfaces or in the interior of cheeses. The molds are an indication that the cheeses are actually alive, as they should be. If a cheese can keep indefinitely without developing any sort of mold whatsoever I would consider it to be less “alive.” Something may have been added to the cheese that stops the flowers from growing – something that may remind us of an herbicide. Not in my cheese!

Without mold we would not have any blue cheese; we wouldn’t have any of the brie or camembert types, nor hundreds of others.

The molds perform many functions in the elevation of fine cheeses. They help extract excess moisture from the body of cheeses, they help break down the protein structures underneath the rinds of certain cheeses to make the pastes soften, they add aroma and flavor nuances to the cheeses, and they help thwart undesirable competing contaminations – some of them pathogenic.

We present more information about molds in our Master Series and our Cheese Talk classes.

Even though some of those molds may look fine to eat (which they almost always are) they may not taste very good themselves. If you find mold growing on your cheeses it is usually best to let it grow. Attempting to scrape it off with the expectation that it will go away does not mean that it is not there (doing what it is supposed to do) because it will likely reappear within a day or two.

Unless it is a very black mold you might try a little nibble to see how it tastes. If it is not to your liking then skip it. The mold has already performed its magic.

Spread the curd!
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