Why Does My Cheese Get Moldy in the Refrigerator?

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If you haven't unwrapped a block of cheese in a while, you might notice small spots of mold on it. This mold can range in color from white to green to blue. Its formation is completely normal and, in some cases, it is actually desirable. There are a number of reasons why mold might develop on refrigerated cheese. Encourage or discourage mold, depending on which type of cheese you have and which type of mold it is susceptible to.

Air

  • Microscopic mold spores are constantly floating in the air inside and outside your home -- even in the refrigerator. These mold spores will begin to reproduce and form visible mold spots when they land on an item that has organic matter and moisture. Cheese has both of these and is a prime target for mold growth. Thus, any cheese that is exposed to the air for a long period of time is susceptible to mold growth. Prevent this by storing the cheese in a sealable bag or in an airtight container.

Moisture

  • Cheese will mold if it is in a wet environment, because mold thrives in areas that have a lot of moisture. If your refrigerator has pools of water in it, it might also contain mold spores that will eventually find their way to the cheese. Keep the refrigerator dry, and never store your cheese in the humid drawer designed for storing vegetables. Instead, tightly wrap the cheese with plastic wrap and place it in a zip top bag. Place the cheese on a shelf in your refrigerator.

Removing Mold

  • Most mold that grows on cheese is harmless. If the cheese is not aged to encourage edible mold growth and if the mold is not edible, simply cut it off with a knife. Cut an inch around the mold spot and be careful not to touch the knife to the mold. If you do, you might put more mold spores on the cheese when you go to make a second cut. Don't attempt to remove mold from soft cheeses as you won't be able to remove all of the contamination. Throw soft, moldy cheeses away.

Safe Mold

  • Some cheese makers encourage certain types of mold to grow on their cheeses. Popular moldy cheese includes brie, Roquefort and gorgonzola. Cheese makers use safe mold to make these cheeses, which you can eat unless you are allergic to mold. Unsafe mold can also grow on these cheeses, however. If you notice mold that stands out or that has just begun to grow on the cheese, cut it off and throw it away.

References

  • Photo Credit Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images
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