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How Can I Revitalize Moldy Cheese?

Twig Farm's Fuzzy Wheel cheese
My cheese has gone moldy. Is there some kind of CPR I can perform on it or should I throw it away?
Not to worry, there’s no need to get out the defibrillator paddles just yet. Mold growing on cheese is a perfectly natural occurrence. The moisture content and pH that allow good molds to grow can enable the less desirable ones as well, but more often than not that freaky-looking fluff is actually hiding lovely, still-enjoyable cheese. So yes, there are several cheese CPR techniques that you can and should employ before you consider throwing it away. If the mold growth is small and shallow, use a cheese slicer or plane to shave off the mold and the area around it.

If the mold is more extensive and appears to go deeper into the cheese, use a knife to cut away about half an inch or more until the mold is removed. One exception to these efforts is when you’re dealing with fresh cheeses, like cottage cheese and fromage blanc; if you see mold growing on these, it’s best to toss the whole container.

There are easy ways to prevent mold from getting a toehold in the first place. Start by purchasing pieces that have been freshly cut from a larger wheel, and buy only what you can consume in a couple of weeks. Not only will you see less mold growth, but your cheese will have more flavor. Always wrap aged cheese in a fresh sheet of wax or parchment paper and store in a cold, draft-free part of your refrigerator (the crisper drawer is a safe bet). Every time you unwrap a cheese, use a new piece of wax paper when rewrapping it for storage. This will prevent potential mold transference.

Cheesemonger Rachel Cohen

Rachel Cohen first began working with cheese as a pastry chef in the Bay Area. In 2004 she joined Cowgirl Creamery/Tomales Bay Foods as a cheesemonger and later became the retail manager of Cowgirl Creamery’s Ferry Building shop in San Francisco. Rachel is currently the cheese buyer for the company.