Cheese Mold | The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

By on 25/05/2011

Cheese Mould Mold

Mold or mould? I don’t mind which way we all spell it but I do know that I’ve seen a lot more of it since I’ve been making cheese.

In the wonderful world of mixing together milk, cultures and bacteria you can end up with some pretty funky looking new friends living on your cheese.

Some moulds (as we spell it in the parts I live in) are desirable and we put special effort into inviting them into and onto our cheese, such as those in blue cheeses and on mould ripened cheeses like Camembert or Brie.

Others aren’t quite so welcome. These are those unwanted, unsightly moulds that turn up and appear to threaten the success of your hard earned cheese.

In general kitchen terms we are very quick to rid ourselves of moulds and throw away anything that has the slightest hint of mould or bacteria growing on it. Although we are often reminded that it’s just penicillin, most of us aren’t keen to find out whether it will help us or kill us. We chuck it in the bin or out to the compost.

So how do you know then if your cheese has a good mould, or a bad mould? Do you have to immediately throw anything out that hasn’t got a ‘desired’ mould on it?

Definitely not.

Let’s list the colours and types of moulds that are usually unwanted (I don’t use the word bad because they most are pretty harmless if you can get rid of them):

  • Black or white cats hair mould – literally looks like a lovely fluffy kitties fur
  • Red mould
  • Pink mould
  • Orange mould
  • Green/blue mould – not your blue cheese mould
  • Brown mould –
  • Grey mould

And then you have the good moulds:

  • Soft, white marsh-mellowy mould (as in Camembert and Brie)
  • Blue mould (as in Blue Cheese)

But before you go throwing out those cheeses that have developed unwanted moulds on them, slow down for a minute.

Cleaning It Up For A Better Cheese

There are ways to redeem your cheese.

For soft cheese you can carefully slice out the offending mould, re-salt the area and hope the mould doesn’t reappear.

For hard cheeses, create a wash of brine and white vinegar and gently rub/scrub the mould off the cheese. If you have a particularly stubborn patch slice it out and then wash with the same solution. Let the cheese dry fully before returning it to its cave to continue aging.

This should sort out your problem immediately but you also really want to avoid the mould coming back.

So how do the moulds get there in the first place?

There are a number of reasons including:

  • Poor sanitisation of aging area or handling equipment (including hands)
  • Poor air circulation
  • Cheese not dry enough before aging
  • Cheese left sitting in or on whey
  • Cross contamination between cheeses
  • Insufficient salting

At the end of the day, a little mould won’t destroy your cheese and in some cases, can be left completely alone to help in the aging of your cheese. We’ll get into that on another day but for now, use the technique above to get rid of it and keep things seemly.

9 Comments

  1. Louise Dutton

    06/12/2011 at 1:50 am

    I’ve got this problem. My blue cheeses developed a grey/black mold as well as an almost Orange mold before I got the blue molds I was looking for. Unable to find any answers to this problem (other than your post here, thank you by the way) I decided to scrap off all of the offending mold I didn’t want, re salt, re-sanitize everything and put it back in the “cave”. I’m hoping everything turns out ok. I’m even thinking of “washing” them everyday with a salt solution. What do you think?

  2. Alison McGrath

    13/01/2012 at 8:36 am

    I’ve been having problems with foul, bright yellow mould on my brie. The first one I made was fine but the last two have turned yellow and stank like rotting meat after a couple of weeks. Any ideas what I’m doing wrong?

    • curdnerd

      19/01/2012 at 10:22 am

      Hi Alison

      Can you tell me a little bit about how you are aging your Brie? What kind of conditions are you keeping it in? Temperature, humidity, air flow etc.

      If you can let me know on this, hopefully I can help you combat this problem and create some fantastic, delicious Brie.

      • Alison

        04/02/2012 at 1:00 am

        Hi,
        I’m draining it on cheese matting, sitting in a large plastic tub on my kitchen work surface, and turning several times a day until all the whey has drained (this took longer than the recipe said). I then moved it to a cooler cupboard, still in the same tub and carried on turning it a couple of times a day. I don’t know if the temperature in the cupboard was cool enough. It’s difficult to control in a centrally heated house.
        Thanks
        Ali

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  6. Carol

    02/05/2014 at 3:09 am

    You referred to chucking bad cheese or throwing in the compost pile; as far as I understand you should never include grease, oil, meat or dairy products in compost.

    • Curd-Nerd

      18/06/2014 at 10:32 am

      Thanks for your comment Carol. This is certainly the case if you want to avoid certain pests like rats. In saying that, we have avoided them by simply digging a hole through the middle of our compost and burying any bad cheeses in there. I still wouldn’t encourage composting meat but cheese shouldn’t do any harm if it is dug in deep.

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